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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services



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), reaffirmed by the 2013 Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act (PAHPRA), established the ASPR as the principal adviser to the HHS Secretary responsible for providing integrated policy coordination and strategic direction with respect to all matters related to public health, medical preparedness, and deployment of the federal response for public health emergencies and incidents. The ASPR heads a Staff Division in the Office of the Secretary, serving as the Secretary’s principal advisor on issues related to bioterrorism, and leads 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 MCMs, and for coordination of the federal public health and medical response to incidents. The office of the ASPR serves 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 and National Disaster Recovery Framework.
ASPR is comprised of 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 in the aftermath of a disaster. ASPR will take a leadership role in fostering the critical work of others—whether in developing new technologies for preparedness or conducting research to build the knowledge base for disasters. Most importantly, ASPR recognizes that its mission and roles are an integral part of the national mission for health security. Critical to ASPR's success, it must work closely with public and private sectors; academia and research institutes; faith-based and community organizations; tribal, territorial, local, and state governments; federal government entities; international governments; and global institutions.

Development of the ASPR Strategic Plan

The ASPR strategic plan, originally published in 2011, is guided by the priorities of the Administration and of ASPR leadership, and by other guidance including governing legislation, Presidential Policy Directives, and the 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. The ASPR strategic plan is consistent with, and cascades from, the HHS Strategic Plan. ASPR collaborates across all HHS operating and staff divisions (OPDIVs and STAFFDIVs) to integrate preparedness into the routine daily health and human services programs delivered by HHS, to ensure that these services are continued and effectively leveraged during an emergency incident. Each of ASPR’s offices contributed to the initial development of the plan and participated in the 2013 mid-point review and revision of the plan which is represented in this document. Each office continues to play a critical role in the ongoing processes for defining and tracking initiatives, measures, and targets for supporting the plan’s goals and strategies.

Organization of this Plan 

This revised strategic plan sets the direction for ASPR over the next two 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 in 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 two 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, exemplified here: ensuring that communities and its stakeholders have the resiliency to withstand and recover from public health emergencies (goal 1) as we collaborate and integrate systems, is done by strengthening leadership capabilities (goal 2), thus strengthening our healthcare system (goal 5); 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, each and every community, and the entire nation, develops 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 transform the strategy into action, tracking progress, and implementing course correction when needed. The strategic plan maps out the organization's broad strategic direction, and the action plan provides detailed actions and milestones for accomplishing the stated goals and strategies. 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 our goals. ASPR’s partners, along with 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: December 07, 2015