• Text Resize A A A
  • Print Print
  • Share Share on facebook Share on twitter Share

3.2 Transparency Initiatives

Public Involvement in Evidence-based Research (AHRQ)

Over the past few years, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has opened up the process of suggesting, developing, and reviewing the systematic reviews conducted under several of its Evidence-based Research Center (EPC) programs, including reports developed for the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). The Web sites for the USPSTF and other AHRQ programs that systematically review or conduct meta-analyses of existing research studies on a topic now have opportunities for public suggestion of new topics, public input into a topic’s research plan, and public comment on the resulting draft report.  Anyone—including individuals and organizations—can nominate a topic for the USPSTF to consider for evaluation for a future recommendation.

Once a topic is selected for systematic analysis, a small group of USPSTF members, called topic leads, works with researchers from an AHRQ EPC to create a draft Research Plan to guide the systematic review of the evidence. The Research Plan consists of an analytic framework, key questions, and a literature search strategy or research approach. Each draft Research Plan is posted for public comment for 4 weeks. The USPSTF topic leads, with the assistance of the EPC researchers, review all of the comments received, revise the draft plan, and develop a final Research Plan. The final Research Plan is then posted on the USPSTF Web site.

After the systematic review is conducted in line with the final Research Plan, a Draft Report is posted to the Web site for 4 weeks to permit public comment. At the end of that time, the Draft Report is taken down to allow the USPSTF and EPC staff to consider the comments and finalize the report. Since December 2011, the AHRQ-supported USPSTF posted for comment 26 Draft Research Plans; beginning in March 2013, comments were sought on 9 Draft Evidence Reports, while comments on finished Reports began in July 2010.

Back to top.

S3: Science, Safety, and Security Program

The S3: Science, Safety, and Security Program allows the U.S. Government to share policies and best practices relating to biological risk management in an effort to develop collaborative relationships with the life science community and other stakeholders to raise awareness about efforts to promote progress in the life sciences while preventing and deterring its misuse. The S3 Program website (http://www.phe.gov/s3) had been established to provide a single, coordinated portal for scientists, laboratory staff, policy makers, and the public to locate and link to existing Federal and Non-Federal resources on biorisk management.  The website was launched in May of 2010 through interagency collaboration and the support of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The S3 website is hosted by HHS/Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR). Since 2010, the website has been continuously updated with new materials that agencies and departments across the US Government contributed to.  The S3 program also includes the S3 newsletter (an online publication which discusses meetings, government policies and publications, as well as international events relevant to biological research and biorisk management) and the S3 outreach booth (which is used at scientific meetings).

The S3 program is working to create a redesigned website to improve usability, appearance, and the ability to rapidly update materials as needed.  A significantly larger set of materials has been prepared for the website and is currently undergoing interagency review.  The new materials will include a searchable listing of regulatory and safety information on biological agents, launching initially with the Tier 1 Select Agents and Toxins, and eventually expanding to include the full Select Agent list.  In response to stakeholders, the new website will eventually include expanded materials on import and export controls, transportation security, biorisk management, and agricultural biosafety and biosecurity.  

In addition to the expanded explanatory content, the new S3 website will also include the Interactive Learning Center (ILC) as a resource for educators and students in the life sciences.  This section will include interactive learning tools such as trivia challenges and a set of quizzes. The interactive tools set may also expand in the future to include case studies, slide decks, teaching materials, and in-class resources for professors and biosafety officers.  The ILC is a direct response to frequent stakeholder requests for materials to assist in teaching biorisk management and in helping to engage students in independent learning.

The S3 website allows the interagency to work cooperatively in communicating with the public on biosafety and biosecurity efforts across the U.S. Government.  Interagency collaboration and the support received from OSTP had been crucial to the success of the S3 program and will continue to be key aspects of the expansion of S3 efforts.  In the future, the S3 website will evolve in response to stakeholder requests for materials or expanded information and establish itself as a central resource for government policy and general information on biosafety, biosecurity, and handling of biological agents.

Back to top.

Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Appeal Status Information System (AASIS)

Individuals appealing unfavorable decisions regarding the coverage or payment of Medicare claims and other related matters, need timely acknowledgement regarding the receipt of their appeals and definitive contact information should they need to make an inquiry regarding the status of their appeals.  To meet this need, the Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals (OMHA) is developing the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Appeal Status Information System. 

This web hosted solution will meet the following needs of the Appellants by:

  • Verifying that OMHA has received their appeals
  • Facilitating inquiries, including status of in-process appeals
  • Providing contact information for the OMHA hearing office and the ALJ to whom the appeals have been assigned.

Back to top.

Electronic Case Adjudication and Processing Environment, Appellant Public Portal

OMHA needs to move from paper-based case processing to an electronic processing environment because of the exponentially growing workload.   To accomplish this, OMHA has initiated the Electronic Case Adjudication and Processing Environment (ECAPE) project. ECAPE will allow OMHA to work appeals electronically.  The Appellant Public Portal (APP) is one component of ECAPE. 

The APP will be a public facing internet portal, integrated with ECAPE.  The portal will serve as a full two-way communication tool between OMHA and the appellant throughout the adjudication process, and will allow authorized parties to file requests for hearings, submit additional evidence, check appeal status, and view the appeal case file online. The APP will be implemented in two phases:

  • Phase I will allow a guest user (without registration) to file a request for hearing online, check status of an appeal, and upload additional evidence.
  • Phase II targets organizations that frequently file appeals and will allow a registered user to file a request for hearing online, upload additional evidence, check status of appeal, view the case file, access electronic correspondence, and  establish and maintain an appellant profile.

Back to top.

Energizing Data to Better Tell Their Story: data.CDC.gov

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a long track record of regular data releases like those from the surveillance of foodborne and infectious diseases, morbidity and mortality, behavioral risk factors for youth and adults, and more. Each program at CDC has its own procedures and preferred formats for releasing data, from ASCII and SAS-Xport files, to Crystal Reports, Excel files, PDFs, and other formats.  Users must know where and how to find each database, and even then, export options may be limited or not available.

Data can tell the story about what is going on in our communities and around the world, but to be truly useful, it must convey specific actionable messages. It must also be delivered to audiences that need it most, in formats they can understand and easily use.

CDC has launched an open platform that gives data stewards the ability to publish selected data in readily usable, portable, and “energized” formats. End users are able to filter and create visualizations in bar charts, trend lines, and maps and can then embed those visualizations in their own websites and apps.  Hosted on a Socrata platform and powered by an application-programming interface (API), data.CDC.gov helps turn data into a powerful communication tool. The API also frees data to be innovatively visualized in other ways, through powerful tools such as ChartJS and D3, while allowing data stewards to maintain control of the numbers and update them automatically. We are putting data into action and taking it to the public in ways that are easily consumed.

The site was launched in August 2013 and as of the end of April 2014, data.CDC.gov now hosts over 200 live data sets, and counting. CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) is publishing data regularly to the site; the Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System has published prevalence and trends data on tobacco use and healthcare access; and other programs are publishing data on flu vaccination coverage, leading causes of death, and even CDC.gov web and syndication metrics.

Enabling the effective visualization of data and the localization of data helps tell the story in ways that resonate for specific audiences. With data.CDC.gov, CDC can build data widgets that can toggle between national aggregate estimates and state-level estimates. This gives state and local health departments the ability to take federally-produced data and visualizations and customize the views, on-the-fly, for their local area.

CDC is building capacity in state and local health departments by providing free, evidence-based health content for reuse and allowing the federal government to do the maintenance. We will soon give these partners the capacity to localize materials for their audiences, either by combining with additional local messaging or controlled adaptation based on CDC data. Open government and open data also allows our commercial health care stakeholders to take this to the next level by sending our science based health messages and content directly to patients and consumers through electronic health records and personal health records systems, or through health monitoring applications and devices.

Although CDC has been releasing data to the public and sharing syndicated content for years, data.CDC.gov is our first step in the arena on a consolidated, agency-wide level, in a way that enables us to energize data and put it into action not only for ourselves but for our partners and the public. While data.CDC.gov helps us meet the directives of U.S. Government’s Open Data and Open Government Initiatives, the value that data.CDC.gov brings to the public health system is the efficient reuse of quality, evidence-based health messaging, tailored by data, and delivered to the public in easily consumable form.

Back to top.     

Improving Public Access to Scientific Manuscripts through CDC Stacks

CDC Stacks is a free, digital archive of scientific research and literature produced by the CDC. This online archive is composed of curated collections tailored for public health research needs. This repository is retained indefinitely and is available for public health professionals, researchers, as well as the general public, and is accessible at: http://stacks.cdc.gov.

CDC Stacks provides access to current CDC research and literature such as the Open Access Collection. In addition, CDC Stacks offers a historical perspective that was previously not available, such as the first 30 volumes of the MMWR.

As a fully-featured repository, CDC Stacks provides the ability to search the full text of all documents, browse journal articles by public health subjects, and explore the curated collections of documents on relevant topics. Additional collections and ongoing additions to existing collections are planned for the future.

In an effort to further improve the public’s access to CDC generated scientific information, CDC plans to begin posting intramural peer-reviewed manuscripts to the CDC Stacks website within 12 months of publication, at no cost to the public. The goal will be start-up of the system in late summer 2014 with the posting of the approximately 500 documents currently in-queue, and then weekly additions moving forward.

Back to top.

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) Office of Public Health Scientific Services (OPHSS) Informatics Innovation Unit (IIU)  

CDC’s Informatics Innovation Unit (IIU) is a resource for the CDC and the public health community that studies, prototypes, and tests new and innovative technology-based tools and resources to maximize programmatic public health impact. 

IIU engages in applied new research and development projects that support innovative public health uses of IT. To do so, IIU provides information, consultation, and support for new informatics solutions for public health practice; rapidly creates prototype tools and solutions to facilitate the testing of hypotheses; and provides an optimal, flexible, and scalable environment for rapidly developing prototype public health informatics solutions for testing and evaluation.

IIU supports both transparency and collaboration initiatives through many of the services it provides.  IIU follows an open-source philosophy, and uses tools consistent with this.   All of IIUs projects are open and reusable.  CDC makes the programming code and its documentation public available to enable others to modify, repurpose, or improve the tools. IIU provides a flexible physical collaboration for CDC staff, usable for demonstrations, training and software development. 

IIU provides a wide variety of services to overcome barriers which may be present at any of the stages of the “Innovation Lifecycle” – idea, design, prototype, pilot, production, evaluation.  Specifically, it has been involved in developing guidelines, evaluations, and recommendations to CDC & public health community.  IIU has also provided expertise in Human Computer Interaction, visualization, and software design and development

Recently IIU has been focusing on “thorny” innovation challenges, including novel data visualization, big data, mHealth and cloud computing.

More information on the IIU can be found at: http://www.phiresearchlab.org

Back to top.

Health Indicators Warehouse

The Health Indicators Warehouse (HIW) (http://www.healthindicators.gov) provides web services access to a large curated database to foster innovative uses of high value federal data assets.  Public use files are available from across the Department, however often these files are in a format that makes the data inaccessible to most users, the data lacks the necessary metadata to inform potential users, and the data assets are not available from a single source.  The HIW addresses these challenges of current and potential users of federal data assets. 

The demand for high quality pre-tabulated data on health and its determinants has been increasing in recent years.  These data are used to assess community health, target populations health issues, evaluate the efficacy of interventions, track changes in health outcomes, and for many other purposes.  There are hundreds of datasets collected by the Department and other organizations.  Analysts often have to navigate a myriad of websites or contact multiple organizations to obtain needed data.  There is a need to streamline processes of accessing these data.

Launched in February of 2011, HIW provides the public health community, IT developers, and others with an accessible web-based application offering high quality population health data and descriptive metadata from over 1,100 indicators amounting to more than 150 GB of content. Each indicator’s metadata describes the methodology and data source.  Users do not have to navigate across numerous venues to download these data.  The HIW also has an API, which is a source code-based specification for computer-to-computer communication.  The API allows application developers to easily download data directly from HIW and create innovative third party applications.

Back to top.

Network of Patient Safety Databases 

The coming availability of non-identifiable information on patient safety events from the Congressionally mandated[1] Network of Patient Safety Databases (NPSD; funded by AHRQ) of patient safety event data submitted by provider institutions through the AHRQ-managed Patient Safety Organizations, or directly to the NPSD by health care providers, will facilitate the aggregation of sufficient volumes of patient safety event data to identify more rapidly the underlying patterns and causes of risks and hazards associated with the delivery of health care services. The Patient Safety Act directs AHRQ to incorporate the non-identifiable trend data from NPSD in its annual National Healthcare Quality Report. This trend data, as with other quality and disparities data, should be included in the HIW.

Back to top.

Downloadable Provider of Services file 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently posted the Provider of Services file (POS file; http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Downloadable-Public-Use-Files/Provider-of-Services/index.html) on the CMS website. The POS file contains data on characteristics of hospitals and other types of healthcare facilities, including the name and address of the facility and the type of Medicare services the facility provides, among other information. The POS file does not contain any individually identifiable information about beneficiaries. This file is one of the best sources for information on Medicare-enrolled institutional providers. The data is a valuable resource to a variety of stakeholders including researchers and application developers.

This file has previously only been available to the public for a fee. Now, the POS files are being made available as free downloads. The most current four quarters as well as the annual files for each previous year are available on the CMS website for download.

Back to top.

Chronic Condition PUFs and Dashboards

CMS Chronic Conditions Public Use Files and Dashboards (http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/Chronic-Conditions/index.html) provide information on prevalence, utilization, and Medicare spending for specific chronic conditions and multiple chronic conditions. These data can be used to inform policymakers, local health leaders, and health systems about resource utilization of patients with chronic diseases.  The Chronic Condition data are available as tabular geographic data reports, maps, chart books, and interactive dashboards covering 2008 to 2012.  CMS updates these products annually with an additional year of data.

Back to top.

Geographic Variation PUFs and Dashboards

The Medicare Geographic Variation PUF (http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/Medicare-Geographic-Variation/index.html) is a series of downloadable tables and reports that contain demographics, spending, utilization, and quality indicators at the state, HRR, and county-level.  These PUFs enable researchers and policymakers to evaluate geographic variation in the utilization and quality of health care services for the Medicare fee-for-service population.  The GV PUF also contains standardized spending figures, which remove the effects of the geographic adjustments that Medicare makes for its payment rates, allowing comparisons of per capita spending across regions.  CMS has also released GV Dashboards that present per-capita spending using standardized dollars at the state and county level in an interactive format.   CMS updates the PUFs and dashboards annually to include an additional year of data.

Back to top.

Qualified Health Plan Benefit and Pricing Data

CMS provides data on certified medical and dental plans in the Federally-facilitated Marketplace that allows for transparency on premiums, service areas, levels of coverage, benefits, cost-sharing, and links to more plan information. The data allows researchers and consumers insight into the benefit structures of qualified health plans that are offered in the Marketplace. Updated data is posted to HealthCare.gov after the annual Qualified Health Plan certification process.

Back to top.

Marketplace Enrollment Data

HHS releases regular reports on the number of consumers enrolling in qualified health plans through the Health Insurance Marketplaces, including data related to enrollment by age, gender, type of plan, level of coverage, financial assistance, and race/ethnicity. The data is provided for all Marketplaces run or supported by the Federal or State governments. The report is intended to provide information describing any increases in coverage to be used by states, issuers, and consumer advocates. Reports are published throughout annual open enrollment periods.

Back to top.

Medicare Shared Savings Program (Shared Savings Program)

The Shared Savings Program, established by section 1899 of the Social Security Act,  P. L. 74–271, promotes population based care by recognizing and rewarding Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) that lower growth in health care costs while meeting performance standards on quality of care.  Under this new payment and service delivery program, ACOs bring health care providers together in new ways to coordinate and improve the quality of care for patients across settings—including doctor’s offices, hospitals, and post-acute settings.  

CMS has announced interim results for ACOs starting in 2012 and ACOs have completed two quality reporting cycles that includes performance measurement on patient experience of care and other outcome based measures.  Since April 2012, ACOs have been able to request monthly Medicare Part A, B, and D Medicare claims-line feeds that include beneficiary-level claims data, including encounters by service type, procedures, and supplies for beneficiaries seen by their providers.  Currently, CMS is sharing beneficiary-level claims data, where appropriate under applicable law, with over 250 ACOs on over 4 million Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries.  CMS also provides quarterly and annual aggregate utilization and expenditure data feedback reports, including quality performance data directly to ACOs and their participating providers to support their care coordination and quality improvement efforts.

Back to top.

Open Payments (Sunshine Act) National Transparency Program

Also known as the Physician Payment Sunshine Act of 2009 (Sunshine Act), the Open Payments Act is a national transparency initiative intended to provide unprecedented public disclosure of the financial relationships that exist between industry and physicians.  Industry and physician collaboration can be beneficial, promoting the discovery and development of new technologies that improve individual and public health. However, financial ties between medicine and industry may also lead to unintended adverse consequences in other aspects of medicine, such as: clinical practice, clinical and basic research, medical education, standards setting, and medical publications.

While financial ties alone do not signify an inappropriate relationship, Open Payments is necessary to:

  • ensure transparency of reporting financial ties;
  • reveal the nature and extent of relationships;
  • prevent inappropriate influence on research, education, and clinical decision-making;
  • avoid conflicts of interest that can compromise clinical integrity and patient care; and
  • minimize risk of increased health care costs.

CMS will collect from the industry the payments and other transfers of value the industry makes to physicians and teaching hospitals and post it on a public website.  This will be a national resource for beneficiaries, consumers, and providers to better understand relationships between physicians, teaching hospitals, and industry. No such national public database has existed to date.

The public websites which includes CMS, Healthdata.gov and other locations (available on September 30, 2014) will be designed to increase access to and knowledge about these relationships for consumers to make informed decisions.

This program involves an extensive amount of external engagement and collaboration with the program stakeholders. These stakeholders include physicians, teaching hospitals, industry companies such as drug manufacturers, representative organizations, federal and state agencies, congress, researchers, and of course, the public-at-large.  CMS has developed a wide array of outreach tools to ensure that all of the program stakeholders are aware of this new program and safeguard program compliance including the first CMS mobile applications. These mobile apps are designed to help facilitate the tracking of the various payments or other transfers of value as they occur throughout the year. Learn more at: www.go.cms.gov/openpayments.

Back to top.

Improving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Financial Data Collection

The Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF)-196 Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Financial Data Collection Form was designed to monitor expenditures by grant year and ensure compliance with various statutory requirements governing the use of federal funds and state Maintenance-of-Effort (MOE) expenditures.  HHS, Congress, research organizations, and other stakeholders use the data collected to gain an understanding of the types of activities on which states are spending their funds and analyze trends in how states choose to distribute their program funds.  Accurate and complete expenditure data is crucial as it provides the foundation for a well-informed policy analysis.

After consideration of comments received from interested parties, and pending Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval, effective FY 2015, the TANF financial data collection will involve two forms:  the ACF-196R, which states will submit on a quarterly basis, and the ACF-196, which states will use to adjust expenditures submitted during fiscal years (FY) prior to FY 2015.  (Note, after a state expends all funds for grant years prior to FY 2015, it will no longer need to use the ACF-196).  Approval of the ACF-196R would result in two basic changes to TANF quarterly financial reports:  modifying and expanding the list of expenditure categories, and changing the accounting method used to report expenditures and monitor grant awards.

In order to eliminate ambiguity in definitions, create categories and definitions that are mutually exclusive, and gain greater insight into how states spend TANF and MOE funds - without placing an undue reporting burden on states – the Office of Family Assistance (OFA) is proposing to revise the expenditure categories and accompanying definitions used in TANF financial data collection.  We are also adding ACF-196R–Part 2, which will require narrative descriptions of expenditures reported as “Other,” and assistance and non-assistance “Authorized Solely Under Prior Law,” as well as an explanation of the methodology used to estimate expenditures, as appropriate.

The accounting methodology will also be improved, as states will be required to report actual expenditures made in a fiscal year with each open grant year award.  If a state needs to adjust an expenditure reported in a prior year, it will revise the report for the fiscal year in which that expenditure occurred, rather than account for that adjustment in the current year’s report.  Specifically, if a state needs to adjust an expenditure reported in a prior year after FY 2014, it will revise the ACF-196R pertaining to the fiscal year in which that expenditure occurred.  If the adjustment is for an expenditure submitted in a fiscal year prior to FY 2015, the respondent will revise the ACF-196 pertaining to the relevant grant year for expenditures cumulative through FY 2014.  (Because a state will only use the ACF-196 for this purpose, the reporting burden associated with this form will be significantly reduced.)  This methodology facilitates both the monitoring of grants, as well as the ability to obtain accurate fiscal year expenditures to inform TANF policy analyses.

Back to top.

HHS Grants Forecast)

HHS’s Grants Forecast website provides information about planned and potential funding opportunities across HHS OPDIVs discretionary grant programs. Grant opportunity “forecasts” are prospective in nature, and subject to availability of funds, once those funds are made available to the OPDIVs. The website facilitates access for persons interested in applying for HHS grants and is a part of strategic planning in grants administration. The Forecast is structured to mirror the content within Grants.gov and serves as a precursor to it for potential HHS grants applicants, and also contains cardinal elements of the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA).   The system has quick search and advanced search options, in addition to the integration of social networks for the promotion of funding opportunities. In FY2013, 714 potential grant opportunities were posted on HHS Grants Forecast, 505 of those records migrated eventually to Grants.gov as full blown competitive funding opportunities announcement.  85,309 people visited the website in 2013, and there was an unprecedented surge in October 2013 during the government shutdown.   HHS’s Grants Forecast Team continues to focus on ensuring that the full complement of HHS’s planned grant activity data is posted by its OPDIVs to the Grants Forecast; and is teaming with other Department groups to facilitate greater access to Tribes and traditionally underrepresented communities.  The Forecast is a successful grants planning tool that has benefitted from constant dynamic development, frequent adjustments to customers’ needs and feedback, and constant updating of features and website functionality.   The main drivers of the Forecast include Office of Grants Policy Oversight and Evaluation (OGPOE) strategic direction, OPDIV participation and collaboration, IT support from the ACF, and increased public demand for greater transparency of HHS funding opportunities and planned spending.

Back to top.


The Grants.gov (http://www.grants.gov/) program management office is managed by HHS. Grants.gov is an E-Government initiative operating under the governance of OMB. Under the President's Management Agenda, the office was chartered to deliver a system that provides a centralized location for grant seekers to find and apply for federal funding opportunities. Today, the Grants.gov system houses information on over 1,000 grant programs and vets grant applications for 26 federal grant-making agencies, which can be found at http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/applicants/applicant-resources/agencies-providing-grants.html .

Grants.gov provides a centralized “FIND and “APPLY” portal for federal agencies to post discretionary grant opportunity information and for individuals and organizations to apply for these opportunities.  Grants.gov is supported by 26 federal agencies, with HHS as the Managing Partner. In FY2013, on behalf of the Federal grant-making community, the Grants.gov system posted nearly 4,000 funding opportunities, and processed over 257,000 applications.  There were, also, 46,398 new Authorized Organization Representative registrations – an increase of 17.88% over FY2012. Additionally, the system’s “FIND” capability was improved through several releases designed to improve security; search performance; applicant notifications, grantor web services, and updates to technical products such as Oracle, Symantec, and Java.

Grants.gov has implemented changes such as easier navigation, faceted search, and new downloadable form features in response to user requests and internal assessments. The results of our efforts have been met with overwhelming acceptance by users who now enjoy easier access to features and information they need to increase their productivity. The new features have resulted in fewer calls to the Grants.gov call center. The now intuitive site allows users to spend more of their time on the site searching for grants and submitting applications versus reading help content. Now when users conduct a search, more applicable results are returned, ordered by relevance. The website was also given a much needed facelift that was well-received by the Grants community. Grants.gov is much easier to navigate and provides fast and easy access to frequently used functionality and information. Users can now search for grants and website content directly from the home page or conduct a more advanced search on an enhanced and intuitive dedicated search page (http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/search-grants.html). When Applicants download applications or instructions, the file is automatically downloaded to the user’s machine. This seemingly small change improves the usability for inexperienced users as it is now easier for them to save their completed applications while working on it and not risk losing their work. The forms repository page was updated to provide Applicants and Grantors more visibility into upcoming OMB form expiration dates. Users now have more up-to-date information on active and retired forms available to them.

Going forward, Grants.gov enhancements will improve the ability of potential grantees to find opportunities by saving their searches and simplifying the user interface.  Grants.gov will also be adding an easy to use and flexible capability to send and manage Grant opportunity notifications, allowing users to quickly see when new opportunities are available that match their needs. In the near future, applicants will have the ability to download PDF renderings of their submitted applications. Applicants will then see their applications in the same way as the evaluator if the evaluator also uses the PDF generated by Grants.gov. There will be added functionality to help applicants fill out their forms. In addition, applicants will have the ability to export data from a form on one submission to a same form in another submission. Applicants will also be able to pre-populate a new budget year with the budget year-1 data in R&R Budget forms. The template management Web pages will be updated to allow Grantors to view the forms before publishing. The system’s availability and reliability will be improved thru modernization of the system architecture and refresh hardware. By building redundancy in the system, system downtime will be minimized. Grants.gov Program Management Office is partnering with the OMB on the possibility of expanding Grants.gov system and web portal so that the website can be utilized as a single gateway to a wide array of grants-related information.

Back to top.

Tracking Accountability in Government Grants System 

The Tracking Accountability in Government Grants System (TAGGS; http://taggs.hhs.gov/) is a robust reporting tool developed by HHS’s Office of Grants and Acquisition Policy and Accountability (OGAPA). The TAGGS database is a central repository for grants awarded by the eleven HHS OPDIVs. TAGGS tracks obligated grant funds at the transaction level – which means that every time an award is made or modified OPDIVs provide TAGGS with updated financial information related to the total grant award amount. HHS is actively engaged internally and with external stakeholders as part of the government’s collaborative efforts to increase transparency and improve the quality of data posted on the Web while adhering to new Federal requirements. 

HHS is working diligently to improve the public accessibility to meaningful data as exemplified by HHS’s revised TAGGS Annual Report. HHS recently unveiled the department’s new 2012 TAGGS Interactive Annual Report that provides users with multiple views of HHS data through rich visuals, graphics and charts. In previous years the Annual Report was paper based, and the report, even when published on the TAGGS website reflected a paper-based format. The Annual Report now tracks and accounts for HHS spending and provides high quality data to the public and external stakeholders via an interactive display Based on the success of the interactive annual report, HHS will begin updating TAGGS in 2014.  The system was last overhauled in April 2011 to improve navigation, search processing, access to standardized spending reports, accessibility, data accuracy through the implementation of additional data validation checks for internal controls, functionality through the use of analytic tools and usability by providing short videos with How-to tips, and to accommodate legislative requirements associated with the Recovery Act and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The TAGGS Update Project seeks to enhance the user experience through the development of an intuitive, simple, yet innovative design that is easily adaptable to new and existing users. Key enhancements will include: improved search capabilities, shorter path to information, database structural improvements, new style layout, greater use of graphics and explanatory text to facilitate improved public understanding. The goal is to provide a better serviceable tool to the public and internal HHS by enabling greater access to high-quality digital government information. Modifications are focused on improving the user experience, improving accessibility to the information, and the continuous effort to improve the underlying data.  The TAGGS Team has also directed the creation of the internal Data Quality Database Application (DQDA), also known as the “TAGGS Heat Map.” The DQDA tool uses a color coded system to formally capture, monitor, and report on the timeliness, completeness, and accuracy of HHS grant award information. The business intelligence gained through the full implementation of the new website and the DQDA will result in actionable tasks to improve data quality and to further goals and objectives of the broader Open Government Initiative.

Back to top.


USASpending.gov (http://usaspending.gov/) is an online database launched in December 2007 to provide the public with free centralized access to Federal spending information, uphold accountability, and provide transparency of Federal funds. Federal awards reported through USASpending.gov include grants, sub-grants, loans, cooperative agreements, contracts, subcontracts, purchase orders, task orders, and delivery orders as well as other forms of financial assistance.

To further meet the requirements of the Federal Funding Transparency Act (FFATA), HHS has increased efforts to strengthen data quality and reporting to USAspending.gov starting with CMS unreported aggregated direct payments and non-FAR contracts for the CFDA programs totaling over $500 billion dollars.  In February 2014, HHS posted previously unreported FY 2012 Medicare data at the aggregate-level to USASpending.gov and in its ongoing efforts to close data gaps is working closely with CMS to report FY 2013 and FY 2014 data to USAspenind.gov. HHS is also working collaboratively with CMS to automate the data submission process and determine whether the data reported at a highly aggregated level could be reported at a lower level in the future.

On June 12, 2013, OMB issued a memorandum entitled “Improving Data Quality for USASpending.gov”.  The memorandum provides additional guidance and requirements to Federal agencies for ensuring the accuracy and completeness of USAspending.gov prime Federal award financial data, comparing and validating USAspending.gov funding information with data in the agency’s financial system and reporting accuracy rates to OMB. HHS grants, acquisition and financial communities are collaborating to provide reasonable assurance that USASpending.gov is reporting accurate and reliable information via quarterly reconciliation of data provided to USASpending.gov and audited financial data captured in HHS Global Unified Financial Management System.

Back to top.

System Award Management System 

The System for Award Management (SAM; https://www.sam.gov/) is the Official U.S. Government system that consolidated the capabilities of Central Contractor Registration (CCR)/ Federal Agency Registration (FedReg), Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA), and the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS).  SAM and the Integrated Award Environment are governed by the Award Committee for E-Government; and HHS is one of the seven voting members. The governance structure also includes a grants/financial assistance committee, which HHS co-chairs, and an Acquisition committee that includes HHS as a voting member.

Additionally, HHS is a member of the SAM Change Control Board (CCB) and participates fully in its initiatives and new releases, including the plan to fully integrate all nine systems previously managed by GSA into the SAM system. These systems are used at various phases of the life cycle of Grants and Contracts. Business needs of these various user communities dictate how they interact with the systems and whether they are a provider or a consumer of the information.  The six remaining systems that will be integrated over the next five years are the Electronic Subcontracting Reporting System (eSRS)/FFATA Subaward Reporting System (FSRS), Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOps), Wage Determinations Online (WDOL), Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA), Federal Procurement Data System – Next Generation (FPDS-NG), Past Performance Information Retrieval system (PPIRS)/Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS) /Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS).

As active members of the CCB, HHS has provided feedback and input on the General Services Administration’s (GSA) plan of action for the next five years. In addition, HHS has established an internal Change Review Board (CRB) Support Team consisting of those in the grants and acquisition community closest to the requirements. The internal CRB Support Team participates and facilitates the review of all change requests to the CCB by articulating the needs of the Department for incorporation in the overall plan. HHS’ Change Review Board (CRB) and CCB are extremely active with the various GSA-SAM Focus Groups for the rebuild/redesign of the 9 disparate systems within the System for Award Management. The HHS CRB and its agency points of contact actively participate in the user acceptance testing for all change requests prior to implementation into SAM.

Back to top.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (https://www.cfda.gov/) is a tool that provides a full listing of all Federal programs available to State and local governments (including the District of Columbia); federally-recognized Indian tribal governments; Territories (and possessions) of the United States; domestic public, quasi- public, and private profit and nonprofit organizations and institutions; specialized groups; and individuals. HHS uses this tool as a mechanism to check the accuracy and completeness of its reporting. HHS has CFDA coordinators across the Department who participate in maintenance of data in CFDA.gov.

HHS’s Office of Grants Systems Modernization (OGSM) has partnered with OGPOE to assemble a team to track, review, analyze, and recommend policy changes to improve the accuracy and timeliness of data in CFDA.gov. The team examined policy, process and technology to determine how to improve the utilization of the tool. Over the course of four months the team was able to reconcile approximately 850 billion dollars for fiscal year 2012.  HHS also maintains involvement with CFDA.gov initiatives through the establishment of a Change Review Board (CRB) tasked with providing input and feedback with the intent of contributing to CFDA.gov’s improved functionality and capability. The HHS Change Review Board consists of the CFDA Coordinators who are representatives of each OPDIV/STAFFDIV. HHS has incorporated “lessons learned” from this analysis into the government-wide technical strategies supporting SAM and USASpending.gov.

Back to top.

Public Access to Neuroactive & Anticonvulsant Chemical Evaluations (PANAChE) 

The National Institutes of Health (NIH)  is presenting a new online database that contains public and non-confidential chemical structures and biological data for compounds which have been screened for efficacy and toxicity in animal models of epilepsy and related seizure disorders as part of the Anticonvulsant Screening Program (ASP; http://www.ninds.nih.gov/research/asp/index.htm) at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke ( http://www.ninds.nih.gov/ ).  In addition to structural information, visitors to the site will find biological data, with permission from the supplier, for each compound submitted to the ASP for testing.  The availability of this information in a public access database introduces a new phase of a government-sponsored project that began in 1974 in an effort to establish worldwide collaborative relationships among government, academia, and industry focused on the search for therapeutic interventions and cures for the epilepsies and other related disorders.  This international network includes over 460 different suppliers from 30 countries and four continents.  The database currently includes 150 structures.

Back to top.


NIH has taken the lead role in developing STAR METRICS (Science and Technology for America's Reinvestment: Measuring the Effect of Research on Innovation, Competitiveness and Science), a partnership between science agencies and research institutions to explore new ways to document science investments and communicate results to the public. The long-term goal of STAR METRICS is to develop a common empirical infrastructure that will be available to all recipients of federal funding and science agencies. STAR METRICS is led by the NIH, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and OSTP.  The NIH is the host institution for the STAR METRICS consortium which presently consists of the NIH, NSF, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), US Department of Agriculture, and OSTP.

STAR METRICS has two levels of activity. The Level I goal is to describe the scientific workforce supported by federal funding through collaboration with grantee institutions.  Level II is aimed at developing an open data infrastructure and tools to enable the documentation and analysis of the inputs, outputs, and outcomes of federal investments in science.  Level II has begun creating this infrastructure through use of a new tool, Federal RePORTER (http://federalreporter.nih.gov/), which allows agencies government-wide to document their research investments in a standard format that allows for text searching of abstracts across agencies. 

More information about the STAR METRICS initiative can be found at: https://www.starmetrics.nih.gov.

Back to top.

Open Access to Biomedical Research Information

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) continues to maintain and expand PubMed Central® (PMC), a free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature that provides public access to the full-text versions of more than 3 million research articles, including those produced by NIH-funded researchers.  Plans are underway to extend the use of PMC to serve as the repository for publications resulting from research supported by other HHS agencies.  Expansion of ClinicalTrials.gov, which provides open access to clinical trial information, will continue.  ClinicalTrials.gov currently includes some 170,000 registered studies and summary results for more than 13,000 trials.

Back to top.

APIs Encourage Innovation by Information Resource Developers

NLM is a major provider of biomedical research and health information, supporting access to more than 30 terabytes of data by more than 3 million users each day.  To extend access to these resources even more broadly and to support further innovation by developers, NLM provides an API to many of their information services.  An API is a set of routines that an application uses to request and carry out lower-level services performed by a computer's operating system.  The API provides the means by which external developers can develop novel computer and mobile applications using NLM resources.  Supported NLM APIs are listed on an API website (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/api/), along with information about any additional terms and conditions of use.

Back to top.

Pillbox: A Pharmaceutical Identification and Reference System 

NLM’S PillBox (pillbox.nlm.nih.gov) service makes available more than 5,000 high quality images of solid oral dosage medications, or pills, drawn from multiple NLM and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) programs.  Designed to make government drug labeling data accessible and usable for health IT developers, clinicians, and the public, Pillbox provides information about a pill’s appearance, including: color, size, shape, imprint, and score, as well as its brand/generic name, ingredients, and the National Drug File identification number.  Researchers and product developers may obtain the images and accompanying metadata via an applications programming interface (API) at http://RxImage.nlm.nih.gov.  Pillbox's API, data, and images are powerful tools for drug identification and reference, offering exciting opportunities to build medication-related applications and services.  This project is the result of collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), the VA Medication Image Library (MIL) program, and pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Back to top.

Clinical Vocabulary Standards for Electronic Health Records

In close collaboration with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), NLM provides ongoing funding for the clinical terminologies designated as U.S. standards for meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs) and health information exchange.  NLM’s support allows these standards to be updated regularly to reflect new drugs, tests, and changes in biomedical knowledge and health practice — and also allows them to be used free-of-charge in U.S. systems that support health care, public health, and biomedical research.  NLM produces and maintains a growing number of convenient vocabulary subsets to help EHR developers and users transition to use vocabulary standards, including subsets of frequently encountered patient problems, frequently ordered tests, and medications currently available in the U.S. market.  The Value Set Authority Center, released in collaboration with ONC, CMS, the HHS Office of the Secretary, and others, provides authoritative access to the standard vocabulary components of clinical quality measures.  The inclusion of standard terminology in EHRs enables more effective clinical decision support by making it easier to link information in a patient’s record to the knowledge relevant to that record.

Back to top.

Toxicology in the 21st Century (Tox21) Program

The Toxicology in the 21st Century (Tox21) program is aimed at developing better toxicity assessment methods. The goal is to quickly and efficiently test whether certain chemical compounds have the potential to disrupt processes in the human body that may lead to adverse health effects. The quantitative high-throughput screening (qHTS) robotic system, developed at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), increases the rate at which chemicals are tested, and profiles compounds over a wide range of concentrations. These qualities make qHTS technology ideal for toxicology testing, with the potential for advancing the goal of more accurate and timely public health decisions.

Toxicological evaluation of chemicals is poised to take advantage of the on-going revolution in biology and biotechnology. This revolution is making it increasingly possible to study the effects of chemicals using cells, cellular components, and tissues — preferably of human origin — rather than whole animals.

The completed first phase of Tox21 used NCATS’ qHTS robotic system to test 2800 compounds in more than 50 assays. The resulting data are published in public databases, such as the National Library of Medicine’s PubChem, the US Environmental Protection Agency’s ToxCast and Aggregated Computation Toxicology Resource, or National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ Chemical Effects in Biological Systems. All screening data also have been made available by NCATS on the freely-accessible PubChem database: to date, more than 50 million data points have been uploaded to public databases.

The second phase of this project will test a collection of 10,000 compounds at NCATS. Consortium partners have and will continue to develop a range of secondary and tertiary follow-up assays to further define and characterize activities identified in initial high-throughput screens. All testing results are made public through the NIH and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chemical toxicity databases and as new data sets arise, the NIH will continue to make them available to the research community. 

In addition, NCATS has created a Tox21 chemical inventory browser, which is freely available and provides researchers with additional information about the chemicals.

Back to top.

BioAssay Research Database (BARD)

BARD is a chemical biology database that provides well-organized and fully annotated bioassay data generated by the NIH Molecular Libraries Program (MLP). The data has been generated by hundreds of biologists, chemists, informaticians, and engineers that run high throughput screens against a common chemical library of over 350,000 compounds across several hundred biological targets and pathways.  The focus on the biological systems has been on unprecedented targets that have been neglected by the pharmaceutical industry.

Drug discovery scientists working on rare or neglected diseases can search for potential therapeutic leads for further pre-clinical development.  The scientists can query specific biological targets and find compounds with desirable properties that modulate the target.  These compounds can be further optimized into drug leads through medicinal chemistry optimization.

BARD currently hosts data for more than 350,000 compounds, 4,000 bioassays and over 300 chemical biology or early stage therapeutic development projects. It has been in beta status and will be going into live production status in mid-2014. The data are accompanied by a user-friendly Web-based interface that enables simple searching abilities across diverse chemical biology data.

Back to top.

Publicly Available Databases for Aging-Related Secondary Analyses in the Behavioral and Social Sciences

The Division of Behavioral and Social Research, Publicly Available Databases for Aging-Related Secondary Analyses in the Behavioral and Social Sciences website (http://www.nia.nih.gov/research/dbsr/publicly-available-databases-aging-related-secondary-analyses-behavioral-and-social) snapshots of selected publicly available data collections supported in whole or in part by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) Division of Behavioral and Social Research to promote understanding of aging populations both domestically and throughout the world.  NIA encourages its researchers to develop efficient and feasible data sharing plans, to reinforce open scientific inquiry, and to promote the testing of new or alternative hypotheses and methods of analysis. This compendium is intended to serve as a useful first step in a researcher’s search for a potentially suitable dataset to address a particular question or questions of interest.  Links to relevant study websites are included for those seeking additional information.

Back to top.

Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation US Social & Behavioral Insights Team (ISBT)

The Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation is pleased to announce that the US Social & Behavioral Insights Team (SBST), who presented at that meeting, is soliciting proposals for collaboration for the 2014-2015 year.

The SBST works with agencies to embed behavioral insights into the design and delivery of federal programs and to rigorously evaluate their effectiveness. Such interventions can often be implemented quickly and at low cost, yet still have meaningful effects. For example, merely adding a blank space to a flu vaccine mailer where recipients can write down when and where they plan to get vaccinated has been shown to significantly increase uptake.

Back to top.

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) houses the National Center for Health Workforce Analysis in the Bureau of Health Workforce (BHW) 

The National Center for Health Workforce Analysis (the National Center) informs public and private sector decision-making related to the health workforce by expanding and improving health workforce data, disseminating workforce data to the public, improving and updating projections of the supply and demand for health workers, and conducting analyses of issues important to the health workforce.

This spring, the National Center released the findings of the 2012 National Sample Survey of Nurse Practitioners which provides accurate national estimates of the Nurse Practitioner (NP) workforce along a number of dimensions including aspects of education, certification, and practice of NPs.  In the fall of 2013, the following two reports were released; “Projecting the Supply and Demand for Primary Care Practitioners Through 2020,” and “The U.S. Health Workforce Chartbook.” To access the National Center reports visit the website at http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/healthworkforce/.

Back to top.

Flu Mapping Tool

The National Vaccine Program Office (NVPO), in partnership with CMS, created this mapping tool as a resource for researchers, providers, and health care workers to track influenza (flu) vaccination claims rates of Medicare beneficiaries in real-time.[2] The new tool includes information for every community in the United States.

By clicking on any state or searching for a specific location, the tool generates the number of Medicare beneficiaries living in a specific area and indicates the flu vaccination claims rates.[3] The tool also retrieves flu vaccination claims data for specific racial or ethnic populations within a state or community and shows if there are differences by race in the flu vaccination claims rate. Finally, data for disabled Americans under age 65 and covered by Medicare Fee-for-Service can also be seen.

The mapping tool shows claims data only for those covered by Medicare Fee-for-Service. This includes more than two-thirds of Americans aged 65 and over, as well as disabled Americans under age 65, but this information may not be representative of other groups. This tool should be used to compare relative vaccination rates between different locations, populations and different weeks, months and years. Some flu vaccines given may not be recorded in the claims database due to administration at alternative sites or lags in claims submission and, as a result, the vaccination rates shown here may be an underrepresentation of actual coverage rates.

By tracking Medicare Fee-for-Service claims, updated every week, the tool provides up-to-date flu vaccination claims information for Medicare beneficiaries in every community in the United States. While these data don't convey data for all populations in a given locality, it does provide an excellent snapshot of vaccination coverage for the group at greatest risk for complications - those over the age of 65. The map also displays flu vaccination claims data for specific racial or ethnic populations within a state or community, thereby demonstrating if there are disparities in the flu vaccination claims rate.

Back to top.

HealthMap Vaccine Finder

The HealthMap Vaccine Finder is a free online service that helps consumers locate vaccine providers (e.g., pharmacies and health clinics). By entering an address or zip code, an individual can easily find nearby providers of recommended adult vaccinations. This tool previously only included flu vaccine providers (and was called the Flu Vaccine Finder) and has now expanded to include all vaccines that doctors routinely recommend for adults.  The HealthMap Vaccine Finder is an expansion of the Flu Vaccine Finder, and lists more than 50,000 providers across the country that offer flu vaccinations, searchable by vaccine delivery type (nasal spray, shot, etc.) and location.  The use of the website is free to consumers as well as to providers of adult immunization services.   Adult providers who want to increase information to the public about vaccine services available in their practice can upload their information about which vaccines they offer at their location.

Back to top.

Adjudication Manual

OMHA will issue a manual for OMHA staff containing the day-to-day operating procedures for processing cases, which will also be placed on the OMHA website so the public has access to the manual.  The adjudication manual will adopt the most effective and efficient case processing practices, while ensuring a high quality product and adherence with all legal requirements.

It is anticipated that the manual will increase consistency across adjudicators while preserving adjudicator discretion to address the unique circumstances of a case.  The manual will also provide a framework to move from a paper-based to a fully electronic adjudication process, which will further increase access and transparency to the administrative appeals process through features such as online access to real-time case status information and the administrative record.

Back to top.

Medicaid & CHIP Monthly Applications, Eligibility Determinations, and Enrollment Report

Beginning in November 2013, CMS began issuing a series of monthly reports on state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) data, which represents state Medicaid and CHIP agencies’ eligibility activity for the calendar month. These reports include state data and analysis regarding applications to Medicaid and CHIP agencies and the State Based Marketplaces (SBMs), eligibility determinations made by the Medicaid and CHIP agencies, and state data on total enrollment in the Medicaid and CHIP programs.

The Affordable Care Act,  P.L. 111-148, created a “no wrong door” approach, which means that individuals can apply for health coverage through the Marketplace or the Medicaid or CHIP agency (if it is a separate agency) in their state. Regardless of which “door” they choose, individuals can get eligibility determinations for all types of health coverage, including financial assistance to help pay for coverage, and have their accounts routed to the program for which they are eligible. This means that for a full picture of Medicaid and CHIP activity, the numbers in these reports—which come from the state level—need to be understood in concert with the numbers reported on Health Insurance Marketplace enrollment.

The data included in these reports are submitted to CMS from state Medicaid and CHIP agencies as part of the Medicaid and CHIP Performance Indicator process and supplement data on Marketplace activity released by the HHS. Through the Medicaid and CHIP Performance Indicator process, states report on a common set of indicators designed to provide information to support program management and policy-making. State Medicaid and CHIP programs submit data to CMS on a range of indicators related to application, eligibility and enrollment processes.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia (“states” hereafter) are in the process of implementing the ACA simplifications to the Medicaid and CHIP application and eligibility determination processes and making technology upgrades to transition to streamlined, data-driven eligibility determination systems. As states shift to these new eligibility and enrollment systems, we will continue to see improvements in reporting capacity.

Back to top.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Virtual Research Data Center (VRDC)

In November 2013, CMS launched the Virtual Research Data Center (VRDC), a new mechanism for researchers to access CMS data. CMS VRDC (http://www.resdac.org/cms-data/request/cms-virtual-research-data-center) is a virtual research environment that provides timelier access to Medicare and Medicaid program data in a more efficient and cost effective manner. Researchers working in CMS VRDC will have direct access to approved data files from their own workstations and be able to conduct their analysis within CMS secure environment. They will also have the ability to download aggregated reports and results to their own personal workstation.

Historically, CMS has fulfilled researchers’ data requests by preparing and shipping encrypted data files. However, given the rapidly growing demand for Medicare and Medicaid data, the agency wanted to build a less resource-intensive means of responding to data requests from researchers. The VRDC will help CMS meet these demands while also ensuring data privacy and security and reducing the cost of data access for most users.

Back to top.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research (CDC WONDER) Informatics Program

CDC’s Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research (CDC WONDER) Informatics Program supports public access to online databases, reports, references, and links to external data systems containing a wide range of highly valuable public health information.  The core of CDC WONDER is a query engine that allows ad hoc queries to over 350GB of online databases.  Custom queries can more specifically support a user's needs as opposed to static published reports. More information on the CDC WONDER can be found at: http://wonder.cdc.gov/.

CDC WONDER supports collaboration initiative through engaging in activities across government agencies and with nonprofit organizations. For example, CDC WONDER collaborates on providing statistical analysis and public access to data from data stewards in organizations across the CDC and external partners which include: state health departments, local cancer registries, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. CDC WONDER also collaborates with external partners by sharing source code so partners can build and host their own online databases.

CDC WONDER supports transparency initiatives by providing powerful access to public health data which can be used by the public for purposes such as data based policy decision making processes, media or agency reporting, academic research, general curiosity, etc.  Public users successfully query a diverse collection of datasets, from a range of sources, which can all be found in one location, and are all accessed through a standard, simple, yet powerful interface, which is configurable to the needs of each dataset.  One of the most important features of CDC WONDER is that it can make more granular level data available to the public that can be made available through other means, such as file downloads, which are restricted to more summarized levels of data due to privacy safeguards. CDC WONDER can provide privacy safeguards by applying, to the results of a user's ad hoc queries, real time suppressions which conform to the data provider’s confidentiality agreements and restrictions.

CDC WONDER supports smart disclosure initiative by providing data to consumers via a standard interface to multiple and varying datasets and its capability to make data available to consumers in real time.  The public health data available through CDC WONDER allows the consumers to make better informed personal or public policy decisions.

CDC WONDER continues to add new types of public health data as well as recent years of data to existing datasets.

Back to top.

[1] In the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005, also known as The Patient Safety Act.
[2] Claims are defined as requests for reimbursement submitted to CMS by health care providers.
[3] The claims rate is the number of flu vaccine claims relative to the number of beneficiaries.


Content created by Immediate Office of the Secretary (IOS)
Content last reviewed on January 2, 2015