Frequently Asked Questions

Standards & Accreditation

What is Public Health Accreditation?

  • The measurement of health department performance against a set of nationally recognized, practice-focused and evidenced-based standards.
  • The issuance of recognition of achievement of accreditation within a specified time frame by a nationally recognized entity.
  • The continual development, revision, and distribution of public health standards. 

The goal of the voluntary national accreditation program is to improve and protect the health of the public by advancing the quality and performance of Tribal, state, local, and territorial public health departments.  

PHAB’s public health department accreditation process seeks to advance quality and performance within public health departments. Accreditation standards define the expectations for all public health departments that seek to become accredited. National public health department accreditation has been developed because of the desire to improve service, value, and accountability to stakeholders.

Who is PHAB?

The Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the continuous quality improvement of Tribal, state, local, and territorial public health departments.  

PHAB is working to promote and protect the health of the public by advancing the quality and performance of all public health departments in the United States through national public health department accreditation. PHAB’s vision is a high-performing governmental public health system that will make the United States a healthier nation.


What is the purpose of the national accreditation program?

National public health accreditation aims to improve and protect the health of the public by advancing the quality and performance of state, tribal, and local health departments. Accreditation will drive public health departments to continuously improve the quality of the services they deliver to the community.


Why become an Accredited Health Department?

Public health departments play a critical, but often unrecognized role in promoting and preserving the health of people in communities across the country. Despite the important role health departments play in our communities, there has not been a national system for ensuring their accountability and quality – until now. 

Other community services and organizations have seen the value of accreditation, such as schools, day care centers, police departments and hospitals. Now, there is an opportunity for public health departments to measure their performance, get recognition for their accomplishments and demonstrate accountability within their communities.  Also, as the public health field faces increasing challenges from epidemics and disaster preparedness, it is more important than ever that systems are in place to ensure their effectiveness and quality of service.


What benefits are anticipated from accreditation?  Could accreditation impact funding?

The external validation and objective feedback from the PHAB accreditation process could have significant potential to accelerate performance improvement.  

Health departments will position themselves to capitalize on anticipated funding preferences for accredited health departments. Going through the process will also highlight areas for improvement, and health departments may be able to accelerate performance improvement.  

The process will provide health departments with an opportunity to think about their mission, vision, and values, and how to do business given the challenging social and economic environment. Accreditation may raise the visibility of public health issues and provide a point of entry for decision-making discussions involving public health.

When did national accreditation start for health departments?

PHAB release version 1.0 of the national public health accreditation Standards and Measures in July 2011. Standards and Measures version 1.5 was released in January 2014.  

Applications for accreditation opened in October 2011.  

Spokane Regional Health District was one of the first eleven health departments in the nation to become accredited in winter 2013.  Since then, many more health departments have been accredited.

How much does it cost to apply for accreditation?

Fees are based on the size of the jurisdictional population served by the health department. Jurisdictional population is used as a proxy for complexity of the review.  You can find more information on the cost of accreditation on the PHAB website.

How long does health department accreditation last?

PHAB has adopted a five-year accreditation cycle.

Who developed the accreditation standards, measures and processes?

The PHAB Board of Directors and the PHAB Standards Development Workgroup, along with significant feedback from public health leaders and practitioners, developed the standards, measures and processes that were formally adopted by the PHAB Board in August 2009.  

PHAB held a public vetting process on the draft standards which resulted in a tremendous amount of feedback from the public health field. PHAB received 4,000 individual comments, online surveys and group feedback forms. The Standards Development Workgroup reviewed all public comments thoroughly and is grateful for the invaluable feedback provided by all who participated in the public vetting process.