NCHS Statutory Authorities

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) is the federal government’s principal health statistics agency. The NCHS mandate from Congress addresses the full spectrum of concerns in the health field from birth to death, including overall health status, lifestyle and exposure to unhealthful influences, the onset and diagnosis of illness and disability, and the use and financing of health care and rehabilitation services. Statutory Authorities of the National Center for Health Statistics pdf icon[PDF – 232 KB] delineates current authorities as of December 2020 and describes the evolution of federal health statistics law in the United States. The authorizing legislation for NCHS, reprinted in this document, represents the accumulation of more than a dozen public laws over 60 years

Citation of Legislative Authority for the National Center for Health Statistics

Legislative authority for health statistics is mandated in sections 304, 306, 307, and 308 of the Public Health Service Act (PHSA). Together, these sections define the scope of NCHS authorities and responsibilities. For most purposes, legislative authority for the National Center for Health Statistics is attributed to the section of the PHSA which formally establishes the Center:

  • Section 306 of the Public Health Service Act; or
  • 42 U.S.C. 242k

These citations can be used interchangeably. The second citation is a reference to the United States Code, the official compilation and codification of the federal statutes of the U.S. government.







Page last reviewed: April 19, 2021