Deputy, Under & Assistant Secretary
United States Executive Department


How to Address a Deputy Secretary
How to Address a Under Secretary
How to Address a Assistant Secretary
of a US Executive Department

How to Address a Deputy Secretary How to Address an under secretary how to address an assistant secretary

How do I Address an Assistant or Deputy Secretary?

Tomorrow, the Assistant Secretary of Transportation is visiting us. He’s obviously in writing he is the Honorable (Full Name).  How do I address him in conversation?
——–Mr. Secretary
—-—-Secretary (Name)
—-—-Assistant Secretary (Name)
—-—-Mr. (Name)
—-—-—-—-– Susan in Aerospace

Do I use Mr./Madam Secretary, Deputy (Surname) or Mr./Ms./Dr. (Surname)
—-—-—-—-– Josh

Dear Susan & Josh:
Deputy, under, or assistant secretaries are never Mr./Madam Secretary or Secretary (Name). These forms of address are reserved for THE Secretary – their boss.

These forms are correct for an deputy, undersecretary, or assistant secretary.

—-—-The Honorable (Full Name)

—-In a letter’s address block with the office:
—-—-The Honorable (Full Name)
—-—-(Name of Office)

—-In a formal salutation or in conversation use:
—-—-Mr./Ms./Dr. (Name) *

* Orally you will hear their job titles used as an honorific to emphasize or clarify his/her job an interaction. For example, you could orally say ‘Deputy Secretary (Name) will be here in five minutes.’ or ‘The Secretary of (department) cannot attend. You will be greeted by Deputy Secretary (Name)’.

—-And the media will frequently use the job before the name to clarify to their readers/viewers who this person is: ‘According to Under Secretary of State (Name) …’. They may even call the person Under Secretary (Name) during an interview.

—-But traditionally and formally their job title not is used in writing as an honorific, in a salutation, or in conversation.

—-And they definitely are not Mr./Madam Secretary or Secretary (Name).

– Robert Hickey

How to Address the Public Health Service

How to Address an Assistant Secretary of Health, USPHS?

How do you address an Assistant Secretary for Health. How do you address this official on official correspondence?
—————-– WD

Dear WD,
In the U.S. Public Health Service the highest officials:
—–#1) Have a naval rank
—–#2) Are appointed by the President (POTUS)
—–#3) Are individually confirmed by the U.S. Senate
—–#4) The Assistant Secretary of Health does not necessarily choose to wear a uniform while in office. If the official chooses not to wear a uniform address as the Honorable (first example below). If the official chooses to wear the uniform address as admiral (second example).
—–And finally,  even though it’s unusual to be the Honorable and have a rank, the same rules apply: It’s either the Rank -or- the Honorable – never both at the same time.  Below are two options for the official envelope – both are correct.  The Assistant Secretary for Health has the rank of Admiral and can be addressed by rank or as the Honorable, as shown below.

—–Envelope, official:
———-The Honorable (Full name)
—–—–Assistant Secretary for Health
—–—–Admiral (Full name)
—–—–Assistant Secretary for Health
—–—–ADM (Full name)
—–—–Assistant Secretary for Health

—–Letter salutation:
———-Dear Dr. (surname):
—–Dear Admiral (surname):

—–Complimentary close:
—–—–Sincerely yours,

—–—–The Honorable (full name), Assistant Secretary for Health
—–—–The Assistant Secretary for Health, Admiral (surname)

———-Dr. (surname):
—–Admiral (surname):

NOTE: On the U.S. Public Health Service website’s leadership page they identify the Assistant Secretary for Health, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Surgeon General, Deputy Surgeon General, and Director, Commissioned Corps Headquarters as (Rank) (Name), (Post-nominals for degrees, licenses and memberships).  E.g., Admiral (Full Name), MD or Rear Admiral (Full Name), MD, JD, MPH.
I have never seen a U.S. government style book that recommended a military rank with a post-nominal other that branch of service.  Never an academic degree. Never a license. Never a membership.  I imagine they want to emphasize that they are healthcare professionals. But using a branch of service post-nominal such as USPHS would define that like a U.S. Navy physician uses USNMC — United States Navy Medical Corps.
—–I wonder if it’s an internal convention within only the Public Health Service?
—–All that said, if any of these leaders were my guest and I had to list their name on a program, I would list their names as the USPHS presents their name.  But I would not assume any other organization follows this unusual style.
—–— Robert Hickey

How to Address a Assistant Secretary  How to Address the Public Health Service

And while we are on the subject…

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health

The Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health has the rank of Rear Admiral and can be addressed by rank as shown below.

—-Envelope, official:

—–—–Rear Admiral (Full name)
—–—–Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health
—–—–RADM (Full name)

—–—–Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health

—–Letter salutation:
—–—–Dear Admiral (surname):

—–Conversation (when in uniform):
—–—–Admiral (surname)

— Robert Hickey How to Address the Public Health Service

Not Finding Your Question Answered?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  After checking the list and reading the posts, if you don’t see your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, I will post the question & answer – always changing the names and specifics.

— Robert Hickey

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