Section III: Steps Taken to Increase Proactive Disclosures

The Department of Justice has long focused on the need for agencies to work proactively to post information online without waiting for individual requests to be received.

Please answer the following questions to describe the steps your agency has taken to increase the amount of material that is available on your agency websites. In addition to the questions below, you should also describe any additional steps taken by your agency to make and improve proactive disclosures of information.

1. Provide examples of material that your agency has proactively disclosed during the past reporting year, including links to the posted material.

HHS continues to employ a number of ways to identify records for online public disclosure. HHS OpDivs use the established threshold of three requests for the same information to identify records of substantial public interest, either by reviewing FOIA logs, manually tracking FOIA requests or from identifying requests for the same records from an electronic tracking system. In addition, information is gathered from program areas and offices about significant policy documents that may be candidates for proactive disclosure, and public affairs and communications staff provide input and suggestions for records they believe should be proactively disclosed to the public.

Please see the examples, listed below, of material that HHS has proactively disclosed during FY 2018.

  • FDA has proactively disclosed the following information:
  • FAERs public dashboard, an interactive web-based tool that allows for the querying of FAERS data in a user friendly fashion. The intention of this tool is to expand access of FAERS data to the general public to search for information related to human adverse events reported to the FDA by the pharmaceutical industry, healthcare providers and consumers. See:
  • Data sets, such as, which relate to inspections, compliance and recalls. This dynamic online tool presents information in an easy-to-read graphical format. It provides access to the underlying data, allowing the public to see related data and trends. Users can also view, download and manipulate the data.
  • Agency components continue to create web pages for specific issues of heightened consumer or media interest, to better inform the Agency's constituency without requiring the submission of a FOIA request. For example, FDA has posted extensive information in the reporting period on such subjects as:
  • Drug compounding:
  • FDA also continues to post the following records on a regular basis, among others:
  • HRSA continued to post the Universal Data Set (UDS) report which contains the data reported by over 1,300 HRSA-funded Federally Qualified Community Health Centers (FQHCs). Every FQHC must file an annual UDS report made up of 14 highly detailed tables with approximately 20,000 data points. See:
  • NIH has proactively disclosed the following information:


  • Contract Solicitations: Contract for the operation and maintenance of the Alamogordo Primate Facility (APF). In accordance with FAR 5.2, a sources sought notice was published on the Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) website on May 30, 2018. The notice sought sources capable of satisfying the SOW in compliance with applicable federal laws, regulations, and policies. See:
  • Additionally, an intent to sole source notice was subsequently published on FBO on September 20, 2018. The notice publicized the Government's intent to sole source the requirement to Charles River Laboratories, Inc. but it also provided another opportunity for other capable resources to respond. The notice closed on October 05, 2018. See:
  • Contract for the Operation and Maintenance of the Federal Chimpanzee Sanctuary System for Retired Chimpanzees:




  • Health Topics
  • Spanish Health Topics
  • Information about new research
  • New initiatives
  • Website and social media awareness
  • NHLBI Engagement and Media Relations Team featured Today's Faces of Sickle Cell Disease, a campaign that elevates the stories of people, including patients, researchers, advocates, and caregivers, who have dedicated their lives to finding a widely available cure for sickle cell disease (9/2017)
  • NHLBI Engagement and Media Relations Team hosted the "Sickle Cell Research Directions: Toward a Widely Available Cure" NHLBI's first Facebook Live (9/2017)
  • NHLBI Health Education team ensured that The COPD National Action Plan was finalized (20K printed). A new webpage was developed and promotional resources were created including COPD National Action Plan At-A-Glance (25K printed and electronic version developed); one outreach toolkit; one fact sheet; one slide set for partners to use to promote the plan; social media resources including shareable images and COPD state prevalence infocards; one COPD Nation Action Plan video; and four animations promoting the goals of the Action Plan. (7-9/2017)
  • NHLBI Engagement and Media Relations Team produced and published 2017 Orloff winners (videos produced in 2017 and released in Jan. 2018)
  • NHLBI Health Education team updated the COPD plan, ancillary materials, and webpage with new COPD statistics. COPD moved from the 3rd leading cause of death to 4th so all materials had to be updated.(2/2018)
  • NHLBI Health Education team developed and distributed quarterly newsletter for the Breathe Better Network and Learn More Breathe Better program, reaching more than 12,000 subscribers (1-3/2018)
  • NHLBI Health Education team developed and created 111 American Heart Month resources, including: 10 Facebook posts and 10 Tweets (2 Spanish), 3 social media cards (1 Spanish), 1 Wear Red Day print-your-own sticker. (1-3/2018)
  • NHLBI Engagement and Media Relations Team Conducted social campaigns to promote #MoveWithHeart kinetic video and pledge initiative on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (1-3/2018)
  • NHLBI Engagement and Media Relations Team hosted a Facebook Live event to share messages about high blood pressure on World Hypertension Day. The NHLBI's partner, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), also participated in the event. The Facebook Page garnered more than 30,000 impressions and a reach of 22,032 people. (2/2018)
  • Press releases





  • The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study updates: The ABCD Data Repository was established to store and share data generated by investigators as part of the ABCD. The NIH seeks to encourage the use of these resources to achieve rapid scientific progress.
  • The NIDA Data Share web site ( is an electronic environment that allows data from completed clinical trials to be distributed to investigators and the public. Currently there are 71 clinical trial datasets available on the site. The following trials were added during the reporting period:
  • NIDA-CSP-1019 Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial Of Selegiline Transdermal System For The Treatment Of Cocaine Dependence
  • NIDA-CSP-1021 Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Multi-Center Trial Of Baclofen For The Treatment Of Cocaine Dependence
  • NIDA-CSP-1022 Phase 2, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial Of Selegiline Transdermal System (STS) As An Aid For Smoking Cessation
  • NIDA-CTN-0049 Project HOPE - Hospital Visit as Opportunity for Prevention and Engagement for HIV-Infected Drug Users
  • NIDA-CTN-0053 Achieving Cannabis Cessation-Evaluating N-Acetylcysteine Treatment (ACCENT)
  • NIDA-CTO-0008 Phase 2, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial Of Bupropion for the Treatment of Methamphetamine Dependence
  • NIDA-CTO-0010 Assessment of Potential Interactions Between Methamphetamine and Bupropion
  • NIDA-MDS-0002 Assessment of Interactions Between Methamphetamine and Aripiprazole


  • NTP uses its website and several databases to store content available to the public. Here are some specific proactive disclosures:


  • Strategic Planning, Budget, and Funding Information:
  • Current NIMH-funded research findings, such as:
  • Federal Advisory Committee Act (Activities):
  • Training, Educational, and Health Information sites:
  • NINDS:

Several public health information materials were created and/or updated and loaded to the NINDS public website in FY 18, including:

  • NINR
  • NINR updated its brochure, Palliative Care: The Relief You Need When You Have a Serious Illness. The revised publication is available in English and Spanish.
  • Several new videos have been posted to the NINR YouTube channel (, including:
  • Video from Precision Health: Smart Technologies, Smart Health Symposium.
  • MedcapeTV features NINR's Precision Health Boot Camp.
  • Videos from the NINR Director's Lecture series including:
  • Dr. Ann Marie McCarthy "Distraction in Action: Helping Children Cope with Painful Procedures."
  • Dr. Jacquelyn Taylor "Hypertension Genomics in Black Families: A Tale of 3 Studies, and Counting…"
  • Dr. Andrea Barsevick "The Science of Symptom Management."
  • Dr. Margaret Heitkemper "Symptom Science in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Biomarkers to Intervention."
  • Videos of scientific presentations from meetings of the National Advisory Council for Nursing Research.

2. Please describe how your agency identifies records that have been requested and released three or more times (and are therefore required to be proactively disclosed pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(2)(D)).

The Department continues to actively use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Pinterest and GooglePlus to communicate and disseminate information to the public. Some examples of HHS OpDiv initiatives are described below:

  • The CDC FOIA tracking system has a utility that identifies similar requests. It is utilized as a guidepost and rely on staff to monitor and identify requests similar in nature.
  • CMS compares the requests received to determine if the date parameters and subject of the requested records are the same or similar. Subsequently, it compares the content of the responsive records to determine if the frequently requested threshold has been achieved.
  • The FDA FOIA Office reviews every FOIA request prior to logging and assignment on a daily basis. During that process, staff members identifies requests for records that should be proactively posted under the requirements of the FOIA. The FDA FOIA Office works with the components that maintain those records in order to have them proactively posted. The various components may also determine based on their own processing of requests that certain records should be proactively posted.
  • The HRSA FOIA Office continuously monitors the incoming requests and review FOIA logs to identify requests that appear to be asking for identical or very similar information.
  • The IHS FOIA Office utilizes the FOIA database to monitor and track incoming requests.
  • The NIH FOIA Office reviews the log of all incoming FOIA requests weekly and identifies frequently requested documents that appear to be of interest. The NIH FOIA Officer also reviews all completed requests monthly to identify frequently requested documents. In addition, each of the NIH FOIA Coordinators also reviews their individual logs (available from the NIH-wide Tracking System) to identify frequently requested documents or program areas in which there is continued interest. Finally, the NIH FOIA Community meets monthly. During those meetings, materials produced more than three times in response to FOIA requests are identified for posting.

3. Beyond posting new material, is your agency taking steps to make the posted information more useful to the public, especially to the community of individuals who regularly access your agency's website?

Yes. HHS continues its efforts to make more information available through mobile applications and increase its presence in social media; thereby expanding access to more useful information and data. In addition, the Department's FOIA Offices continue to make their online content and navigation tools more user-friendly, to include the use of "topical terms" to aid requesters in their search efforts.

4. If yes, please provide examples of such improvements.

  • CMS receives numerous online queries for "Nursing Home Providers" but have included a separate more defined search topic of "statement of deficiencies" of "Nursing Home Providers."
  • FDA uses social media, such as Facebook. See FDA has increased its Twitter feeds, with each component having its own Twitter feed. The Commissioner writes a blog on high visibility issues ( FDA posts high priority public information on the homepage of the agency website, The FDA provides the public with the ability to subscribe to RSS feed notices or sign up to receive automated emails for updates to over 100 different web pages/databases (see  FDA is currently engaged in a redesign of its website, which should be completed in early 2019.
  • HRSA's extremely large and complex UDS database is primarily of interest to the academic community and others who carefully monitor the performance of the FQHCS. But for more general consumption, the HRSA Bureau of Primary Health Care posts "Health Center Profiles" for each FQHC that are based on their annual UDS report. These profiles are readily understandable "snapshots" that present a summary of the UDS data which is most indicative of how many patients were seen and what type off care was provided to them by a particular FQHC in a given year. These profiles are located at:
  • IHS Program Offices update new health initiatives or services for American Indians/Alaskan Natives on their homepage.
  • NIH:
  • The NIH FOIA Officer attends weekly meetings with the NIH Associate Director for Communications and Public Liaison and his deputies, including the Deputy Director for Public Affairs and the Chief of the News Media Branch. At these meetings, current media issues are discussed as well as upcoming NIH events. Those for which we anticipate interest are identified for proactive disclosure.
  • The NIH Associate Director for Communications and Public Liaison meets bi-monthly with the Communications Directors of the NIH Institutes and Centers where matters of interest to the public are discussed and identified for proactive disclosure. Especially when major research initiatives are being announced, those involved identify material that will assist with informing the public and that information is posted at the time of the announcement.
  • The NIH Associate Director for Communications and Public Liaison, the FOIA Officer's direct reporting official, also attends weekly meetings of NIH Leadership where program initiatives, upcoming meetings and high-profile matters are discussed. Any matter he believes may be appropriate for proactive disclosure are then discussed with the FOIA Officer.
  • Within the NIH components, various communications, research, and policy individuals monitor their component's activities and research portfolios for matters appropriate for proactive disclosure. The Communications offices also monitor correspondence from the public and stakeholders for topics of general interest. Web teams monitor websites for sites that receive many views to identify material that might be appropriate for translation into other languages.
  • OIG uses Twitter, YouTube, Podcasts and Widgets to help ensure usability and access to its website.

5. Please describe the best practices used to improve proactive disclosures and any challenges your agency faces in this area.

The HHS FOIA Offices continue to work with requesters to explore new and improved ways to post online information. Some examples of these actions are described below:

  • CMS - Requests for beneficiary records comprises approximately 85% of requests for CMS. Those records contain Personal Identifiable Information (PII) and Personal Health Information (PHI), which is protected information and therefore only provided directly to the requester. Additionally, CMS often receives requests for large data sets related to Medicare claims, healthcare providers, healthcare facilities, etc. Even if the data sets do not necessarily contain beneficiary PII or PHI, they are difficult to post publicly under Section 508 guidelines given the lengthy descriptions of artifacts and tables necessary to interpret the complex data.
  • IHS currently works with IT staff to develop proactive disclosures.
  • NIH - Within the NIH components, various communications, research, and policy individuals monitor their component's activities and research portfolios for matters appropriate for proactive disclosure. The Communications offices also monitor correspondence from the public and stakeholders for topics of general interest. Web teams monitor websites for sites that receive many views to identify material that might be appropriate for translation into other languages.

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