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Operational Definition of a Functional Local Health Department

Operational Definition Cover The Operational Definition of a Functional Local Health Department defines what people in any community can reasonably expect from their local governmental public health presence. It sets forth a series of standards based on the Ten Essential Public Health Services and serves as the framework for the standards of the national voluntary accreditation program operated by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB).

NACCHO supports voluntary accreditation for health departments through PHAB and encourages the use of the Operational Definition as an accreditation preparation tool. The functions outlined in this framework are directly aligned with the ten domains outlined in Part B of the PHAB standards. Aspiring local health departments (LHDs) that assess the degree to which they fulfill the functions outlined in this framework and engage in capacity-building quality improvement (QI) activities will likely be better prepared for national accreditation. Beyond the launch of the national accreditation program, the Operational Definition will continue to remain valuable in defining the work of local public health practice. 

Using the Operational Definition
Accreditation Preparation & Quality Improvement
NACCHO offers a wide variety of tools and resources to assist LHDs in accreditation preparation and quality improvement (QI) efforts. More »
Communications Toolkit
The fact sheets were derived from the Operational Definition to provide concise and clear ways to define and talk about local public health to a variety of audiences. More »
Public Health Accreditation Board
PHAB is the accrediting body for national public health accreditation. Through this program, PHAB is working to promote and protect the health of the public by advancing the quality and performance of all public health department in the U.S. More »
For additional information, please contact Jessica Fisher at or 202-507-4265.