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Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA)

The ASPA  serves as the Secretary's principal counsel on public affairs. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs conducts national public affairs programs, provides centralized leadership and guidance for public affairs activities within HHS' Staff and Operating Divisions and regional offices, and administers the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts. The Division leads the planning, development and implementation of emergency incident communications strategies and activities for the Department. The ASPA reports directly to the HHS Secretary.

The ASPA Divisions include:

View the ASPA Organization Chart

Communications Services Division
Producer working in the HHS StudioThis division provides a comprehensive range of audiovisual production and programming services including developing and implementing media campaigns, special projects and establishes departmental policy and procedures regarding these audiovisual activities.  Learn more about the HHS studio.

Freedom of Information Act Division (FOIA)
FOIA is a federal statute that allows individuals access to certain federal agency records. The Privacy Act protects certain personal information from release without the written permission of the person to whom the records pertain. The FOI/Privacy Acts Division administers FOIA and Privacy Act issues and requests, including appeals. Learn more...

News Division
HHS News ReleaseThe News Division plans, directs and coordinates the issuance of public information from HHS to the press and broadcast media. Staff prepares news releases and material for the Secretary and other top Department officials and review and clears all news materials prepared by HHS components. The division also identifies media opportunities for the Department and makes recommendations concerning press releases on upcoming publication of regulations or other actions.

Staff members review interview requests and assist in preparing background briefings for the press. The News Division briefs the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, and Chief of Staff, in conjunction with other departmental experts for all media events. They handle all press inquiries and coordinate press conferences for the Secretary. The News Division also monitors and analyzes media coverage for the Department. Learn more...

Special Outreach Division
The Special Outreach Division establishes liaison with the public information officers in the Operating Divisions (OPDIVs) and highlights the programs and initiatives of the OPDIVs and obtain coverage of the activities of the Secretary and other senior Administration officials.

Pandemic Flu Web siteCurrently, the Special Outreach Division is responsible for developing and directing the execution of short and long-term communications activities to support the HHS and cross-government pandemic preparedness goals and objectives outlined in the HHS Pandemic Influenza Plan and the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza.  The Division oversees and supports the development and distribution of all media and communications materials and content on

The Division has responsibility for the review and approval of print and Web-based publications, audiovisual products, and communications contracts. The purpose of the clearance process is to assure that communication products fulfill a public need and support the Department's strategic mission. Product clearance also provides guidance related to use of the HHS logo and seal.

Speech and Editorial Division
The speech and editorial division writes and edits speeches, talking points, op-eds, articles, and letters, for the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Web Communications Division (WCD)
HHS HomepageWeb Communications leads the development and review of HHS Web content, social media, and supporting technologies. The division also recommends and implements Web-based information policy, standards, guidance and tools for the Department. WCD assesses the content and usability of all proposed Department-wide and OS-level Web sites to ensure they are consistent with Departmental policies and goals.

The Division manages daily operations of the main HHS/OS public Web site and associated social media, including the Secretary’s blog. WCD also manages several cross-federal topic Web sites, Secretary-level Web pages and the HHS intranet. Staff provide clearances for Web sites associated with news releases and other public affairs announcements.

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