Key Executive Branch Agencies


Department of Education


OSERS provides supports to parents and individuals, school districts and states in the areas of special education, vocational rehabilitation and research. It funds programs that serve infants, toddlers, children and adults with disabilities. It also funds programs that provide information and technical assistance to parents of infants, toddlers and children with disabilities, as well as members of the educational community who serve these individuals.


Office of Special Education & Rehabilitative Services (OSERS)
Descriptions appear below for the three program components of OSERS and each is accessible through the OSERS web page.


Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)
OSEP has responsibility to provide leadership and financial support to assist states and local districts in their efforts to educate infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities ages birth through 21. Funding is authorized through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as formula grants to states and discretionary grants to institutions of higher education and other non-profit organizations to support research, demonstrations, technical assistance and dissemination, technology and personnel development and parent-training information centers.


National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR)
NIDRR supports a range of research related to the rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities across the life span.


Rehabilitative Services Administration (RSA)
RSA oversees grant programs that help individuals with physical or mental disabilities to obtain employment and live more independently. Its major formula grant program provides funds to state vocational rehabilitation agencies to provide employment-related services, giving priority to individuals who are significantly disabled.

Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)

For an organizational chart of the Department, see

Administration for Children & Families (ACF)
Promotes economic and social well-being of families, children, individuals and communities.  Responsibilities include: Office of Family Assistance, President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities, and Administration on Developmental Disabilities, all described below.


Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD)
Implements the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000, known as the DD Act through the work of four programs: State Councils on Developmental Disabilities; Protection and Advocacy Agencies (P&As); University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs)and Projects of National Significance.
$2 million were set aside in the FY 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Act to fund a National Clearing House and Technical Assistance Center for families of children with disabilities. Although administered by the Administration on Developmental Disabilities, the family support clearing house will serve a broader constituency not limited to families of developmental disabilities.


Office of Family Assistance (OFA)
Administers the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) programs. The TANF Bureau provides assistance and work opportunities to needy families by granting federal funds to States, Territories and Tribes to develop and implement their own welfare programs. The Child Care Bureau (CCB) provides funds to States, Territories and Tribes to support low-income working families’ access to affordable, quality early care and afterschool programs.


President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID)
Created in 1966 as the President's Committee on Mental Retardation, PCPID provides advice to President and DHHS Secretary on broad range of topics relating to people with intellectual disabilities.


Administration on Aging (AoA)

AoA also administers the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) Grant Program, a cooperative effort with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to help states create a single, coordinated system of information and access for all persons seeking long term support.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)


National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD)
Promotes the health of babies, children and adults by identifying the causes of and preventing birth defects and developmental disabilities; helping children to develop and reach their full potential; and promoting health and well-being among people of all ages with disabilities.


Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

Administers the Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program), HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) and several other health-related programs.

For more information on Medicare enrollment, benefits and other helpful tools, see .


Several Medicaid Initiatives have special significance for individuals with disabilities.  The Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waiver provides the largest amount of federal funding to allow people with disabilities to live in their communities instead of receiving institutional care. Other important Medicaid initiatives include: the Medicaid Transformation Grants; New Freedom Initiative; Real Choice grants and Ticket to Work and Work Incentive Improvement Act (TWWIIA) as well as the Medicaid State Waiver Program Demonstration Projects. 

For more information about specific Medicaid programs, see


Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)

Serves as primary Federal agency to improve access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated or medically vulnerable.


Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB)-includes Division of Services for Children with Special Health Care Needs and Division of Research, Training and Education. MCHB funds the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) programs to provide long-term, graduate level interdisciplinary training as well as interdisciplinary services and care for infants, children and adolescents with disabilities. LEND programs operate within a university system, usually as part of a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD).


National Institutes of Health (NIH)
The National Institutes of Health is made up of 27 different Institutes and Centers. Each has its own specific research agenda. All but three of these components receive their funding directly from Congress, and administer their own budgets.


National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Conducts and supports research on brain and nervous system disorders.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
Established to investigate human development as a means of understanding intellectual and developmental disabilities and events that occur during pregnancy.  Today, NICHD conducts and supports research on all stages of human development, from preconception to adulthood, to better understand the health of children, adults, families, and communities.


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Created to focus attention, programs, and funding on improving the lives of people with or at risk for mental and substance abuse disorders.  SAMHSA funds and administers grant programs and contracts that support state and community efforts to expand and enhance prevention and early intervention programs and to improve the quality, availability and range of substance abuse treatment, mental health and recovery support services—in local communities— where people can be served most effectively. The agency has three Centers and supporting offices: Center for Mental Health Services, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, and Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.


Office of the Secretary, Office on Disability

The Office on Disability was created in October 2002 in response to President Bush's New Freedom Initiative. The New Freedom Initiative established seven focus areas: community integration, education, employment, health, housing, technology, and transportation. The Office on Disability focuses its efforts on these seven areas.  The Director of the Office reports to the Secretary and serves as an advisor on HHS activities related to disabilities.

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity

Administers and enforces federal laws that ensure equal access to housing.

Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH)
Administers and manages a range of programs authorized and funded by Congress, including Section 8 and Public Housing.  Section 8 vouchers, administered by Public Housing Agencies (PHAs), are designed to pay the difference between what very low-income households can afford and modest rental housing costs.  People with disabilities comprise approximately 20% of Section 8 voucher holders.
Office of Assisted Housing
The Section 811 program provides housing for people with disabilities by increasing the supply of rental housing with the availability of supportive services. The program also provides project rental assistance, which covers the difference between the HUD-approved operating costs of the project and the tenants' contribution toward rent.

Department of Justice

Civil Rights Division

Disability Rights Section:  enforces (1) Titles I, II and III of the ADA (2) Section 301 of Help America Vote Act and (3) Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. 

Educational Opportunities Section: enforces federal statutes which prohibit discrimination in public elementary and secondary schools and public colleges and universities including (1) Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and (2) Title II of the ADA.

Housing and Civil Enforcement Section: enforces Fair Housing Act that prohibits discriminatory housing practices based upon race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or familial status.

Special Litigation Section: enforces federal civil rights statutes in four major areas including conditions of institutional confinement. Its authority to protect the constitutional and federal statutory rights of persons confined in certain institutions owned or operated by state and local governments (including facilities for individuals who are mentally ill or developmentally disabled, nursing homes, juvenile correctional facilities and adult jails and prisons) is derived from the Civil Rights of Institutional Persons Act of 1980 (“CRIPA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1997. The Section also protects institutionalized persons’ religious exercise rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc, signed into law on September 22, 2000.

Voting Section: enforces various laws designed to safeguard the right to vote of citizens, including those with disabilities.

Department of Labor

Employment and Training Administration (ETA)

This office administers federal government job training and worker dislocation programs, federal grants to states for public employment service programs, and unemployment insurance benefits. Its services are primarily provided through state and local workforce development systems.

Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)

Authorized by Congress in the Department's FY 2001 appropriation, ODEP provides national leadership on disability employment policy.  It develops and influences the use of evidence-based disability employment policies and practices, builds collaborative partnerships, and provides data on employment of people with disabilities. ODEP created a Web site, DisabilityInfo.Gov, to provide one-stop online access to resources, services and information available throughout the federal government and to promote greater public awareness about disability issues.

Department of Transportation

Federal Aviation Administration, Office of Civil Rights - for issues relating to air carrier access


Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration - for issues relating to bus travel


Federal Railroad Administration - for issues relating to Amtrak


Federal Transit Administration, Office of Civil Rights- monitors implementation of and compliance with ADA


Federal Transit Administration - Federal Interagency Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility
Chaired by Secretary of Transportation, other members include a number of other Cabinet Secretaries. Under the Council’s leadership, the United We Ride campaign was developed. It is an interagency Federal national initiative to support States and localities in developing a broad range of service options designed to meet the needs of transportation disadvantaged populations including older adults, disabled persons and/or those with lower income. See

Office of the Secretary, Office of Regulation and Enforcement - for rulemaking issues

Department of Veterans Affairs

Of the 25 million veterans currently alive, nearly three of every four served during a war or an official period of hostility. About a quarter of the nation's population -- approximately 70 million people -- are potentially eligible for VA benefits and services because they are veterans, family members or survivors of veterans.


Veterans Benefits Administration – education, compensation and pension, vocational rehabilitation

Veterans Health Administration – a range of health programs

Related Resources

Federal Register
This is the official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents. Individuals can sign up to receive a daily Table of Contents via e-mail for no charge. The web site also offers a link to a site that allows individuals to find, review, and submit comments on Federal rules that are open for comment and published in the Federal Register.


The regulatory process is critical. It is through regulations that the government interprets Congressional intent and thereby defines law. Information on the rule-making process can be found at including a “map” of the process.

Interagency Committee on Disability Research

This is a federally-funded information clearinghouse that facilitates the exchange of information on disability and rehabilitation research activities, including areas of assistive technology and universal design; medical rehabilitation; data and statistics; employment; and community participation.



The Federal government’s on-line service for disability-related information and resources in 9 key topic areas: employment, education, housing, transportation, health, benefits, technology, community life and civil rights. It covers disability programs, services, laws and benefits.