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Department of Health and Human Services
Official seal
HHS Logo
DHHS2 by Matthew Bisanz.JPG
DHHS headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Department overview
Formed April 11, 1953
May 4, 1980
Preceding agency United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
Jurisdiction Federal government of the United States
Headquarters Hubert H. Humphrey Building, Washington, D.C.
Employees 67,000 (2004)
Annual budget $845.4 billion (2010)[1]
Agency executives Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary
Bill Corr, Deputy Secretary
Child agency HHS agencies

The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is a Cabinet department of the United States 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 its education functions were spun off in 1979, it was called the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.



President 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 was not implemented.[2] It was only enacted thirty years later as part of the Reorganization Plan Number 1 of 1953, transmitted to Congress by Dwight D. Eisenhower on March 12, 1953. This was the only department of the U.S. government to be created through presidential reorganization authority, in which the president was allowed to create or reorganize bureaucracies 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.

The department 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 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 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.

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

Agencies [5]

Office of the Secretary (OS)

Operating divisions

(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]

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. [8]

Related legislation

See also

External links


  1. ^
  2. ^ Eisenhower, Dwight (1953-03-12). "Message of the President". Retrieved 2008-03-02. 
  3. ^ 19 U.S.C. § 3508
  4. ^ Full text of the Department of Education Organization Act, P.L. 96-88
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^

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