NIEHS as an NIH institute that makes grant awards for research projects and training, must by law, maintain an appropriate council to review and recommend approval of the project before an award can be made. For NIEHS, this role is served by the National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council (NAEHSC). NAEHSC advises the secretary of HHS, through the director of NIH and the director of NIEHS. Membership of NAEHSC consists of a designee of the secretary of HHS, the NIH director, the NIEHS director, the chief medical officer of the Veteran's Administration, and the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs (or designees of such officers) as ex officio members; and eighteen members who are leaders in the fundamental sciences, medical sciences, education, and public affairs. One-third of the non-federal government members must be public members.