The Federal Reserve System was established by the United States Congress in December 1913. Its primary purpose is to provide a flow of credit that will foster economic stability and growth, a high level of employment, stability in the purchasing power of the dollar, and a reasonable balance in transactions with foreign countries. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, one of the twelve regional Federal Reserve Banks, serves the Eleventh Federal Reserve District. The district covers approximately 350,000 square miles and includes Texas, northern Louisiana, and southern New Mexico. Branch offices are located in El Paso, Houston, and San Antonio. The site of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas building was purchased in 1918, and the structure has been occupied since March 1921. The Dallas Fed, built by architects Graham, Anderson, Probost, and White of Chicago in the Neoclassical style of the Beaux Arts School, was designated a historic landmark by the city of Dallas on May 10, 1979.
At the Dallas Fed a nine-member board of directors oversees operations under the general supervision of the board of governors in Washington, D.C. Each of the branch offices has a seven-member board of directors, who work closely with the reserve bank president to provide regional input on management of monetary policies. Like the other reserve banks, the Dallas branch is primarily a "banker's bank." It serves as a bank for financial institutions in basically the same way commercial banks and thrift institutions serve the public. Financial institutions send their excess currency and coin to the Fed, where the money is verified, sorted, and stored until it is needed to fill new orders.
One function of the Dallas Fed is to ensure that currency in circulation is in good physical condition. Bills, processed through high-speed machines, are checked for denomination and fitness. If a bill is suspected of being a counterfeit, it is rejected by the machine and visually inspected. Bogus bills are then sent to the United States Secret Service for investigation. Worn or damaged bills are destroyed. Bills in good condition are bundled and sorted for redistribution to institutions in the Eleventh District. To replace currency withdrawn from circulation, the Dallas Fed uses newly printed currency from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and coins from United States mints in Denver, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.
Since so many dollars spent in the United States are in the form of checks, perhaps the largest operation at the Fed is its check-clearing service. The check departments at the Dallas Fed and its branches operate twenty-four hours a day, five days a week, and process millions of checks daily. Other functions include operation of the payments mechanism system, which includes the automated clearinghouse and electronic fund transfer services; a reserve maintenance division, which maintains reserves of members; and a supervision and regulation department, which conducts regular bank examinations. As fiscal agent for the United States Treasury, the Dallas Fed sells and redeems United States government securities. Though the Fed is a governmental agency that reports to Congress, it is not civil service but a self-funding organization that generates earnings mainly from interest on its holdings of securities.
Monthly and quarterly publications released by the Dallas Fed include articles on economic trends, financial-institution news, and agricultural, energy, and district highlights. It makes available pamphlets on such topics as the Federal Reserve System, savings bonds, government securities, automated clearinghouse, electronic funds transfer, and consumer credit. Films on economics and banking are also available through the Public Affairs Department. Bulletins, regulations, and circulars (which publicize any amendments or special announcements) can also be obtained from the Public Affairs Department. An economic education program is also sponsored by the Public Affairs Department to assist Eleventh District public schools and universities in teaching economics and banking.