Federal Departments and Agencies

The United States federal government is comprised of many different agencies and departments. Several of these are critical to cancer prevention and early detection advocacy. Learn more about a few of these entities below.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
AHRQ’s mission is to produce evidence to make health care safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable, and affordable, and to work with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other partners to make sure that the evidence is understood and used.

AHRQ’s priority areas of focus are:

  • Improve health care quality by accelerating implementation of patient-centered outcomes research.
  • Make health care safer.
  • Increase accessibility to health care.
  • Improve health care affordability, efficiency, and cost transparency.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The CDC works to protect America from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S. Whether diseases start at home or abroad, are chronic or acute, curable or preventable, human error or deliberate attack, CDC fights disease and supports communities and citizens to do the same.

The CDC increases the health security of our nation. As the nation’s health protection agency, the CDC saves lives and protects people from health threats. To accomplish their mission, the CDC conducts critical science and provides health information that protects our nation against expensive and dangerous health threats, and responds when these arise.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
CMS covers 100 million people through Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and through the Health Insurance Marketplace. CMS aims to achieve a high quality health care system, as well as better care at lower costs and improved health.

Department of Agriculture (USDA)
The USDA provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management.

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
The mission of HHS is to help provide the building blocks that Americans need to live healthy, successful lives.  HHS fulfills that mission every day by providing millions of children, families, and seniors with access to high-quality health care, by helping people find jobs and parents find affordable child care, by keeping the food on Americans’ shelves safe and infectious diseases at bay, and by pushing the boundaries of how we diagnose and treat disease.

HHS is the United States government’s principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The FDA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services which is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, quality, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products, and medical devices. The FDA is also responsible for the safety and security of most of our nation’s food supply, all cosmetics, dietary supplements, and products that give off radiation. The FDA also regulates tobacco products and is tasked with advancing the public health by helping to speed product innovations.

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
HRSA, an agency of HHS, is the primary Federal agency for improving access to health care by strengthening the health care workforce, building healthy communities and achieving health equity.  HRSA’s programs provide health care to people who are geographically isolated, economically or medically vulnerable. This includes people living with HIV/AIDS, pregnant women, mothers, and their families and those in need of high quality primary health care.  HRSA also supports the training of health professionals, the distribution of providers to areas where they are needed most and improvements in health care delivery.

HRSA oversees organ, bone marrow and cord blood donation. It compensates individuals harmed by vaccination, and maintains databases that protect against health care malpractice, waste, fraud and abuse.

National Cancer Institute (NCI)
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is one of 11 agencies that compose the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The NCI, established under the National Cancer Institute Act of 1937, is the federal government’s principal agency for cancer research and training. The National Cancer Act of 1971 broadened the scope and responsibilities of the NCI and created the National Cancer Program. Over the years, legislative amendments have maintained the NCI authorities and responsibilities and added new information dissemination mandates as well as a requirement to assess the incorporation of state-of-the-art cancer treatments into clinical practice.

NCI coordinates the National Cancer Program, which conducts and supports research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer, rehabilitation from cancer, and the continuing care of cancer patients and the families of cancer patients.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a part of HHS, is the nation’s medical research agency—making important discoveries that improve health and save lives. Thanks in large part to NIH-funded medical research, Americans today are living longer and healthier. Life expectancy in the United States has jumped from 47 years in 1900 to 78 years as reported in 2009, and disability in people over age 65 has dropped dramatically in the past 3 decades. In recent years, nationwide rates of new diagnoses and deaths from all cancers combined have fallen significantly.

For a full list of government departments and agencies, visit http://www.usa.gov/directory/federal/