The HHS Secretary’s Operations Center (SOC) is the primary emergency operations center (EOC) for HHS. The mission of the SOC is to protect the health, safety, and security of the nation by serving as the 24/7/365 focal point for public health and medical information collection, sharing, and analysis, as well as facilitating the coordination of HHS preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation operational resource requirements. The SOC maintains a “steady-state” 24-hour watch function for situational awareness of any emerging situation, nationally or internationally, which may require a coordinated health and medical federal disaster response.
The SOC provides notifications including general situational awareness and updates; coordinates personnel actions (alerts, activations, mobilizations, and demobilizations) and initiates and/or coordinates response related conference calls. The SOC also establishes and maintains strategic situational awareness to support HHS senior leader decision making needs. The scalability and flexibility inherent in the SOC’s organizational structure allow it to address a single incident or multiple incidents and/or special events occurring simultaneously.
The SOC’s overall roles and responsibilities include the following:
- Monitoring and Detection
- Alert and Notification
- Senior Leader Decision Support
- Resource Support
- Resource Allocation and Prioritization
- Resource Notification, Activation, Mobilization, and Tracking
- Continuity of Operations and Government
- International Health Regulations
The SOC maintains various levels of activation to meet situational requirements, starting from a lower activation level (Level IV) comprised of 24-hour watch, monitoring, and routine reporting functions, along with select virtual or physical staffing across its core NIMS/ICS-based Command and General Staff sections, as required. Higher activation levels (Levels I-III) may include full augmentation from other ASPR offices, as well as representatives from other HHS OPDIVs, STAFFDIVs, and/or interagency partners. The higher levels of activation are implemented based on the Commander’s Information Requirements with level 1 being the highest level for large no notice disasters with national public health consequences.