Skip Navigation

Public Health System, Finance, and Quality Program

Public Health is defined as what we do collectively to assure conditions in which people can be healthy. The Public Health System is the intricate network of organizations that work towards improving the health of the American population. 

The Public Health System, Finance, and Quality (PHSFQ) Program is an organizational center to synergistically connect Federal agencies and system partners on public health system-level issues of shared interest and mutual benefit. The PHSFQ program focuses on predominantly on system policies, analysis of financial sustainability, and quality improvement. The overarching goals of the program are to:

  • Identify, advise, and focus national attention on high priority system-level issues.
  • Assist in mainstreaming quality promoting concepts to assure a robust and financially sustainable public health system.

In 1988, the Institute of Medicine proclaimed governmental public health as the organizational center of public health activities. It further recognized the public health knowledge base as the nucleus of what the Federal government should promote to ensure an effective system. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH) is critical to promoting the transfer, integration, and application of knowledge among system partners.

The PHSFQ program advances ASH-wide strategic goals for:

  • Promoting a systems approach to addressing problems.
  • Ensuring system-wide effectiveness.
  • Leveraging resources to strengthen science and knowledge especially when addressing the needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged populations.
  • Promoting leadership and coordination of public health research activities.
What Is Public Health Quality?  

A key milestone resulting from the Public Health Quality Forum, convened in 2008, was a definition of Public Health Quality: "Quality in public health is the degree to which policies, programs, services, and research for the population increase desired health outcomes and conditions in which the population can be healthy."

What is Public Health Finance? 

Public Health Finance is a field of study that examines the acquisition, utilization, and management of resources for the delivery of public health functions and the impact of those resources on population health and the public health system1.

What is the Public Health System? 

The public health system represents the complex network of organizations that work towards fulfilling the public health mission of assuring conditions for a healthy population.

The public health system includes four components

  • Mission
  • Structural capacity
  • Processes
  • Outcomes

It is assumed to be an open system with relationships that lead to interaction and mutual adjustments among the components.


  1. Honore, P. A., & Amy, B. W. (2007). Public Health Finance: Fundamental Theories, Concepts and Definitions. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice , 89-92.