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Freedom of Information Act Office

IC Directors' Meeting Highlights

January 22, 2009

To: IC Directors
From: Gretchen Wood
Subject: IC Directors’ Meeting Highlights – January 22, 2009, Shannon Building, Wilson Hall

Steering Committee Working Group Evaluation — Dr. Richard Hodes, Director, NIA

Dr. Hodes gave a brief overview of the methodology and overall findings of the evaluation, noting that the data collected was the result of 19 meetings with co-chairs, the working group (WG) members, members of legacy committees (Chief Information Officers, Executive Officers, Scientific Directors, and the EPMC), IC Directors, the NIH Director and NIH Deputy Director. Overall, those interviewed concurred that the governance structure is an improvement over previous process, but that it will need continuous monitoring and improvement.

A major recommendation of the evaluation was that there is a need for better communication and coordination of activities between the WGs. To help facilitate this, it was suggested that a locus be established within the Office of the Director to assist with governance by tracking issues and coordinating inter-related activities across the WGs. The evaluation also proposed the need for a new WG for Administrative and Human Capital Issues with a restructuring of the MBWG into a Budget Work Group. It was also recommended that the OPASI work group be sunset, and Dr. Hodes noted that with the establishment of DPCPSI, the OPASI work group has already been phased out.

Additional recommendations made by the evaluation group included:

  • Development of a comprehensive communication program.
  • Having co-chairs identify all legacy committees and develop a plan for integrating them or proposing a sunset date.
  • Establishing a locus within OD to coordinate and facilitate activities of the WGs.
  • Asking WG co-chairs to regularly provide a short report at SC meetings updating members on issues under consideration and those issues that have been resolved.
  • Having the WG staff provide advance copies of their agendas to the IC Directors indicating whether the agenda items listed are for information, for discussion, or for action.
  • Establishing a new WG to govern Administrative and Human Capital issues, redefining the scope of the MBWG into a Budget WG.
  • Asking WGs to consider amending charters and WG composition to assure broader representation.

Work Group-specific recommendations were also noted.

Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, Director, (NHLBI) Co-Chair of the MBWG, discussed the recommendation to establish a new WG for Administrative and Human Capital issues. The MBWG's activities have over time, become focused on the Central Services Budget, however, the group felt that it did have the capacity to address administrative and human capital issues. As a result, the MBWG co-chairs have asked the Steering Committee to allow them to propose an alternative structure for addressing these issues. At the January 8, 2009 Steering Committee meeting, MBWG co-chairs solicited administrative and human resources concerns from the committee and a proposal will be addressed with the Steering Committee at an upcoming meeting.

Dr. Tabak noted that follow-up actions have taken place since the evaluation of the Steering Committee WGs was presented to the Steering Committee on December 4. Steering Committee staff is working with Justin Hentges (NIDCR)and CIT staff to explore expansion of the existing Steering Committee Sharepoint intranet site to facilitate issue tracking and enhanced communication of WG activities. WG staff will be asked for their input on site development throughout the process.

Two activities currently being explored are creation of a common WG agenda and WG summary template, the data from which will eventually be downloaded into a database for tracking and searching. Currently, most of the WGs have now conformed to the recommendation that they provide meeting agendas in advance to all IC Directors.

Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tool (RePORT)—Dr. Sally Rockey, Acting Deputy Director, OER, and Dr. James Onken, OER

Dr. Rockey began the presentation with an overview of RePORT, noting that this new tool serves as a central point of access for reports, data, and analyses of NIH research activities. Also available are links to the NIH Data Book, the Biennial Report of the Director and NIH Category Spending (the Research, Conditions, and Disease Categorization). In Spring 2009, the RePORT Expenditures and Results (RePORTER) site will replace CRISP, but still retains all of its search capabilities.

Dr. Rockey explained that under the NIH Reform Act of 2006 Congress mandated that an electronic system be established to uniformly code research grants and activities of the OD and the ICs. This system is to be searchable by a variety of factors and would provide additional information on relevant literature and patents, if applicable.

Dr. Onken then proceeded with an online demonstration of RePORT. A user can conduct a search by using a variety of filters such as by IC, topic, and year. A tab containing "Frequently Requested Reports" contains reports that are pre-filtered and can include additional information such as total funding, number of awards, the average size of the award, and the success rate.

Dr. Onken explained that future enhancements being considered are customizable reports, IC-specific Data Books and RePORT pages, and the integration of RePORTER with external databases. Dr. Onken also noted that there is a tutorial available on the site as well as a tab for FAQs.

The RePORT presentation was well received and a lively discussion ensued with many thoughtful suggestions from the IC Directors.

Introduction of Dr. Linda Birnbaum, Director, NIEHS

Dr. Kington introduced Dr. Linda Birnbaum who is the new Director of NIEHS. Dr. Birnbaum is a toxicologist who joins NIH from the EPA where she has worked since 1989. Prior to her service at the EPA, Dr. Birnbaum served for ten years with the National Toxicology Program at NIEHS.

This page last reviewed on May 29, 2012

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