There are a number of major components of the department that were not created by statute but seem to have acquired statutory status over the years by having been statutorily assigned certain functions by name (e.g., HRSA, CDC, CMS). We do not believe that the fact that a statute refers to an agency by a name that was established administratively would prevent the secretary from renaming, abolishing, or consolidating that agency. Some meaning could be given to the statutory assignment of functions or programs to that agency by simply reassigning those functions or program within the reorganization.

There are other ways of dealing with what appear to be hard-and-fast statutory instructions regarding organization. Section 201 of the PHSA states that “[t]he Public Health Service in the Department of Health and Human Services shall be administered by the Assistant Secretary for Health under the supervision and direction of the Secretary.” Yet that provision did not prevent the secretary from reorganizing the functions of PHS to create a direct reporting relationship between the secretary and the major components of the PHS. Apparently effect was given to this requirement by having the assistant secretary have some indirect role in the administration of the PHS agencies.

Thus, there are a number of ways to deal with reorganizational proposals that may involve statutory constraints. In the end, it will be necessary to review such proposals against the statutory framework discussed above. The statutes, although an important concern, should not ultimately prevent the adoption of management reforms and organizational changes that are necessary to achieve the most efficient and effective operation of the programs the agency is charged with administering.


Administration on Children and Families

  • SSA, sec. 416. The programs under the part [Temporary Assistance to Needy Families] and part D [Child Support Enforcement] shall be administered by an Assistant Secretary for Family Support….

    (42 U.S.C. ­§ 616)

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