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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2006 E-Gov Annual Report

October 20, 2006

 

E-Gov at HHS

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has achieved great success this year. HHS continued its participation in over 20 of the President’s Management Agenda E-Gov initiatives and provided leadership in leveraging technology to implement E-Gov business decisions. Specifically, for the Grants.gov initiative, HHS received 52,008 grant applications electronically via Grants.gov from 801 electronic packages in FY 2006, a 1600% increase in application submissions and 100% increase in packages. The MyMedicare.gov initiative completed its national rollout to all U.S. states and territories and has acquired over 239,000 registered users. The National Select Agent Registry (NSAR), a collaborative effort of HHS/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and USDA/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), saw the migration of 1.4 million records from  their separate databases into the shared database. These achievements are representative of the HHS commitment to improving the administration of its programs through the innovative application of technology.

Grants.gov

HHS is the managing agency for the federal-wide Grants.gov initiative and HHS is also the biggest user of Grants.gov.  HHS processed 58% (52,088) of electronic submissions received via Grants.gov in Fiscal Year 2006 (90,045); and HHS processed 42.7% (1,195) of the total synopses (2,798) received in Fiscal Year 2006 followed by and National Science Foundation (221) at 7.9%.  The HHS results represent more than three times the agency goal for the year and single-handedly fulfill the government-wide Grants.gov FY06 goal of 45,000 application submissions. This is a noteworthy implementation demonstrating an impressive commitment to e-government outcomes.

MyMedicare.gov (Medicare Beneficiary Portal)

The Medicare Beneficiary Portal marks a significant step and another turning point in the history of Medicare.gov to better serve Medicare beneficiaries and provide secure, self-service transactions and relevant information through the Internet.  The MyMedicare.gov pilot was launched in December 2004.  During FY 2006 MyMedicare.gov completed its national rollout to all U.S. states and territories in November 2005 and in May 2006, added access to claims information (Part A, B & DMERC claims).  In FY 2006, MyMedicare.gov has acquired over 239,000 registered users.

MyMedicare.gov provides beneficiaries who register with all of their personal Medicare-related information in one place.  This service allows beneficiaries to:

View Medicare claims data (Part A, B & DMERC claims);

View eligibility, entitlement and preventive service information;

Order a Medical Summary Notice (MSN) or a replacement Medicare card;

View or modify prescription drug list or pharmacy information;

View Medicare enrollment information including prescription drug plans

Receive important Medicare-related information from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

MyMedicare.gov is a component of www.medicare.gov and can be accessed from the Medicare.gov Web site via a link (MyMedicare.gov) or by visiting http://mymedicare.gov

MyMedicare.gov continued to improve and offer more self-service features and information for beneficiaries throughout the year.  The key enhancements included a link to take users directly to their Plan Drug Details page on the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder.  This gives beneficiaries the ability to keep their drug list up-to-date; provides more personalized information on their plan and benefits; allows beneficiaries to view plan-level drug details and cost share information; and to optimize their pharmacy and drug selections.  Other major enhancements included adding employer subsidy and prescription drug card data to the site, as well as providing links to the Plan Comparison and Quality Compare tools on Medicare.gov. 

For beneficiaries who do not have access to the Internet, CMS does provide access to the same level of information through the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system when a beneficiary calls 1-800 MEDICARE (800-633-4227).

Select Agents.Gov

National Select Agent Registry (NSAR) - During Fiscal Year (FY) 2005, HHS/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and USDA/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) began working collaboratively to develop a shared web-based system that would allow the regulated community to conduct transactions electronically via a single Web portal. This system would enable the entity to communicate dynamically in a digitally secured environment using a single Web portal, www.selectagents.gov. The Web portal would provide a platform for electronic exchange of information without the need to print, mail, or e-mail hard copies that is the current method to exchange information between CDC, APHIS, and the regulated community.  During first and second quarters FY 2006, the CDC and APHIS successfully migrated 1.4 million records from their separate databases into the shared database.  The shared database was deployed for internal use by CDC and APHIS in the third quarter FY 2006.  Currently, the shared web-based system is scheduled for public deployment during the first quarter of FY 2007. 

In addition, NSAR was selected by HHS to serve as an early adopter of the Federated E-Authentication System and joined that federation on September 25, 2006.  The Federated E-Authentication System is a public-private partnership that will enable citizens, businesses and government employees to access online government services using log-in IDs issued by trusted third-parties, both within and outside the government.  CDC became a member on September 25, 2006 because NSAR is an inter-agency tool that requires the higher security E-Authentication Level 3 identity proofing. 

HHS/ACF Grants Center of Excellence (CoE)

The Grants Center of Excellence (HHS/ACF CoE) continues to prove itself as an exemplary e-government initiative, supporting multiple facets of the President’s Management Agenda. The CoE has significantly enhanced the grants process for all communities by improving the quality and availability of services.  It has done so while decreasing cost, staying on schedule and meeting new technological requirements.  In recognition of these accomplishments, the CoE was selected by OMB to lead a consortia offering Grant e-business service to all departments and agencies in the US government.  Additionally, the CoE team received the HHS Secretary’s 2006 Distinguished Service Award – the highest honor given to a team or individual in HHS.

The CoE has substantially improved all aspects of the grants management process.  The CoE team enhanced interfaces between government agencies and Grants.gov, making quality information available and transparent.  It established a sophisticated on-line Grants Announcement Management System that has expedited both the preparation of grant announcements and their electronic transmission to Grants.gov, thereby improving the funding opportunity announcement process.  It developed an automated On-Line Data Collection system allowing grantees easier report submission and grantors better access to the reported information.  Also, it gave service communities real-time access to grant application and other process status through a web-based grants management system. 

The CoE remains an efficient and vital resource for partner agencies.  The CoE team serves over 80 grant programs in eight agencies (Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Administration on Aging (AoA), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), Indian Health Service (IHS), Office of Public Health Services (OPHS), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA-FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service)), Treasury-CDFI (Community Development Financial Institutions)), processing over 20% of the total Federal grant dollars, yet operates for a fraction of the budget of individual agency grant systems.  CoE partners report substantial benefits from the relationship, including a large reduction in their grant administration costs and significant improvements in both productivity and customer service.  Because of these successes, new business was begun this year with the three additional agencies (USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, HHS Health Resources and Services Administration, and Treasury Community Development Financial Institutions) bringing our total to the eight listed above.  The CoE commitment to innovation and quality will secure the success of these and future partnerships.

Geospatial Data

The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Geospatial Data Warehouse is an active participant in the Human Health and Disease channel of the Geospatial One-Stop e-Gov initiative.  In support of HHS mission and business decisions, the HRSA Geospatial Data Warehouse was developed to provide tools and visualization power of HRSA’s resources to effectively communicate health inequalities. The Geospatial Data Warehouse has been instrumental in supporting emergency response efforts (most recently Hurricane Katrina), TOPOFF 3 exercises, U.S. Mexico Border Health projects, Adolescent Health, and Rural Health projects. To facilitate data sharing, the Geospatial Data Warehouse is accessible to anyone (via the Web) to query or to incorporate HRSA’s spatial data into their own analysis efforts.  HRSA is currently partnering with other HHS agencies and externally with the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). HRSA geospatial data is registered with the Federal Geographic Data Committee Clearinghouse and can be accessed through Geospatial One-Stop http://geodata.gov/wps/portal/gos In October 2005 HRSA received an award from Government Computer News – “Agency Award for Innovation” for the Geospatial effort.

E-Gov Travel Solution

HHS has implemented their E-Gov Travel solution throughout nearly the entire Department.  One HHS Operating Division remains to be migrated to the single travel system in accordance with a waiver received from GSA under the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR). The new single, standardized travel solution eliminated 4 legacy travel systems and 24 individual contracts with various Travel Management Centers.  The unified solution at HHS aims to standardize processes within the Department, improve customer service, reduce annual costs, and allow users access to information via the internet 24/7. It also moves the Department to a paperless process.  HHS began their implementation effort over two years ago to meet the FTR mandated implementation date of September 30, 2006. 

IHS Electronic Health Record

The Indian Health Service (IHS) Resource and Patient Management (RPMS) health information system continues to evolve, with emphasis on improvements in patient safety, quality of care, and management of chronic disease.  The IHS Electronic Health Record (EHR) is the next phase of clinical software development for the IHS RPMS and a major Information Technology (IT) priority. The IHS-EHR enables clinicians to make safer, more informed decisions and builds on more than 20 years of successful health information systems collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs.  This is in keeping with both the President’s Executive Order 13335 - Incentives for the Use of Health Information Technology and Establishing the Position of the National Health Information Technology Coordinator, and, the HHS directive to establish a nationwide EHR through the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

As of September 30, 2006, the RPMS EHR Graphical User Interface is in clinical use at 65 facilities nationwide.  Sites continue to report a high level of user satisfaction and positive impact on patient care.  All IHS Areas are actively supporting the continued rollout of EHR to Federal and Tribal facilities.  Enhancement of EHR is ongoing, with a new version being alpha-tested at two facilities.  Current development includes enhancements to improve medication management, documentation of care, and inclusion of capabilities for management of behavioral health patients.

The capabilities of the RPMS system have been recognized by entities outside of IHS.  The National Aeronautical Space Administration (NASA) is adopting RPMS for its system of occupational health, and the West Virginia Primary Care Network is using RPMS and the RPMS EHR in its HRSA-funded facilities.

The award-winning Clinical Reporting System (CRS), awarded the national Davies Award of Public Health IT from the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), is being updated for its sixth year of providing IHS, Tribal, and Urban (I/T/U) health care facilities with tools for evaluation and reporting of clinical performance.  The IHS enhanced the CRS significantly in 2006 by adding 9 new performance measure topics and new performance measurement assessment tools to enable I/T/U health care providers and quality improvement staff to monitor and evaluate their clinical performance.  Overall, the CRS is now able to produce reports on demand from local databases for one or more of 50 clinical topics, comprised of over 349 individual indicators/performance measures. 

The IHS began testing a new Integrated Case Management application in the fourth quarter of Fiscal year 2006; this application marks a transformation in care management for high risk and chronic disease patients. 

HHS Information Collection Request, Review, and Approval System (ICRAS)

ICRAS is a web-based, enterprise-wide database application that provides capability to electronically prepare, store, track, report, and administer the procedures used to obtain Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval for the collection of information from the public. ICRAS offers authorized users the functionality of electronically creating Information Collection Requests (ICRs) in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995. 

ICRAS features include the following:

  • ICRAS can be set to mirror the agencies’ internal business practices for preparing, reviewing, and submitting ICRs to OMB.
  • ICRAS employs email alerts and reminders to ensure preparers and reviewers receive real-time status of collections.
  • ICRAS includes a full-history of each ICR from creation to OMB approval and it tracks the status of the package as it is prepared and reviewed by multiple parties.
  • ICRAS can be used to transmit packages electronically to OMB and retrieve current package status information, eliminating the need to logon to a second system (ROCIS) to manually enter data or check status.

Implementation of ICRAS at HHS has eliminated paper records, replacing them with a web-based electronic process. These records often included hundreds of pages, requiring a labor intensive effort to file, research and store such a large volume.  ICRAS stores all current and historical records electronically, eliminating the labor intensive storage, filing and research tasks of the past.  While ICRAS does not directly touch the public, it has improved the internal processes used to review and approve information collections to which the public or external partners respond.

Information Dissemination Determination Process

HHS has developed an inventory of content to be made available on the Internet as required by Section 207(f) (2) of the E-Government Act of 2002 and OMB Memorandum M-05-04 “Policies for Federal Agency Public Web sites”. This inventory is intended to be comprehensive, and to represent content from all agencies and staff offices of HHS.  HHS is the United States government's principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially to those who are least able to help themselves. The Department includes more than 300 programs, covering a wide spectrum of activities. In the course of carrying out program missions, agencies and staff offices within HHS disseminate a wide variety of information to the public, ranging from research and statistical reports to authoritative health and medical information.

In preparing this inventory, HHS reviewed information collected as part of the redesign process for HHS.Gov, including citizen comments via e-mail, a customer survey, focus groups, and usability tests; current Web site statistics indicating usage of existing content; and related information developed through the Information Quality Guidelines process (per Section 515 of Public Law 106-554, known as the Data Quality Act).

Inventories and Schedules

In the table below, Column 1, “Category,” lists the categories of information HHS disseminates. Column 2, “Priority,” indicates the priority HHS assigns to publication of each category; priorities are defined as follows. Column 3, “Publication Target,” indicates the publication schedule for the category.

  • Priority 1:  Urgent public health emergency and safety information.
  • Priority 2:  Time-sensitive information.
  • Priority 3:  Information of interest to a broad spectrum of audiences.
  • Priority 4:  Other information.

For examples of specific information products available from individual HHS agencies, please visit the HHS Information Quality Web site at http://aspe.hhs.gov/infoquality/.


HHS Information Category

Priority

Publication Target

1.      Urgent public health emergency and safety information disseminated on a real-time basis in order to protect the health of the public against urgent and emerging threats.

1

As available, unless otherwise required by law

2.      Press information, including press releases, fact sheets, speeches, events, and testimony.

2

As available, unless otherwise required by law

3.      Authoritative health, scientific and consumer information intended for consumers and the professional community.

3

As available, unless otherwise required by law

4.      Guidelines and standards related to public health, health care, research, social services, safety, etc.

4

As available, unless otherwise required by law

5.      General Departmental information, such as mission and function statements, leadership biographies, visitor information, employment opportunities, staff directories, etc.

4

As available, unless otherwise required by law

6.      Science education materials and training modules for students at all levels and researchers.

3

As available, unless otherwise required by law

7.      Programmatic and administrative information, including descriptive narratives, statistical information, technical assistance materials, best practices, and reports.

4

As available, unless otherwise required by law

8.      Grant and contract policy and funding information related to all programmatic activities.

2

As available, unless otherwise required by law

9.      Public health surveillance and epidemiological data and analyses from public health surveillance systems and epidemiological activities.

3

As available, unless otherwise required by law

10.  Peer-reviewed scientific research.

3

As available, unless otherwise required by law

11.  Research resources such as data banks, gene collections, model organisms, cell registries, and reagent repositories.

4

As available, unless otherwise required by law

12.  Reports to Congress as required by statute.

4

As required by law

13.  Program evaluation studies undertaken to assess program activities and identify opportunities for improvement.

4

As available, unless otherwise required by law

14.  Regulatory information in support of regulatory development and decision-making.

2

As available, unless otherwise required by law

15.  Computer software intended to support individual decision-making, professional practice, and governmental activities at the state and local level.

4

As available, unless otherwise required by law


Public Comment

The initial inventory was posted on the Department’s primary Web site at www.hhs.gov/webinventory/ for public comment for the period of December 1, 2004 through December 12, 2004.  The final inventory was posted to that Web site on December 17, 2004, and subsequently transmitted to the Office of Management and Budget.  The inventory will be updated as required by the E-Gov Act.

Progress on Searching Public Web sites

In 2006 the Department upgraded the search appliances to the most recent hardware and software versions to further improve user search capability. This enhancement furthers the work begun in 2003 and 2004, when the Department evaluated a number of major search technologies, enterprise search tools in use at various divisions of HHS, and major vendors of search tools.  As a result of that search, HHS adopted a search engine in 2005 to provide an HHS-wide Internet search of all Departmental public Web sites.  This search engine was put into production in March 2005 on www.hhs.gov.

An initial search index was created using all approved second-level domain names registered by the Department.  The search engine ‘crawler’ identified third- and fourth-level domain names used by specific Web servers as well as the Web servers to which those sites linked.  Content management staff reviewed the resultant Internet index and information not intended for the general public was removed.  As a final step to ensure all public sites were properly represented in the search index, input was obtained from all divisions of the Department.  This index is monitored daily to ensure that Web sites are available to the public, and official Web representatives from each division of the Department are required to notify the HHS Web Communications Division in the Office of the Secretary of any new Web servers put into production so they can be evaluated for inclusion in the index of public Web sites.

The Department’s search appliance on www.hhs.gov is indexing nightly approximately 1 million unique document URLs to ensure currency of the information; an increase from 740,000 last year.  The user can sort search results in order of relevance to the search term or date (using metadata, if present, or date of file creation).  The search relevance algorithm supplies quality in the search results.  The search response time is equal to industry best practices, and surge capacity is adequate to maintain response time during periods of unusual site traffic associated with health emergencies or significant program announcements. 

Coordinating Information Dissemination Activities with Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) Operations

As the coordinating Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) office for the HHS Operating Divisions (OPDIVs), the Office of the Secretary is currently redesigning the HHS FOIA Web site to make access to information more readily available to the public.  This includes creating a more user-friendly Web site so the public can find the information they are seeking, and providing linking capabilities from the HHS Web site to the OPDIVs.  To view the HHS FOIA site go to www.hhs.gov/foia.

Categorizing of Information

HHS is taking steps to fulfill responsibilities under Section 207(d), “Categorizing of Information,” of the Act.  The formation of the HHS Web Governance Work Group in July 2005, with representatives from all the OPDIVs and STAFFDIVs, has allowed HHS to move forward with developing an HHS Web site infrastructure that includes standardized information architecture and metadata to support and enable the most effective and efficient delivery of Department information.

Public Access to Electronic Information

In accordance with Section 207(e), “Public Access to Electronic Information,” HHS continues to manage its records, including electronic records, consistent with 44 U.S.C. Ch. 31, 44 U.S.C. 3506, 36 CFR Ch. XII, Subchapter B, Records Management, and OMB Circular A-130, par. 8a1(j) and (k) and 8a4.  HHS is also in the process of establishing guidelines for National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)-approved records schedules for all records in existing electronic information systems.

Access to Federally Funded Research and Development

To comply with Section 207(g), “Access to Federally Funded Research and Development,” HHS makes available through Science.gov a database of federally funded Research and Development (R&D) activities.  Information about these activities is found on the CRISP (Computer Retrieval of Information on Scientific Projects) database at crisp.cit.nih.gov.