Compliance with IT Dashboard, Data.gov, eRulemaking, Recovery.gov, and USASpending.gov Guidance
HHS is committed to improving access to data posted on central government websites to ensure greater transparency in programs and greater accountability for resources. HHS provides information to the IT Dashboard, eRulemaking, Data.gov, USASpending.gov, and Recovery.gov websites to increase public access to what we do, how we impact needy populations and communities, and how well we are performing in these areas.
The spirit of Open Government affords HHS an exciting opportunity to examine ways to streamline data and systems across functional areas to improve the completeness and the accuracy of our data. This section will describe the Department’s general approach to fostering high quality financial data, and outline its current compliance activities. Additional steps to enhance the quality of financial data and address quality gaps were outlined in HHS’s Open Government Financial Data Quality Plan of June 2010. As addressed in the plan, HHS invites the public to review our current data processes and transparency efforts in order to more fully engage the public in our ongoing efforts to improve data quality and resolve deficiencies in a timely manner.
Federal IT Dashboard
The IT Dashboard is a new website, launched by the Office of Management and Budget in June 2009, which enables federal agencies and the general public to view details of federal information technology investments.
What does the IT Dashboard Do?
The IT Dashboard helps the public review and track the spending, performance, and progress of technology investments over time. Users can obtain more information about the kinds of technology in which HHS is investing, who is performing this work, and other details of technology spending.
How is HHS complying with OMB IT Dashboard Guidance?
HHS has embraced the Federal IT Dashboard transparency imperative and fulfilled all associated requirements by integrating the Federal IT Dashboard with existing HHS IT investment governance processes, assigning HHS Chief Information Officer (CIO) IT investment ratings, focusing on timely updates and data quality, and establishing a new process to address public questions/concerns. The Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) is responsible for administering these activities. HHS actions include the following:
- Integrating Federal IT Dashboard with IT Investment Oversight: HHS has integrated the Federal IT Dashboard into its existing IT review and oversight activities. This includes sending monthly updates of IT investment data to the Federal IT Dashboard and incorporating reviews of information posted on the Federal IT Dashboard as part of monthly HHS IT investment reviews.
- Assigning HHS CIO IT Investment Ratings: In July 2009, in accordance with Federal CIO Rating guidance, HHS OCIO assigned initial CIO IT investment evaluation ratings to all of its major IT investments posted on the Federal IT Dashboard. HHS initial CIO evaluations focused on leading indicators of project success, including performance/risk management, quality of planning, and stakeholder approval.
- Focusing on Timely Updates and Data Quality: Since the Federal IT Dashboard was released, HHS has consistently updated its IT investment information on the Federal IT Dashboard by the last day of the reporting month to ensure the presentation of quality data to the public and for informing IT investment reviews.
- Establishing a New Process to Address Public Questions/Concerns: To engage with the public on IT investments, HHS has established a process for responding to a public inquiry on the IT Dashboard. The HHS OCIO is responsible for coordinating a response to public inquiry with the end communication issued by a Public Affairs representative.
Data.gov is a website sponsored by the Office of Management and Budget and federal agencies to increase public access to high value, “machine readable” federal data sets.
What does Data.gov provide?
Data.gov provides searchable data catalogs that present data in three ways: through a "raw" data catalog, a tool catalog, and a geodata catalog. HHS posts data under the "raw" data catalog and the tool catalog since much of our data are currently available in these formats.
How is HHS complying with the Office of Management and Budget’s Data.gov Guidance?
Since the launch of Data.gov in May 2009, HHS has mobilized its Operating Divisions and programs to identify and submit high-value data sets that allow the public greater access to downloadable data. Please review Section 3.1 for a description of the HHS data currently available for download on Data.gov.
HHS is committed to not only increasing the public’s ability to locate, access, understand, and use the data posted to Data.gov, but is also committed to monitoring and improving the quality of the high-value data sets we release. Details on planned actions to improve the quality of spending information on Data.gov are included in the Department’s Open Government Financial Data Quality Plan.
eRulemaking is a current government-wide initiative committed to the following objectives:
- Increasing public access to and participation in developing regulations and other related documents that can impact the public
- Promoting more efficient and effective rulemaking through public involvement
How does eRulemaking work?
In 2003, the eRulemaking program launched the Regulations.gov website to enable citizens to search, view and comment on regulations issued by the Federal government.
On average, federal agencies and departments issue nearly 8,000 regulations per year. In the past, if members of the public were interested in commenting on a regulation, they would have to know the sponsoring agency, when it would be published, review it in a reading room, then struggle through a comment process specific to each agency. Today using Regulations.gov, the public can shape rules and regulations that impact their lives conveniently, from anywhere. By accessing Regulations.gov , the public can view and comment on regulations with less burden and more engagement with agencies throughout the eRulemaking process.
How is HHS participating in eRulemaking?
A number of HHS Operating Divisions are complying with eRulemaking goals by using designated eRulemaking systems for their rulemaking activities. The Department’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) use the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) -- a pillar of the eRulemaking initiative -- for their rulemaking business.
Process and Background:
CMS and FDA use FDMS to process all regulations and notices. Specifically, all regulations and notices published in the Federal Register are posted to Regulations.gov. With limited exceptions, public comments are processed and posted at Regulations.gov for public viewing.
- CMS issues an average of 150 Federal Register documents per year. FDA issued 705 Federal Register documents in 2009. The number of comments for each regulation varies, but in 2009 CMS received over 25,000 comments.
Benefits to the Public:
Fewer citizens have to go to FDA in person to view a document. The change has been dramatic. FDA public-room visits from visitors have decreased, from 1,203 in 2007 to 351 in 2009. And as a result of increased web accessibility, related FOIA requests decreased from 1,135 in 2007 to 323 in 2009.
- CMS staff note that FDMS has provided the public with greater access to CMS’s regulations by allowing the public to view the CMS regulations online. In addition, FDMS provides the convenience of allowing the public to submit comments electronically and participate more easily in the rulemaking process.
Benefits to HHS:
- FDMS has allowed better use of staff resources, because the public has virtually stopped submitting paper comments, instead using the FDMS to submit electronic comments
- CMS staff now manages public comments more efficiently. FDMS allows components within CMS to access the comments quickly, which in turn facilitates the development and clearance of policies more quickly
USASpending.gov is the Office of Management and Budget’s response to the requirements of the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (Transparency Act or FFATA). The Transparency Act requires a single searchable website, accessible by the public for free that includes for each federal award:
- Name of the entity receiving the award;
- Amount of the award;
- Information on the award including transaction type, funding agency, etc;
- Location of the entity receiving the award;
- Unique identifier of the entity receiving the award.
How does USASpending.gov work?
Data on USASpending.gov are largely obtained from the following sources: the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS), which contains information about federal contracts; and the Federal Assistance Award Data System (FAADS), which contains information about federal financial assistance such as grants, loans, insurance, and direct subsidies. Data are also obtained from agency submissions via OMB’s FAADS PLUS file format.
How is HHS Complying with USASpending.gov Guidance?
Since 2006 HHS has achieved outstanding performance on USASpending.gov data transmission and compliance. Current performance is based on based on the timeliness and content of data submission. To view current HHS USASpending.gov performance, visit: http://www.usaspending.gov/explore?&carryfilters=on&tab=By%20Agency&fiscal_year=2010&tab=By%20Agency&maj_contracting_agency=75&fromfiscal=yes&overridecook=yes.
What about HHS’ Financial Assistance Data in USASpending.gov?
To send assistance data to USASpending.gov, HHS uses its Tracking Accountability in Government Grants System (TAGGS). Grant data from HHS’ Operating Divisions and Staff Divisions are submitted on a weekly and bi-weekly basis to TAGGS, and these data are reported to USASpending.gov on a bi-weekly basis. HHS has instituted data validation processes to ensure the consistency and accuracy of its grants award data.
What about HHS’ Contract Award Data in USASpending.gov?
HHS uses its Departmental Contracts Information System (DCIS) to collect, report, and transmit contract award data to the Federal Procurement Database System (FPDS). DCIS receives data from HHS’ contract writing systems. HHS relies upon the data validation and edit-check features found within FPDS to ensure the accuracy and completeness of its contract award data. The timeliness of each contracting offices’ completion of the contract action reports is measured on a quarterly basis. These financial data are transmitted to USASpending.gov by FPDS on a bi-weekly basis. OMB posts these data on USASpending.gov on a bi-weekly and monthly basis.
What are the Identified Areas for Improvement?
HHS is building upon its current successes and actively working to improve the quality of financial assistance and contract award data in USASpending.gov. Although HHS has achieved outstanding USASpending.gov performance to date, HHS’ Open Government Financial Data Quality Plan identifies areas for improvement and associated costs, and formalizes a strategy to enhance the quality of spending information and sustain this work overtime.
Recovery.gov is the Office of Management and Budget’s website to track and report on American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) spending and to report fraud, waste, and abuse.
How is HHS Complying with Recovery.gov Guidance?
HHS has achieved full compliance with Recovery.gov mandates. The Department’s strategic response to the requirements of ARRA and Recovery.gov was an unprecedented effort to mobilize, modify, develop, and enhance staff and resources to oversee the effective execution of over $141 billion in ARRA funding. Specific ARRA activities include the following:
- Submission of ARRA Financial and Activity Reports: HHS submits a weekly ARRA Financial and Activity Report from the Department’s financial management system to the Office of Management and Budget to provide the public with a snapshot of HHS’ Recovery Act obligations and outlays.
- Submission of Bi-Weekly ARRA Transaction Level Data: OMB uses the Recovery Act transaction data sent to USASpending.gov to populate and update the Recovery.gov Total Funding Map, displaying total ARRA funding to States.
- Recipient Reporting Support: HHS provides additional support to ARRA recipients through an innovative web-based tool that assists grantees in locating, tracking, and understanding data for the quarterly recipient reporting requirements. The Recovery Act Recipient Reporting Readiness Tool (RRT), which is available at http://taggs.hhs.gov/ReadinessTool/ enhances data quality for HHS and recipients by ensuring that data are synchronized in recipient and agency systems for quarterly reporting.
As a result of using this tool, HHS achieved a 99.4% OMB recipient reporting success rate. HHS was able to validate that over 99% of ARRA grant recipients complied with FederalReporting.gov requirements. Other achievements include:
- Lowering burden on recipients for reporting;
- Providing recipients a source of information for critical grant award data fields needed for OMB reports; and
- Bridging key gaps between state and federal award data and systems.
As a result of specific Reporting Readiness Tool outcomes, OMB has designated HHS’s Reporting Readiness Tool as the primary model all government agencies should follow to improve ARRA recipient data quality and reporting performance.