Public health decision-makers and researchers currently lack an evidence-based framework for describing, classifying, and comparing public health delivery systems based on their organizational components, operational characteristics, and division of responsibility. Related typologies developed in the health services sector have proven extremely valuable for policy and administrative decision-making as well as for ongoing research. Performance assessment, quality improvement, and accreditation activities are now blossoming in public health—adding urgency to the need for classification and comparison frameworks. This brief describes a newly-developed empirical typology for local public health systems and highlights its policy and managerial applications.

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This research was supported through a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (grant 053229).