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United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare

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United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare

"HEW" redirects here. For the Hanford Engineer Works, see Hanford site.
"DHHS" redirects here. For Druid Hills High School, see Druid Hills High School.

Department of Health and Human Services
Seal of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Logo of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Flag of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Department overview
Formed April 11, 1953
May 4, 1980 (1980-05-04) (34 years ago)
Preceding Department United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
Jurisdiction Federal government of the United States

Hubert H. Humphrey Building
Washington, D.C. 38°53′12″N 77°00′52″W / 38.88667°N 77.01444°W / 38.88667; -77.01444Coordinates: 38°53′12″N 77°00′52″W / 38.88667°N 77.01444°W / 38.88667; -77.01444

Employees 67,000 (2004)
Annual budget $78.4 billion (2011)[1]
Department executives Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary
Bill Corr, Deputy Secretary
Child Department HHS agencies

The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), also known as the Health Department, is a cabinet-level department of the U.S. federal government with the goal of protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services. Its motto is "Improving the health, safety, and well-being of America". Before the separate federal Department of Education was created in 1979, it was called the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW).


President Warren G. Harding proposed a Department of Education and Welfare as early as 1923, and similar proposals were also recommended by subsequent presidents, but for various reasons were not implemented.[2] The Department was only created thirty years later under Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1953 pursuant to authority granted in the Reorganization Act of 1949, in which the president was allowed to create or reorganize executive branch departments as long as neither house of Congress passed a legislative veto. This power to create new departments was removed after 1962, and in the early 1980s the Supreme Court declared legislative vetoes unconstitutional.

Unlike statutes authorizing the creation of other executive departments, the contents of Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1953 were never properly codified within the United States Code, although Congress did codify a later statute ratifying the Plan. Today, the Plan is included as an appendix to Title 5 of the United States Code. The result is that HHS is the only executive department whose statutory foundation today rests on a confusing combination of several codified and uncodified statutes.

The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare was renamed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in 1979,[3] when its education functions were transferred to the newly created United States Department of Education under the Department of Education Organization Act.[4] HHS was left in charge of the Social Security Administration, agencies constituting the Public Health Service, and Family Support Administration.

In 1995, the Social Security Administration was removed from the Department of Health and Human Services, and established as an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States Government.

HHS is administered by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, who is appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The United States Public Health Service (PHS) is the main division of the HHS and is led by the Assistant Secretary for Health. The current Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius is the Vice-Chair of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, and the Department of Health and Human Services is a member of the Council, which is dedicated to preventing and ending homelessness in America.

The United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, the uniformed service of the PHS, is led by the Surgeon General who is responsible for addressing matters concerning public health as authorized by the Secretary or by the Assistant Secretary of Health in addition to his or her primary mission of administering the Commissioned Corps. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigates criminal activity for HHS. The special agents who work for OIG have the same title series "1811", training and authority as other federal criminal investigators, such as the FBI, ATF, DEA and Secret Service. However, OIG Special Agents have special skills in investigating white collar crime related to Medicare and Medicaid fraud and abuse. Organized crime has dominated the criminal activity relative to this type of fraud.

HHS-OIG investigates tens of millions of dollars in Medicare fraud each year. In addition, OIG will continue its coverage of all 50 states and the District of Columbia by its multi-agency task forces (PSOC Task Forces) that identify, investigate, and prosecute individuals who willfully avoid payment of their child support obligations under the Child Support Recovery Act.

HHS-OIG agents also provide protective services to the Secretary of HHS, and other department executives as necessary.

In 2002, the department released Healthy People 2010, a national strategic initiative for improving the health of Americans.

Strengthening Communities Fund

In June 2010 the Department of Health and Human Services created the Strengthening Communities Fund[5] as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment act. The fund was appropriated $50 million to be given as grants to organizations in the United States who were engaged in Capacity Building programs. The grants were given to two different types of capacity builders:

  • State, Local and Tribal governments engaged in capacity building: grants will go to state local and tribal governments to equip them with the capacity to more effectively partner with faith-based or non-faith based nonprofit organizations.[6]
Capacity building in this program will involve education and outreach that catalyzes more involvement of nonprofit organizations in economic recovery

and building up nonprofit organization's abilities to tackle economic problems. State, Local and Tribal governments can receive up to $250,000 in two year grants

  • Nonprofit Social Service Providers engaged in capacity building: they will make grants available to nonprofit organizations who can assist other nonprofit organizations in organizational development, program development, leadership, and evaluations. Nonprofits can receive up to $1 million in two year grants.


Internal Structure

The Department of Health and Human Services is led by the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, a member of the United States Cabinet appointed by the President of the United States with the consent of the United States Senate. The Secretary is assisted in managing the Department by the Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services, who is also appointed by the President. The Secretary and Deputy Secretary are further assisted by seven Assistant Secretaries, who serve as top Departmental administrators.

Several agencies within HHS are components of the Public Health Service (PHS), including AHRQ, ASPR, ATSDR, CDC, FDA, HRSA, IHS, NIH, SAMHSA, OGHA, and OPHS.[7]


US Department of Health and Human Services Budget ($ in thousands) [8]
Line Item FY13 Request
HHS Staff Divisions
Office of the Secretary 756,000
Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund 1,057,000
Office of the Inspector General 370,000
HHS Operating Divisions
Administration for Children and Families 16,200,000
Administration on Aging 2,012,000
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality 409,000
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry 76,000
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 11,159,000
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services 898,845,000
Food and Drug Administration 4,486,000
Health Resources and Services Administration 8,400,000
Indian Health Service 4,422,000
National Institutes of Health 30,860,000
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 3,152,000
Departmental Total
Total Budget 982,204,000

Former operating divisions and agencies


The Department of Health and Human Services' budget includes more than 300 programs, covering a wide spectrum of activities. Some highlights include:

  • Health and social science research
  • Preventing disease, including immunization services
  • Assuring food and drug safety
  • Medicare (health insurance for elderly and disabled Americans) and Medicaid (health insurance for low-income people)
  • Health information technology
  • Financial assistance and services for low-income families
  • Improving maternal and infant health, including a Nurse Home Visitation to support first-time mothers.
  • Head Start (pre-school education and services)
  • Faith-based and community initiatives
  • Preventing child abuse and domestic violence
  • Substance abuse treatment and prevention
  • Services for older Americans, including home-delivered meals
  • Comprehensive health services for Native Americans
  • Medical preparedness for emergencies, including potential terrorism.

Health care reform

The 2010 United States federal budget establishes a reserve fund of more than $630 billion over 10 years to finance fundamental reform of the health care system.[9]

Related legislation

See also

Notes and references

External links

  • United States Department of Health and Human Services Official Website
  • RSS Feed
  • Proposed and finalized federal regulations from the United States Department of Health and Human Services
  • Oral Histories of the American South
  • Program Support Center Official Website
  • Public Health Emergency (
  • The Washington Post

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