As Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar is the chief operating officer of the largest civilian department in the federal government, with a budget of $581 billion and 67,000 employees. He was unanimously confirmed by the Senate as Deputy Secretary on July 22, 2005.
Working closely with Secretary Mike Leavitt, Deputy Secretary Azar oversees all operations, including Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, public health, medical research, regulation of food and drugs, child and family services, disease prevention, Indian health, mental health services, and many other activities. He also leads a number of initiatives at DHHS, including the fight against human trafficking, implementing the President's Management Agenda, combating bio-terrorism, public health emergency preparedness, and the development and approval of all HHS regulations. He has helped lead key activities including the response to Hurricane Katrina and planning for a potential influenza pandemic.
From 2001 to 2005, Deputy Secretary Azar served as General Counsel of HHS and in that role, was chief advisor to the Secretary on all legal matters concerning the Department. He and his attorneys played a key role in the public health response to 9/11, the anthrax attacks, and the formulation of the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002. Prior to joining HHS, Deputy Secretary Azar was a partner with the Washington law firm of Wiley, Rein & Fielding, where he specialized in litigation and appellate practice involving white collar criminal defense and internal investigations, congressional investigations, government ethics, administrative law, and employment counseling. Deputy Secretary Azar is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Yale Law School.