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Open Government Directive: Evaluating HHS Progress

The Open Government Directive set deadlines for implementation. Departments have been asked to score their initial implementation actions. The HHS response is below.

Please Read and Comment on Our Plan

Agency: HHS

Point of Contact (email): 

High-Value Data
MeetsHHS published four high-value data sets in an open, machine-readable format by January 22 in response to the Open Government Directive.  Three are registered on as "raw data sets," and one as a "data tool" which allows users to download raw data files.  The four data sets are as follows:

(1) Medicare Part B National Summary Data File --  this highly valuable data set has previously been available for a fee of $100 per year's worth of data and only on CD ROM.  For the first time, CMS has made this data set downloadable from the web and free of charge.  This data set provides detailed breakdowns of volume of physician services delivered to Medicare beneficiaries and payments for those services – by individual procedure code (e.g., by type of anesthesiology service, cardiology service, etc.).  These data can be used to look at patterns of Medicare spending as well as analyze the types of services delivered to address the health needs of the Medicare population.

(2) FDA's Electronic Animal Drug Product Listing Directory -- this file, made available to the public for the first time, contains information, downloadable and updated nightly, on animal drug products from the FDA’s electronic registration and listing system. Information in the Directory includes product type (e.g., whether the product is a prescription or an over-the-counter animal drug), National Drug Code (NDC) number, trade name, non-proprietary or established name, labeler name, approval status, application number and a link to the Structured Product Labeling (SPL) associated with each drug.  Disclosure of this information provides interested individuals and organizations with information they can use to inform their drug product choices.  The animal health industry can use the data to learn about actively marketed animal drug products and their submitted labeling, and also to determine if they have successfully listed their products electronically in compliance with new regulations.

(3) HHS’s Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals (OMHA): State by State Summary of Appeals, 2006-2009 --  this data set contains the number of Medicare appeals and claims submitted to OMHA from appellants by state from fiscal year 2006 to 2009.  This data has never before been publicly released, and meets the definition of "high value" as defined by the Directive as it "improves public knowledge of the agency and its operations." The data provides Medicare appellants and interested parties with a gauge of volume of appeals generated from their state.  The data are also grouped by appeal jurisdiction, and communicate the overall workload of OMHA.

(4) NIH ExPORTER, which allows the public to download, for the first time, data files which include all NIH-funded research grants, contracts, and intramural projects from 2005-2009, abstracts for these projects, citation information for publications that acknowledged support from any of these projects, patents reported by investigators funded by these NIH projects, and relational tables that link all of the above together.  NIH has received many public requests for these files to be made available in downloadable form.  Patient advocates have expressed interest because these files pull together information on grants and publications that they have been amassing manually.  The biomedical research community is interested in analyzing the data to find collaborators, develop literature bases, and analyze trends in biomedical research.  Policy makers and evaluators are interested in analyzing research funding, programs supported, and the results of those programs.  Venture capitalists and pharmaceutical companies are interested in mining the files to understand the latest trends in federally-funded research.

Data Integrity
MeetsOn January 20, 2010, HHS designated its acting Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources, Richard Turman, to be accountable for the quality and objectivity of, and internal controls over, publicly-disseminated HHS spending information.    

Open Government Webpage
MeetsHHS's Open Government (OG) Webpage,, deployed on February 5, 2010, delivers all elements required by the OG Directive:  more than 100 data sets (four new) and tools with links for downloading; the opportunity for the public to provide input on an HHS OG Plan outline; an interactive OG Blog; HHS's 2009 FOIA Report published in an open format and with contacts for each HHS FOIA office; a preliminary listing of opportunities for the public to interface with HHS; information on HHS records management; and a Directory of HHS Leadership with contact information. 

Public Consultation
MeetsHHS's Open Government (OG) website proactively seeks public input regarding the HHS OG Plan, thoughts about what our data publication priorities should be, and feedback on the quality of our published information.  Through an interactive tool, the public can suggest new ideas and vote and comment on entries from others.  HHS has established an interactive OG Blog on the website and will seek comments on OG topics on an ongoing basis.  We will summarize public comments and respond to emerging threads and ideas, inviting further comment to flesh out the ones that are most promising.   
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