FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Contact: HHS Press Office
Statement by Mike Leavitt Secretary of Health and Human Services Regarding Resignation of Deputy Secretary Alex Azar
"Alex has been vital to this department's success over the last five and a half years. After becoming HHS Secretary, I quickly came to value the straightforward advice, sharp expertise and strategic insights that Alex consistently brings to the table," Secretary Leavitt said. "His strong commitment to public service is evident in every endeavor from improving the Department's response to emergencies to developing innovative policies that will improve the lives of millions of Americans. Alex will be greatly missed by everyone at HHS."
Deputy Secretary Azar added, "I have been privileged to serve at HHS during some of the most historic years in the life of the department. Thanks to President Bush, Secretary Leavitt, and former Secretary Thompson, our health care is more advanced and efficient, our health system is on the path to complete transformation, our people are healthier, our nation is better prepared for natural and man-made disasters, and our human services programs encourage individual responsibility and help families achieve independence."
Deputy Secretary Azar was unanimously confirmed by the Senate on July 22, 2005. In this role, he is the Chief Operating Officer for the department, with a budget of $640 billion and more than 67,000 employees. At HHS, he has helped lead key activities, including implementation of the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, Hurricane Katrina medical and human services response efforts, planning for a potential influenza pandemic, restructuring of emergency preparedness and response operations, implementing steps to provide more transparency to the health care system, and repatriation of Americans evacuated from Lebanon. Also, the Deputy Secretary improved implementation of the President's Management Agenda, resulting in HHS being rated by OMB as one of the best-run departments in the government.
Internationally, he has led the U.S. government's efforts to encourage worldwide pharmaceutical and medical device innovation, assisted in the coordination of international pandemic influenza response plans and activities, and served as this nation's representative at meetings of global health ministers.
From 2001 to 2005, Deputy Secretary Azar was the department's General Counsel. As the department's senior legal advisor, he supervised approximately 21,000 administrative and federal court litigation matters, led an office of over 500 staff and managed an annual budget of over $75 million for legal services to the department. He played a key role in the public health response to September 11th and subsequent anthrax attacks, formulation of the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, procurement of bioterrorism countermeasures, the privacy of medical records, and issues related to drug and device approvals. He also provided leadership in helping make health care more affordable by speeding the availability of low-cost generic drugs, efforts to reduce the number of uninsured, and medical liability reform.
He is leaving to spend more time with his wife and young children and, after leaving government service, to explore potential opportunities in the private sector.
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Last revised: January 20, 2009