Local Public Health Departments Achieve Consensus of What They Should be Doing

Developing a common operational definition for local governmental public health agencies

From February 2004 to July 2008, the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) developed and communicated a common operational definition of a local health department that reflects a shared understanding of what people in any community can reasonably expect from their local health department.

Key Results: NACCHO reported the following results in reports to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF):

  • Developed an operational definition of a functional local health department, with associated standards, that can be used as the basis for measuring and improving performance.

Through an iterative, consensus process, more than 600 local, state and federal public health professionals and elected officials contributed to the definition, which NACCHO published in the booklet, Operational Definition of a Functional Local Health Department (November 2005).

  • Distributed 3,500 copies of the booklet, posted it on the NACCHO Web site, and developed resources, including a toolkit, newsletters, webcasts and presentations, to promote the operational definition.
  • The operational definition became an integral part of the voluntary national accreditation guidelines being developed for local and state public health departments by the Public Health Accreditation Board.

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