Participation and Collaboration
HHS has been working to increase public participation. For example, with the passage of the COMPETES Act of 2010, HHS has been implementing guidelines and procedures to promote the use of challenge competitions across HHS, including more than 50 challenge competitions conducted since the initial HHS Open Government plan. These serve as a highly effective way to receive new insights into HHS problems and attract new solutions providers to specific areas of high need for HHS agencies. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT initiated a challenge program that is helping other HHS agencies develop expertise in developing challenge competitions. These challenge competitions are being integrated into other programmatic areas to achieve continued development and implementation of prototype and early start up technologies. Program experts from across HHS have participated in communities of practice on activities aimed at engaging greater participation by the public. The Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is using web 2.0 tools to launch automated downloads of licensing and cooperative development activities for new medical products. Working with the Food and Drug Administration, OTT formed a regional private-public partnership in Maryland with BioHealth Innovation to bring entrepreneurs-in-residence on board to focus on commercializing market-relevant biohealth innovations and increasing access to early-stage funding.
To promote the uses of tools to enhance participation and collaboration, HHS established a toolkit for program managers to learn how to engage in innovation and collaboration activities, such as the use of challenge competitions. There are available a wide array of resources, galleries, and contacts for program managers to learn how their peers are using new tools to engage the public – available at the hhs.gov/open web site.
HHS’s collaborative efforts in Open Government are engaging other federal agencies. A highly successful project conducted with the Veterans Health Administration and the Department of Defense is enabling large numbers of active duty military members, veterans, their beneficiaries, and recipients of Medicare services, to obtain health records. Known as “Blue Button,” the project enables easy computer access to vital health information, making it available for customizable consumer use while maintaining privacy. More than 350,000 individuals have already accessed the Blue Button tools.