Healthy People 2020 identifies the essential role of public health laboratories in ensuring the health of Americans. The 2020 plan affirms public health laboratories as an integral component of the national laboratory system along with clinical, environmental and agricultural laboratories. Moreover, the plan sets specific objectives to increase the proportion of tribal and state public health agencies that provide or ensure comprehensive laboratory services to support public health.

In collaboration with laboratory partners, public health laboratories support the health of people and the environment with outbreak investigation, emergency preparedness and response, disease surveillance, population screening, quality assessment and improvement, and technology transfer. They also benefit the public by helping to ensure safe water, food and air and by supporting programs such as newborn screening and lead-poisoning prevention.

APHL's Role

As a member of the Healthy People 2020 Consortium and its predecessor Healthy People 2010, APHL is dedicated to increasing the proportion of state public health agencies that provide or assure comprehensive laboratory services. APHL was instrumental in development and approval of Public Health Infrastructure (PHI) Objectives 11 and 12, which provide for an assessment of public health laboratory services and system performance, respectively, via biennial surveys. 

PHI Objective 11 reads: “Increase the proportion of Tribal and State public health agencies that provide or assure comprehensive laboratory services to support essential public health services.” The objective is broken down into 11 sub-objectives that correspond to the 11 Core Functions of Public Health Laboratories. APHL's biennial Comprehensive Laboratory Services Survey is the sole source of data for PHI Objective 11.

10 Essential Public Health Services." APHL's biennial Public Health Laboratory Systems Survey (PHLSS) is the sole source of data for PHI Objective 12.

APHL continues to coordinate with other stakeholders to create seamless state and national systems for comprehensive laboratory services to support the public's health — services necessary to counter threats from terrorism, emerging infections and natural disasters.

How to Use This Data

Findings from the bi-annual assessments will demonstrate areas in which the laboratory excels as well as areas that require strengthening.  Assessment data will be shared only with the institution assessed. Data submitted to CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) are aggregate and anonymous.

More Information about CLSS

Related Resources

For more information contact, Tina Su, MPH, Senior Specialist, Laboratory Systems and Standards, 240.485.2729,