Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA)
The ASPA serves as the Secretary's principal counsel on public affairs. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs conducts national public affairs programs, provides centralized leadership and guidance for public affairs activities within HHS' Staff and Operating Divisions and regional offices, manages the Department’s digital communications and administers the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts. The Division leads the planning, development and implementation of emergency incident communications strategies and activities for the Department. The ASPA reports directly to the HHS Secretary.
ASPA serves as the Department's principal Public Affairs office, leading efforts across the Department to promote transparency, accountability and access to critical public health and human services information to the American people.
Communicate information on HHS's mission, the Secretary's Key Initiatives and the Department's activities to the general public through multi-channels of communication.
ASPA supports public affairs efforts of three primary issue areas: Public Health, Human Services, and Health Care.
The Public Health team works with agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes for Health, and others on initiatives and strategies to promote public health, improve health outcomes, prevent disease and outbreak, and accelerate scientific discovery. Key priorities include helping Americans achieve and maintain a healthy weight, preventing and reducing tobacco use, supporting the National HIV/AIDS strategy, and implementing a modern food safety system.
The Human Services team helps Americans of all ages and backgrounds live full, productive lives: kids getting a “Head Start” through early childhood education, families transitioning out of poverty to economic independence, teens and adults recovering from mental illness and addiction, and seniors participating in communities that value their contributions. These and other human service programs are carried out by the Administration for Children and Families, Administration for Community Living, Indian Health Service, Office for Civil Rights, and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The Health Care team works to advance a 21st century healthcare system that delivers high quality, affordable care to all Americans. The team works with agencies such as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, Health Resources and Services Administration, and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to improve access, quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of the nation’s healthcare. A key initiative is to help implement the Affordable Care Act, which is providing new coverage options and tools for Americans to make informed choices about their health.
The ASPA Divisions include:
- Digital Communications Division (DCD)
- Freedom of Information Act Division (FOIA)
- Media Services Division (MSD)
- News Division
- Speechwriting and Editorial Division
View the ASPA Organization Chart
Digital Communications Division (DCD)
The Digital Communications Division leads the development and review of HHS Web content, social media, and supporting technologies. The Division also recommends and implements Digital (including web) information policy, standards, guidance, and tools for the Department. DCD assesses the content and usability of all proposed Department-wide and OS-level websites to ensure they are consistent with Departmental policies and goals.
The Division manages daily operations of the main HHS/OS public website (HHS.gov) and associated social media. DCD also manages the Department’s priority websites, including several cross-federal topic websites, such as FoodSafety.gov and Flu.gov, Secretary-level web pages, and the HHS intranet. Staff members provide clearances for news releases and other public affairs announcements. DCD runs the Department’s user experience (UE) program, including two usability laboratories. DCD is responsible for Section 508 (accessibility) compliance across all Departmental digital communications platforms including web.
Freedom of Information Act Division (FOIA)
FOIA is a federal statute that allows individuals access to certain federal agency records. The Privacy Act protects certain personal information from release without the written permission of the person to whom the records pertain. The FOI/Privacy Acts Division administers FOIA and Privacy Act issues and requests, including appeals.
Media Services Division (MSD)
Media Services provides a wide range of video production and A/V services. The Division supports key initiatives for the Secretary and all StaffDivs by developing and implementing media campaigns and special projects. It collaborates with subject matter experts and key stakeholders to create useful and cost effective video products that support Departmental goals. MSD supports A/V services in the Humphrey Auditorium and Great Hall.
The News Division plans, directs and coordinates the issuance of public information from HHS to the print, broadcast and digital media. Staff prepares news releases and material for the Secretary and other top Department officials and review and clears all news materials prepared by HHS components. The division also identifies media opportunities for the Department and makes recommendations concerning news releases on upcoming publication of regulations or other actions.
Staff members review interview requests and assist in preparing background briefings for the press. The News Division briefs the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, and Chief of Staff, in conjunction with other departmental experts for all media events. They handle all media inquiries and coordinate news conferences for the Secretary. The News Division also monitors and analyzes media coverage for the Department.
Speechwriting and Editorial Division
The speechwriting and editorial division writes and edits speeches, talking points, op-eds, articles, and letters, for the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services.