Appendix B: Operating and Staff Divisions and Their Functions
The Department’s 11 operating divisions have responsibility for administering a wide variety of health and human services and conducting life-saving research for the nation.
Administration for Children and Families (ACF)
Mission: To foster health and well-being by providing federal leadership, partnership, and resources for the compassionate and effective delivery of human services. ACF grant programs lead the nation in strengthening economic independence and productivity and in enhancing quality of life for people across the life span.
Administration for Community Living (ACL)
Mission: To maximize the independence, well-being, and health of older adults, people with disabilities across the life span, and their families and caregivers. ACL includes the efforts and achievements of the Administration on Aging, the Office on Disability, and the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in a single agency, with enhanced policy and program support for both crosscutting initiatives and efforts focused on the unique needs of individual groups such as children with developmental disabilities, adults with physical disabilities, or seniors, including seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
Mission: To produce evidence to make health care safer, higher quality, more accessible, and more affordable for all Americans, and to work with HHS and other partners to make sure that the evidence is understood and used. AHRQ funds and conducts health services research to examine how people get access to care, how much care costs, and what happens to patients as a result of care they receive. Information from AHRQ’s research is utilized to assist consumers and health care providers in making more informed decisions and in improving the quality of health care services nationwide.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)
Mission: To serve the public through responsive public health actions to promote healthy and safe environments and prevent harmful exposures. ATSDR efforts prevent exposure to such substances, adverse human health effects, and diminished quality of life associated with exposure to hazardous substances.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Mission: Collaborating to create the expertise, information, and tools that people and communities need to protect their health — through health promotion, prevention of disease, injury and disability, and preparedness for new health threats. CDC strengthens existing public health infrastructure while working with partners throughout the nation and the world.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
Mission: As an effective steward of public funds, CMS is committed to strengthening and modernizing the nation’s health care system to provide access to high-quality care and improved health at lower cost. CMS is the largest purchaser of health care in the United States, providing health coverage for more than 100 million individuals. CMS administers Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and new private insurance and private insurance market reform programs.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Mission: To rigorously assure the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices, and the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation. FDA advances the public health by helping to speed innovations and by assisting the public in getting the accurate, science-based information needed on medical products and foods to help prevent disease and improve health. FDA also has responsibility to reduce death and disease caused by tobacco by regulating the manufacturing, marketing, and distribution of tobacco products and by educating the public about the harms of tobacco products to prevent initiation and encourage cessation.
Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
Mission: To improve health and achieve health equity through access to quality services, a skilled health workforce, and innovative programs. HRSA is the primary federal agency for improving access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated, or medically vulnerable.
Indian Health Service (IHS)
Mission: To raise the physical, mental, social, and spiritual health of American Indians and Alaska Natives to the highest level. IHS provides comprehensive health services for American Indians and Alaska Natives, with opportunity for maximum tribal involvement in developing and managing programs to improve their health status and overall quality of life.
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Mission: To seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability. Through its 27 institutes and centers, NIH supports and conducts research, domestically and abroad, into the causes, diagnosis, treatment, control, and prevention of diseases. It also promotes the acquisition and dissemination of medical knowledge to health professionals and the public.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Mission: To reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities. SAMHSA accomplishes this mission by serving as a national voice on mental health and mental illness, substance abuse, and behavioral health systems of care. It coordinates behavioral health surveillance to better understand the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on children, individuals, and families, and the costs associated with treatment. SAMHSA also helps to ensure dollars are invested in evidence-based and data-driven programs and initiatives that result in improved health and resilience.
The primary goal of the Department’s staff divisions is to provide leadership, direction, and policy and management guidance to the Department.
Immediate Office of the Secretary
Office of Health Reform (OHR)
Mission: To provide leadership in establishing policies, priorities, and objectives for the federal government’s comprehensive effort to implement the Affordable Care Act and improve access to health coverage and care, the quality of such care, and the sustainability and effectiveness of the health care system.
Office of the Deputy Secretary
Mission: To direct operations of the largest civilian department in the federal government.
Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs (IEA)
Mission: To serve as the Secretary’s liaison to state, local, and tribal governments and nongovernmental organizations. IEA facilitates communication between the Department and these governmental and nongovernmental stakeholders regarding HHS initiatives and policies. IEA serves the dual role of representing the state, local, tribal, and territorial perspectives in the federal policymaking process as well as clarifying the federal perspective to these governments.
Assistant Secretary for Administration (ASA)
Mission: To provide customer-focused solutions, expert consulting, and leadership in support of the Department’s and other federal agencies’ business and administrative operations, including human resources, information technology, security, real property, employee safety and health, equal employment opportunity, and other shared services. As the Senior Sustainability Officer, ASA advises the Secretary on all aspects of administration and human resource management.
Program Support Center (PSC)
Mission: To provide a full range of shared services to HHS and other federal agencies, enabling them to better focus on their core mission. A component of ASA, the PSC is the provider of choice for quality and value in shared services — administrative operations, occupational health services, facilities and logistics, financial management, and strategic acquisition services — across the federal government.
Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources (ASFR)
Mission: To provide advice and guidance to the Secretary on all aspects of budget, financial management, grants and acquisition management, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, or Recovery Act) coordination, and to provide for the direction and implementation of these activities across the Department.
Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH)
Mission: To provide senior professional leadership across HHS on crosscutting public health and science initiatives and on population-based public health and clinical preventive services. OASH serves as the Secretary's primary advisor on matters involving the nation’s public health. OASH comprises core public health offices and oversees the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps, a uniformed service of more than 6,500 health professionals who serve at HHS and other federal agencies.
Assistant Secretary for Legislation (ASL)
Mission: To serve the Secretary as the primary link between HHS and Congress. ASL informs Congress of Departmental priorities, actions, grants, and contracts.
Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE)
Mission: To advise the Secretary on policy development in health, disability, human services, data, and science and to provide advice and analysis on economic policy. ASPE is responsible for major activities in policy coordination, development of legislation, strategic planning, policy research, program evaluation, and economic analysis.
Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA)
Mission: To serve as the Department’s principal public affairs office and lead efforts across the Department to promote transparency, accountability, and access to critical public health and human services information to the American people. ASPA coordinates media relations and public service information campaigns throughout the Department and manages the Freedom of Information process for the Department.
Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR)
Mission: To serve as the Secretary’s principal advisory staff on matters related to bioterrorism and other public health emergencies. ASPR directs the Department’s emergency response activities, and it coordinates interagency activities related to emergency preparedness and the protection of the civilian population.
Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships (CFBNP)
Mission: To support robust partnerships between HHS and faith-based and community-based organizations to better serve individuals, families, and communities in need. The Partnership Center works in collaboration with HHS agencies to extend the reach and impact of HHS programs into communities across the country.
Departmental Appeals Board (DAB)
Mission: To provide the best possible dispute resolution services for the people who appear before the Board, those who rely on the decisions, and the public. DAB provides prompt, fair, and impartial dispute resolution services to parties in many different kinds of disputes involving components of the Department. DAB encourages the use of mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution.
Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
Mission: To promote and ensure that all people have equal access to, and the opportunity to participate in and receive services from all HHS-funded programs without facing unlawful discrimination and that the privacy and security of their health information is protected. OCR investigates complaints, enforces rights, promulgates regulations, develops policy, and provides technical assistance and public education to ensure understanding of and compliance with nondiscrimination and health information privacy laws. Through preventing and eliminating unlawful discrimination and by protecting the privacy and security of individually identifiable health information, OCR helps HHS carry out its overall mission of improving the health and well-being of all people affected by its many programs.
Office of the General Counsel (OGC)
Mission: To advance the Department’s goal of protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves. OGC is the legal team for the Department, providing quality representation and legal advice on a wide range of highly visible national issues. OGC supports the development and implementation of the Department’s programs by providing the highest-quality legal services to the Secretary and to the Department’s agencies and divisions.
Office of Global Affairs (OGA)
Mission: To promote the health of the world’s population by advancing the Secretary’s and the Department’s global strategies and partnerships, thus serving the health of the people of the United States. Within HHS, OGA coordinates international health and human services policy, research, and global health diplomacy for the benefit of Americans. OGA represents HHS to other governments, other federal departments and agencies, international organizations, and the private sector on international issues.
Office of Inspector General (OIG)
Mission: To protect the integrity of HHS programs as well as the health and welfare of program beneficiaries. By conducting independent and objective audits, evaluations, and investigations, OIG provides timely, useful, and reliable information and advice to Department officials, the Administration, Congress, and the public.
Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals (OMHA)
Mission: To administer the nationwide hearings and appeals for the Medicare program, and to ensure that the American people have equal access and opportunity to appeal and can exercise their rights for health care quality and access. Under direct delegation from the Secretary, OMHA administers nationwide hearings for the Medicare program. The Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) within OMHA conduct impartial hearings and issue decisions on behalf of the Secretary on claims determination appeals involving Parts A, B, C, and D of Medicare. ALJs also issue decisions on Medicare entitlement and eligibility appeals.
Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC)
Mission: To improve health and health care for all Americans through the use of information and technology. The National Coordinator for Health Information Technology serves as the Secretary’s principal advisor on the development, application, and use of health information technology in both public and private health care sectors — technology that will reduce medical errors, improve quality, and produce greater value for health care expenditures.
Content last reviewed on September 2, 2015