1. Overview of Progress from Version 2.0 of the HHS Open Government Plan
In 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS/Department) released its second version of the Open Government Plan, which incorporated nearly 70 projects and activities focused on transparency, collaboration, and participation. In that plan, we also incorporated a new effort in “smart disclosure” and new initiatives were presented as opportunities to participate in open government programs. Since then, we continue to follow the course of these initiatives and have made important contributions and progress toward the goals set forth in the plan.
For that plan, we also implemented several cross-cutting flagship initiatives. Through the HHS Innovation Fellows Program, which is now identified as the HHS Entrepreneurs Program, HHS is able to address difficult and complex projects that require highly specialized expertise from non-governmental talent pools. A national talent search is conducted to identify the best talent to come on board the government and join a team. Each year, we identify five to seven projects, and from the search, we choose up to 10 “external” entrepreneurs to join the federal workspace. Now in its third year, the program has been very successful in recruiting highly qualified talent, shaping project design, and bringing in innovative project management methods, such as lean and agile development methods into government. More can be learned about this entrepreneurs program at http://www.hhs.gov/idealab/pathways/hhs-entrepreneurs/. In addition, HHS has now fostered similar principles in recruiting new talent to critical problems but does so in partnership with non-governmental organizations in the HHS Innovator-in-residence program. More information about this can be found at http://www.hhs.gov/idealab/pathways/innovator-in-residence/.
Over the last two years, massive expansion of the data transparency effort has taken place throughout most all of the HHS agencies. Technology enhancements to enable better use of the data, promotion of machine-to-machine interactions that provide better quality services to the public, and an underscoring of the roles of agencies in achieving modern information age services have taken hold throughout the HHS Operating and Staff divisions (OPDIVs and STAFFDIVs, respectively). Over the last two years, there have been major investments of resources and talent from HHS programs in developing infrastructure, staff, and program management to address “big data” efforts. Further progress was achieved in understanding better uses of information, such as through behavioral insights and user design principles, to build better tools and services to serve the public. The efforts over the last two years have transitioned from the initial efforts of data liberation toward enhanced usability and improvements in health and health care. HHS has established several administrative structures to focus on data quality and usability. These efforts have brought increased user input into the design of healthdata.gov and other information resources that support the broad communities of data users. Across HHS there has been an intense effort to use data within programs, promote innovations through challenge competitions, and place greater emphasis on project designs to use metrics and data reporting as a means to make more informed decisions along the project life cycle.
Another flagship initiative was focused on new collaboration to promote medical products innovation. There have been many advances in the research areas that are rapidly accelerating the transfer of scientific knowledge into medical practice. The engagement of patients and consumers has been a strong point across the continuum of product development. The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI, http://www.pcori.org) provides innovative programs for patient engagement in research, new models for data sharing, and advances in the use of information and communication technologies to facilitate new product development. The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences has launched a wide array of programs and initiatives to facilitate new product development and establish new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to rare diseases. New regulatory systems, advisory methods, and strategies have been put in place to enhance the benefits and safety of health information products. The Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act was also recently enacted. A wide spectrum of efforts are underway to engage experts from many sectors and the public to address administrative health IT functions, health management health IT functions, and medical device health IT functions. The work is ongoing but has had a wide array of input using innovative strategies for public comment and stakeholder engagement. These are a few of the wide ranging and innovative activities that were conducted over the last two years to accelerate improvements in health and the engagement of the public in their development.