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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Who we are and what we do | ASPR’s future | Development of the ASPR Strategic Plan | Organization of this Plan | Implementation |

Who we are and what we do

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) is a leader in preparing the nation and its communities to respond to and recover from public health and medical disasters and emergencies.  The 2006 Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) established ASPR and designated the Secretary as the lead official responsible for all federal public health and medical response to public health emergencies and incidents covered by the National Response Framework, an authority that has been delegated to the Assistant Secretary.  The ASPR heads a Staff Division in the Office of the Secretary, serving as the principal advisor to the Secretary on all matters related to public health and medical emergency preparedness and response and leading a collaborative approach to the Department’s preparedness, response and recovery portfolio. In addition to this policy responsibility, the office of the ASPR also has operational responsibilities:  both for the advanced research and development of medical countermeasures, and also for coordination of the federal public health and medical response to incidents.

ASPR is comprised of the Immediate Office and six offices that provide policy, operational, and programmatic leadership and support to fulfill the ASPR mission. The links below provide an organizational chart and further information on each office.

ASPR’s future

The field of public health and medical preparedness and response continues to evolve as lessons are learned and applied, and as the nation faces new challenges with every emergency. In this strategic plan, ASPR commits to improving the ways it fulfills its operations and policy coordinating responsibilities, and to developing effective and efficient management processes that support mission achievement. The people of ASPR are its most important asset, and investing in them is a cornerstone of the organization’s future success. ASPR will be transparent in its goals and progress, measuring performance and changing course when needed. In all its work, ASPR will develop strategies that are flexible, innovative, and sustainable in the face of challenges or scarce resources. And this must all be done through the continuously evolving landscape of health reform, in which the need to improve access and quality applies equally to those with everyday health care needs and those who need health care because of a disaster. ASPR will take a leadership role in fostering the critical work of others – whether it’s developing new technologies for preparedness or conducting research to build the knowledge base for disasters. And importantly, ASPR recognizes that its role and mission are part of the national mission for health security. The term “partners” appears throughout the plan – in everything ASPR does, it must work in close concert with state, local, tribal, and territorial governments; private sector; academia and research institutes; non-governmental, faith-based, and community organizations; international governments and global institutions; Federal Government entities, and the public.

Development of the ASPR Strategic Plan

The ASPR strategic plan is guided by the priorities of the Administration and of ASPR leadership, and by other guidance including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Strategic Plan, governing legislation, Presidential Policy directives, and the 2009 National Health Security Strategy (NHSS). The NHSS provides the national guidance on health security that sets the framework for national efforts, and encompasses ASPR’s mission. National health security is a state in which the nation and its people are prepared for, protected from, and resilient in the face of health threats or incidents with potentially negative health consequences. All elements of this strategic plan align with and support the ASPR role in achieving national health security under the NHSS. Each of ASPR’s offices contributed to the development of this plan, and each office plays a critical role in the ongoing defining and tracking of initiatives, measures, and targets for supporting the plan’s goals and strategies.

Organization of this Plan

This strategic plan sets the direction for ASPR over the next five years. The mission and vision lay out ASPR’s purpose and how it envisions success. The values are the guiding principles for the organizational culture and should be part of the fabric of day to day life of the office.

Six strategic goals define the highest level aims of ASPR, and each one is supported by a set of strategies for accomplishing that goal. There is no priority ranking among the six goals – every goal and strategy that appears in this plan is by definition a priority over the next five years for the ASPR organization. Though they are presented separately for the sake of a coherent organizing framework, the goals and strategies are very much interrelated and dependent on each other. First responders (goal 2) are a critically important part of an integrated, prepared health care system (goal 5). To be effective in its advisory role to the Secretary (goal 4), ASPR must incorporate policy development with lessons learned and operational decision making (goals 2, 3, and 5). The work that ASPR staff members do to improve administration of the organization (goal 6) is a cornerstone for the success of every other goal.

There are also a number of cross cutting themes. Collaboration with international partners is woven throughout ASPR’s work. Evaluation and quality improvement (QI) are a priority for all of ASPR’s programs, and in this plan ASPR commits to measuring its own performance, continuously improving, and promoting QI nationally. The importance of taking into account the special needs of at-risk populations, including children, is woven throughout the strategy and is a critical part of a “whole community” approach that considers all members of communities together rather than as separate entities when planning. With this approach, all parts of a community, and the nation, develop mutually-owned plans and strategies— for ASPR, this means the organization is only successful by working in full coordination with all of our partners and stakeholders. 


ASPR will implement this strategic plan with full leadership involvement and commitment to turning strategy into action, tracking progress, and correcting course when needed. The strategic plan maps out a broad five-year strategic direction, and more detailed actions for accomplishing the goals and strategies will be developed and annually revisited, along with performance measures and milestones.  All ASPR employees are critical to the organization’s success, and should see themselves and their work directly in one or more of the goals and strategies. Offices and teams may develop even more granular action plans, and budgets will be formulated and executed in line with strategic priorities.

Similar to the HHS strategic plan, the ASPR strategic plan will be published online and updated periodically to reflect evolving activities and progress toward goals. ASPR’s partners and the public will be able to see the latest information on priorities and accomplishments, reinforcing the plan’s purpose as an evolving, living tool for guiding decision making and action. 

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  • This page last reviewed: May 10, 2013