human development services. After the enactment of Reorganization Plan No. 3 in 1966, which removed the Public Health Services programs from the authority of the surgeon general and vested them in the secretary, the secretary redelegated those programs to the operational control of the assistant secretary for health. Those programs remained with the assistant secretary for health until 1995 when a different secretary choose to have each of the major public health programs (National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Indian Health Service, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, etc.) report directly to the secretary.

The secretary has similar broad authority to reorganize and assign functions to his senior staff (i.e., those officials at the assistant secretary level). Reorganization Plan No. 1 initially assigned an undersecretary (executive level 3)6 and two assistant secretaries to the department. Additional assistant secretaries and a general counsel were subsequently added, but the functions and responsibilities of the assistant secretaries (with the exception of the assistant secretary for aging, the assistant secretary for families and children, and the assistant secretary for administration and management) are not specified in the statute. Thus, the secretary was and remains free to change the title, role, and responsibilities of most of the assistant secretaries. Of the secretary’s senior staff, only the general counsel’s title and functions are specified in law.7 The remaining senior staff positions (chief of staff, executive secretary, director of intergovernmental affairs, director of the Office for Civil Rights, etc.) are all positions created under the secretary’s general organizational authority and those positions may be abolished or changed at the secretary’s discretion.

The purpose of the foregoing discussion has been to demonstrate the extent of the secretary’s reorganization authority over a large portion of the department’s programs. Virtually all of the programs vested in the secretary under the Social Security Act, and the remaining programs currently administered through the Administration for Families and Children, are not subject to statutory constraints as to their organizational placement within the department. Nor is the secretary limited in his authority to organize and assign functions to his senior staff. For reasons beyond the scope of analysis in this paper, however, the programs au-

6

The position of undersecretary was elevated to deputy secretary (executive level 2) in 1990.

7

42 U.S.C.A. ­§ 3504.



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