DEFINITIONS AND METHODS
For the purposes of this effort, the term capacity conveys a deliberately broad and flexible concept—the various attributes that enable the governmental public health infrastructure to pursue its mission of promoting physical and mental health and preventing disease, injury, and disability. As described in the committee’s first report, For the Public’s Health: The Role of Measurement in Action and Accountability, the governmental public health infrastructure comprises public health agencies at local, state, and federal levels and represents a relatively small—yet integral—component of the overall health system (see Figure C-1). This infrastructure is composed of three major components: (1) the public health workforce, (2) data and information systems, and (3) organizational capabilities to assess and respond to public health needs (Baker et al., 2005).
Capacities lie at the heart of the logic model the committee has developed to illustrate the series of steps linking inputs to outcomes in population health and represent the critical link between resources and processes (see Figure C-2). As such, the term capacity may be used to signify system attributes necessary to successfully implement particular actions in order to achieve particular goals (optimal capacity), or the term may be used to describe the manner in which resources are actually deployed and aligned (existing capacity). This paper focuses specifically on capacity within governmental public health agencies at the state and local level, while recogniz-
FIGURE C-1 The health system.