The agency details its plans to enhance transparency, public collaboration.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a progress report on June 27, 2011 detailing efforts to implement its Open Government Plan published last year. The plan was created in response to a memo released by the Obama administration in December 2009 as part of the White House’s ongoing Open Government Initiative.
Consistent with the goals of the Initiative, the HHS plan focuses on increasing agency transparency, data-sharing, and collaboration with the public. One theme in the report is the use of technology such as text messaging and social media to provide greater access to information and to foster innovation. For example, HHS launched HealthCare.gov, which draws on many data sets to provide users with personalized information about their health insurance options based on a short survey. The site has an accompanying Facebook page, Twitter account, YouTube channel, and blog with an RSS feed.
The agency is also a major contributor to Challenge.gov, a site that offers open challenge competitions to the general public. To date, HHS has created 21 challenges for the site, more than any other agency. Several of these challenges focus on creating tools and applications to organize and search through data published by HHS.
HHS comprises several other agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The progress report outlines achievements from these specific agencies in meeting the goals of the Open Government Plan. For example, the FDA and CDC jointly created a content syndication project which will provide users with an easy way to add free, accurate, automatically-updated health information to their websites.
HHS encourages the public to make comments on both its Open Government Plan and its recent progress report at www.hhs.gov/open/. The site also features a “Get Involved Database” which lists opportunities to provide feedback on specific topics to HHS agencies.