ASPA supports public affairs efforts of three primary issue areas: Public Health, Human Services, and Health Care. View the ASPA organizational chart.
Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA)
The ASPA serves as the Secretary's principal counsel on public affairs—providing executive leadership, policy direction, and management strategy for the Department’s public affairs programs and activities. The ASPA reports directly to the HHS Secretary and:
- Serves as the principal point of contact regarding communications and press issues;
- Ensures coordination among public affairs components;
- Manages public affairs issues and special activities that cut across Operating Division lines; and
- Leads the planning, development, and implementation of emergency incident communications strategies and activities for the Department.
The ASPA also serves as the HHS Agency Chief FOIA Officer (ACFO), pursuant to Executive Order 13392 and the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. §552 (k); responsible for ensuring Department-wide consistency in the implementation of and compliance with information access and privacy protection laws and HHS regulations implementing these laws.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (PDAS)
The PDAS develops effective strategies to publicize Departmental policies, goals and accomplishments; manages or coordinates high priority media campaigns and information programs; Interacts with internal and external organizations, groups and individuals to secure and provide information concerning matters affecting HHS policy, interests, and initiatives. The PDAS oversees the Strategic Planning Division and the Speechwriting Division.
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 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.
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. In addition, the DAS-HS provides direction and oversight to the Broadcast Communications Division (BCD) and the Digital Communications Division (DCD).
The Executive Office team coordinates ASPA’s day-to-day operations, overseeing management operations and policy, human resources activities, and general administrative support including information technology requirements. In addition, the Executive Officer oversees the FOIA Division and serves as the designated Deputy Agency Chief FOIA Officer (DACFO) with delegated authority to execute the provisions of EO 13392 and 5 U.S.C. §552 (k); including monitoring and reporting on FOIA implementation and performance throughout the department, responding to questions or concerns regarding FOIA implementation at HHS (HHS.ACFO@hhs.gov), providing review and concurrence on all departmental appeal decisions, and general responsibility for Department-wide implementation and administration of the Privacy Act.
ASPA Divisions include:
- Strategic Planning Division
- Speechwriting Division
- Broadcast Communications Division (BCD)
- Digital Communications Division (DCD)
- Freedom of Information Act Division (FOIA)
Strategic Planning Division
The strategic planning division coordinates the creation and implementation of strategic communications plans for the Department’s major announcements. The division advises the Secretary and senior staff on tactics, timing and investment in accordance with the Department’s strategic priorities, and engages with all HHS Staff and Operating Divisions to develop a long-term outreach strategy, manage in-house communications efforts, and ensure consistent messaging. The division also oversees the document clearance process and the prioritization of rollouts.
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.
Broadcast Communications Division (BCD)
The broadcast communications team provides a wide range of video production and A/V services. The division supports key initiatives for the Secretary and all Staff Divisions 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. BCD supports A/V services in the Humphrey Auditorium and Great Hall.
Digital Communications Division (DCD)
DCD 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. 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 (FOIA)/Privacy Act Division
The FOIA provides a right of access to agency records, except to the extent that any portions of the records are protected from public disclosure by one of nine exemptions. The Privacy Act protects certain personal information from release without the written permission of the person to whom the records pertain. The FOIA/Privacy Act Division administers FOIA and Privacy Act issues and requests, including appeals. The Division supports and assists the execution of the ACFO/DACFO responsibilities to monitor and facilitate departmental compliance with public disclosure requirements; establish departmental Freedom of Information Act policies; coordinate, monitor, and compile reports to Congress; and provide technical assistance to the HHS Operating Divisions. The Division provides responses to requests made to components of the Office of the Secretary pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIARequest@hhs.gov) and determines the availability of records and information under the law and HHS Regulations.