Overview of the Public Health Accreditation Board

Participants seated around tables during a Cure Violence Community meeting.

The first 11 public health departments receive national accreditation.

The Issue:

In 2003, the Institute of Medicine recommended that a national dialogue take place to explore accreditation of governmental health departments (HDs). The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funded the Exploring Accreditation Project which resulted in the 2007 formation of the nonprofit Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) to oversee the process.

A work group of public health professionals, experts and researchers developed draft standards and measures that were vetted with the public health community. One-hundred standards were beta tested with 30 local, state and tribal health departments.

Seven steps to accreditation:

  1. Preapplication: HD assesses their readiness to apply.
  2. Application: HD submits an application.
  3. Document selection and submission: HD selects documents that demonstrate their conformity with measures and electronically submits them.
  4. Site visit: A team of public health professionals conducts a site visit.
  5. Accreditation decision: The Accreditation Committee makes a decision whether or not to accredit.
  6. Reporting: Once accredited, an HD submits annual reports.
  7. Reaccreditation: After five years an accredited HD applies for reaccreditation.


The PHAB continues to solicit feedback and refine measures. As of February 2013, eleven public health departments have been accredited.