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Freedom of Information Act Office

IC Directors' Meeting Highlights

May 2, 2007

To: IC Directors
From: Kerry Brink, Assistant to the Deputy Director, NIH
Subject: IC Directors' Meeting Highlights — February 22, 2007

Discussion Items

I. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Survey of Employees

Ms. Colleen Barros introduced the NIH Summary Analysis of the 2006 Federal Human Capital Survey (FHCS). The Survey, conducted biennially by OPM for all federal agencies, measures employee perceptions about working conditions. All ICs have received their respective sections of the Survey. Ms. Barros explained that while the Survey does not provide qualitative information determining rationale for responses, it is a tool for OPM to assess individual agency progress toward green status on Strategic Management of Human Capital under the Presidentís Management Agenda.

Ms. Chris Major presented findings of the seven general indicators including: Personal Work Experiences; Recruitment, Development and Retention; Learning (Knowledge Management); Performance Culture; Leadership; Job Satisfaction; and Satisfaction with Benefits. A total of 4,800 NIH employees (27 percent of NIH workforce) responded. Overall, NIH results showed significantly higher positive responses for all seven indicators compared to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and government-wide results.

IC Directors questioned whether the Survey results reflected benchmarking of how NIH is doing. Ms. Barros stressed that a more rigorous measuring process would be necessary to truly benchmark NIH and that the OPM Survey is useful to those Operating Divisions (OPDIVs) showing large disparities to address areas in human capital planning that need improving.

II. Trans-NIH Biomedical Informatics Coordinating Committee

Dr. Zerhouni announced he is establishing a Trans-NIH Biomedical Informatics Coordinating Committee and has appointed Dr. Lindberg, Director of the National Library of Medicine, to chair the Committee. The Committee, subsuming the existing Roadmap Committee on Informatics, will serve as a forum to gather data and inventories of the numerous informatics programs, projects, and plans within NIH and other federal agencies. With this knowledge, the Committee can provide informed NIH representation in discussions concerning standards and terminologies at DHHS and with other agencies, especially concerning improvements in health care and health research. Dr. Zerhouni stressed that success of a national health information system hinges on smart policies for informatics, rigorous data bases and a proactive strategy at NIH. He expects the Committee to facilitate formulation of NIH positions on key issues, as well as, strategic aspects of what gets captured in health care standards and terminologies.

The Committee will work on a 24-month Charter, and report to the IC Directors and Offices on recommendations. Dr. Lindberg will appoint one or two co-chairs. All ICs and Offices with informatics activities or interests are requested to nominate motivated, skilled and committed individuals to this Committee. Dr. Lindberg encouraged nominations to represent a broad spectrum of technical, managerial and scientific expertise.

IC Directors welcomed the format of sharing ideas in determining the interoperability of future planning in health care and research. They supported NIHís leadership role and high visibility in health care information systems.

III. Laptop Encryption

Dr. Jones presented the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) laptop encryption mandates. After the stolen VA laptop computer and other incidents, OMB mandated that all data (unless determined to be non-sensitive by the agency Deputy Secretary) on mobile computers and other portable devices be encrypted. Information is considered sensitive if the loss of confidentiality, integrity or availability is expected to have a serious, severe or catastrophic adverse effect on organizational operations, organizational assets or individuals. DHHS has standardized its encryption process and expanded encryption requirements to all laptops.

Inspector General audits are expected to begin shortly and will focus on OMB compliance and protection of sensitive information on laptops. In the future itís expected that DHHS will also require encryption of data at rest (on servers and other computers, not just portable systems). If compliance is not technically possible or not feasible to support the mission or business function, system owners can obtain a waiver. Written authorization from NIH and concurrence from DHHS is required, the main focus being whether data is considered non-sensitive.

Currently, NIH is in the process of complying with laptop encryption requirements. Dr. Jones expects minimal impact on performance, as login will remain unchanged, forgotten passwords will be handled the same way as they are now, and boot-up process delays will be minor. Non-sensitive data copied to USB drives or removable disks is not part of the current initiative, but given that encryption of portable media is part of the OMB mandate, this may be required in the future.

IV. Open Announcements

IC Directors commended Dr. Zerhouniís honest and candid remarks in support of opening stem cell lines during his testimony at the Senate Appropriations hearing. Dr. Volkow announced NIDAís partnership with HBO in the 15-episode documentary on addiction. IC Directors supported this collaboration effort and encouraged media partnerships when advantageous as a story to tell from individual patients to the research objective.

Kerry Brink
cc: OD Staff
This page last reviewed on January 11, 2011

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