United States Department of Health and Human Services

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Department of Health and Human Services
Logo of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Department overview
Formed April 11, 1953
Preceding agencies Federal Security Agency
United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
Headquarters Hubert H. Humphrey Building, Washington, D.C.
Employees 76,341 (2013)[1]
Annual budget $932.2 billion (2013)[1]
Department executives Kathleen Sebelius, United States Secretary of Health and Human Services
Bill Corr, United States Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services

The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), also known as the Health Department, is a cabinet-level department of the Federal government of the United States 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".[2] Before the separate federal Department of Education was created in 1979, it was called the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW).

As of May 2013 CMS administers 115 programs over 11 operating divisions.[3] Those operating divisions are:


The HHS has its origins in the Federal Security Agency (FSA), established on July 1, 1939 under the Reorganization Act of 1939, P.L. 76-19. The objective was to bring together in one agency all Federal programs in the fields of health, education, and social security. The first Federal Security Administrator was Paul V. McNutt.[4]

The new agency originally consisted of the following major components:

  • Office of the Administrator
  • Public Health Service (PHS)
  • Office of Education
  • Civilian Conservation Corps
  • Social Security Board

In 1953, the Federal Security Agency's programs in health, education, and social security had grown to such importance that its annual budget exceeded the combined budgets of the Departments of Commerce, Justice, Labor and Interior and affected the lives of millions of people. Consequently, in accordance with the Reorganization Act of 1949, President Eisenhower submitted to the Congress on March 12, 1953, Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1953, which called for the dissolution of the Federal Security Agency and elevation of the agency to Cabinet status as the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. All of the responsibilities of the Federal Security Administrator would be transferred to the Secretary of Health, Education, end Welfare, and the components of FSA would be transferred to the Department. A major objective of the reorganization was to improve administration of the functions of the Federal Security Agency.[4]

The plan was approved April 1, 1953, and became effective on April 11, 1953. HEW thus became the first new Cabinet-level department since the Department of Labor was created in 1913. The Reorganization Plan abolished the FSA and transferred all of its functions to the Secretary of HEW and all components of the Agency to the Department. The first Secretary of HEW was Oveta Culp Hobby, a native of Texas, who had served as Commander of the Women's Army Corps in World War II and was editor and publisher of the Houston Post.[4]

In 1979, The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare was renamed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)[5], when its education functions were transferred to the newly created United States Department of Education under the Department of Education Organization Act.[6] HHS was left in charge of the Social Security Administration, agencies constituting the Public Health Service, and the Family Support Administration.

On August 14, 1994, the Social Security Independence and Program Improvements Act of 1994 was signed. This meant effective March 31, 1995, the Social Security Administration would be removed from the Department of Health and Human Services and established as an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States Government, run by a single administrator accompanied by a seven-member bipartisan advisory board.[7]


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. 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 their 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, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, 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.[8][9]

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


US Department of Health and Human Services Budget
(mandatory and discretionary dollars in millions)[1]
Line Item FY13 Budget Authority
HHS Staff and Other
Departmental Management 541
Medicare Hearings and Appeals 84
Office for Civil Rights 39
Office of the Inspector General 59
Office of the National Coordinator 26
Program Support Center 626
Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund 642
HHS Operating Divisions
Administration for Children and Families 50,308
Administration for Community Living (formerly Administration on Aging) 1,949
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality 409
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 6,218
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services 823,166
Food and Drug Administration 2,519
Health Resources and Services Administration 8,576
Indian Health Service 4,581
The National Institutes of Health 30,852
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 3,257
Departmental Total
Total Budget 932,234

Further reading

External links


A couple elements of this article are reused from the Wikipedia article.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Fiscal Year 2013 Budget in Brief: Strengthening Health and Opportunity for All Americans" (PDF). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2013. http://www.hhs.gov/budget/fy2013/budget-brief-fy2013.pdf. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  2. "About HHS". U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.hhs.gov/about/. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  3. "HHS Federal Program Inventory". Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. http://www.hhs.gov/budget/2013-program-inventory/federal-program-inventory.html. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "A Common Thread of Service: An Historical Guide to HEW". DHEW Publication No. (OS) 73-45. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. 1 July 1972. http://aspe.hhs.gov/info/hewhistory.htm. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  5. "20 USC 3508: Department of Health and Human Services". The United States Code. Office of the Law Revision Counsel. http://uscode.house.gov/search/criteria.shtml. Retrieved 23 March 2014. "Search for Title 20 Section 3508" 
  6. "Public Law 96-88, 96th Congress, Department of Education Organization Act". Scribd. http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/53070589. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  7. "Social Security Administration Created as an Independent Agency: Public Law 103-296" (PDF). Social Security Bulletin 58 (1): 57–65. Spring 1995. http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v58n1/v58n1p57.pdf. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  8. Torres, Donald A. (1985). Handbook of Federal Police and Investigative Agencies. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 233–304. ISBN 9780313245787. http://books.google.ca/books?id=qLyvGKMn4-oC&printsec=frontcover. 
  9. "Special Agent Employment". U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 9 October 2008. http://www.hud.gov/offices/oig/careers/specialagent.cfm. Retrieved 23 March 2014.