What’s in an ATF, anyway?

When we talk about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”), what and who are we really talking about?

Fortunately for us, the ATF website includes an organizational structure diagram, reproduced here:

Currently, the ATF has an “Interim Director,” B. Todd Jones, appointed by President Obama and recently nominated to become the confirmed Director.  He will undergo Senate confirmation hearings.  Todd is staffed by a Chief of Staff, and Chief Counsel.  Second in command at the ATF is the Deputy Director, Thomas E. Brandon, appointed October 2011.

The ATF then has eight “offices” or sub-divisions grouped by topics.  The two offices of interest to us in the compliance field are the “Office of Field Operations,” headed by Assistant Director W. Larry Ford, and the “Office of Enforcement Programs and Services,” headed by Assistant Director Arthur Herbert.

Let’s push the data through one more set of numbers.  For FY2012, the ATF had 5,101 positions, of which 2,485 were agents.  Under the Office of Field Operations, there are 25 Field Divisions plus 1 International Division, as illustrated on this ATF map.  It’s when you click on the Field Divisions and realize the size of the territories plus the number of Field Offices per Field Division that the size and scope of the ATF hits the mark.

To make it short and sweet for your ATF contact needs?  Click on the ATF Field Divisions page, which organizes contact information by Division and also by State, along with a 24-hour joint support and operations center toll free number and e-mail.  This ATF contact page may well be the government’s best argument that you don’t have to understand the entire organizational structure to reach the person you need.