strain management’s organizational decisions, make it difficult to articulate general principles or rules that will fully describe the statutory landscape of the department’s structure and the discretion left to the secretary to reorganize the department.

For that reason, this paper provides (1) an overview of the general and specific organizational authority of the secretary; (2) a discussion of how that authority has been exercised historically; (3) an analysis, based on the current organization of the department, of the specific statutory provisions that may currently constrain that authority and how those constraints vary substantially among the different parts of the department; and (4) suggestions of means by which statutory limits on the secretary’s authority to organize the department can be addressed. A more detailed listing of statutory directions and constraints affecting the secretary’s organizational authority over the components of the department is contained in the appendix to this paper.


Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1953

As noted above, the department was created, and the cabinet-level position of the secretary of health, education, and welfare was established, when President Eisenhower submitted Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1953, which was approved by the Congress on April 1, 1953.2 The Reorganization Plan essentially elevated the Federal Security Agency (which then contained the Social Security Administration, the Public Health Service, the Office of Education, and several smaller agencies) to cabinet status. The combined agencies were taken whole into the new department, along with the head of those agencies, such as the commissioner of Social Security and the surgeon general, who thereafter reported to the HEW secretary rather than the President.


Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1953 was issued under the authority of the Reorganization Act of 1949, which gave the President broad authority to reorganize the executive branch. To eliminate any doubt over the constitutionality of such broad authority, Congress ratified the Reorganization Plan by passing a statue giving it an effective date. 42 U.S.C.A. ­§ 3501. The broad authority in the Reorganization Act of 1949 has since expired.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement