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What is the Bureau of Public Debt?

Mary McMahon
Updated: May 17, 2024

The Bureau of Public Debt is an agency of the United States Treasury which is responsible for borrowing funds to run the United States government. The Bureau also keeps track of American public debt, and administers the sale and management of Treasury securities such as T-Bills and savings bonds. Many Americans are customers of the Bureau of Public Debt; anyone who has purchased a Treasury security has taken advantage of the services of the Bureau of Public Debt.

Running a government is extremely expensive. The Bureau of Public Debt borrows around two trillion United States Dollars (USD) annually through the sale of Treasury securities. Anyone who purchases a Treasury security is loaning money to the United States government, whether the security is a $25 USD savings bond or a $1,000 USD T-Bill. In exchange for the temporary loan to the government, the investor receives interest on the security, and the security can also ultimately be redeemed for its face value.

Initially, the Bureau of Public Debt was known as the Register of the Treasury. In 1919, it became the Public Debt Service, and in 1940, the agency acquired its current name. The agency holds around 140 auctions of Treasury securities every year, and also makes savings bonds available on a continuous basis all over the country. Investors can also purchase savings bonds and other securities through the Treasury Direct service, an entirely paperless investment site maintained by the Treasury.

The headquarters of the Bureau of Public Debt are in Washington, DC, although the agency also has offices in Parkersburg, West Virginia. In addition to selling and tracking Treasury securities, employees also keep track of the total public debt in the United States; the most recent public debt figures are made available on their website. The organization also manages administrative issues which pertain to the sale of Treasury securities, such as responding to reports of lost, stolen, or forged securities.

Treasury securities from the Bureau of Public Debt are often treated as a safe, stable investment by American investors. While the yields on Treasury securities tend to be relatively conservative, these securities are backed by the American government, making them sound choices for beginning investors or people who cannot afford to lose money on investments. Many Americans are also encouraged to use savings bonds as a way of saving money while also supporting the operations of the federal government.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon19693 — On Oct 17, 2008

If our government bought back all the stock in the last 9 months and every time the stock kept being sold continue to buy just those sold per day. Our economy would return to normal. Later after the economy settles down, then our government can start selling back the stock into our system

By DonBales — On Oct 17, 2008

Treasury notes are safe in that you are likely to get the dollar amount back. However, inflation will take away the purchasing power of those dollars over time. Compound inflation is like compound interest-over time it mounts up.

For example, $7,000 USD in 1915 would equal the purchasing power of $146,000 today.

Inflating is a hidden tax on those who save.

Do we have a disincentive society? Corporations are taxed, capital gains are taxed, interest is taxed and dividends are taxed. On the other hand, sometimes it seems that that the idle and the improvident are rewarded-like right now. And that the criminal are rewarded by benefits-illegal immigrants, for example.

By anon19676 — On Oct 17, 2008

@ anon14842 -- are you trying to sell those services? Those agencies are scams, and are in no way affiliated with the Bureau of Public Debt. A simple Google search would have told you that.

By anon14842 — On Jun 25, 2008

Is the Bureau of Public Debt affiliated with USA government? Why are they contacting people about helping them cut their debt in half supposedly without adversely affecting their current credit scores?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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