The Office of Public Health and Science (OPHS) provides advice, policy and program coordination, and leadership in the implementation, management, and development of activities related to public health and science, as directed by the Secretary. OPHS helps HHS conduct broad-based public health assessments to better define public health problems and solutions. It assists other components of HHS in anticipating future public health issues and problems and helps ensure that HHS designs and implements appropriate approaches, interventions, and evaluations that will maintain, sustain, and improve the health of the Nation. OPHS provides leadership and policy recommendations on population-based public health and science and, at the Secretary's direction, leads or coordinates initiatives that cut across agencies and operating divisions. In addition, OPHS communicates and interacts, on behalf of the Secretary, with national and international professional and constituency organizations on matters of public health and science. Finally, OPHS's unique role allows it to use its resources to link important HHS programs or fill gaps in areas needing better policy formulation and coordination.
In keeping with its role within the Department, OPHS has developed an evaluation plan that avoids duplication of efforts that might more appropriately and effectively be undertaken by operating divisions of HHS or by the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE). Thus, the FY 1998 evaluation strategy for OPHS focuses on public health and science issues that cut across multiple interests of the operating divisions, and requires a coordinated approach to achieve the most effective results. In addition, OPHS will continue its commitment to carry out every project proposed as part of this year's strategy in collaboration with relevant operating divisions.
OPHS conducts evaluations requested of the Secretary by Congress that are most appropriately managed by staff with medical or health science credentials, and that cannot be assigned to an operating division. Further, evaluations will be conducted to support the Surgeon General and the Assistant Secretary for Health in their respective roles as the Nation's top doctor and senior advisor for public health and science to the Secretary. These roles include the responsibility to assist the Secretary in developing a policy agenda for the Department to address major population-based public health, prevention, and science issues and to provide leadership and a focus for coordination of population-based health, clinical preventive services and science initiatives that cut across operating divisions. In addition, OPHS will conduct evaluations specific to the needs of the programs operated from the offices located within OPHS, such as Women's Health, Minority Health, Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, International Health, and Emergency Preparedness. A portion of the evaluation funds will be made available to the ten HHS Regional Health Administrators.