The ONC Commitment to Transparency

Dr. David Blumenthal | December 23, 2009

As we work to encourage the meaningful use of health information technology, we want to hear what you have to say. That’s why we started this blog and it’s why we have worked so hard to ensure our process for moving forward is open and transparent. Today, I want to address another step we’re taking to bring more Americans into the conversation about health IT.

The Recovery Act called for the creation of two new committees — the HIT Policy Committee and the HIT Standards Committee. Created in May, 2009, and operating under the Federal Advisory Committee Act rules and regulations (, the meetings and deliberations are open to the public. To date seven HIT Policy Committee meetings and eight Standards Committee Meetings have been held. Each committee has heard testimony from the public.

These committees have a lot on their plate, and from the outset, we knew that in order to accomplish the scope of work set forth by each committee in a timely manner and be responsive to legislation, workgroups would need to be created. These workgroups bring together a diverse set of subject matter experts and key stakeholders to do research, deliberate and make recommendations to the committees. The workgroups don’t prepare final recommendations for the government. To date, 10 workgroups have been created and we’ve held public workgroup hearings on Certification, Electronic Exchange of Laboratory Data and Adoption.

The FACA rules allow workgroup meetings to be closed to the public and the findings from these workgroups are always reported in the full committees, but we want to do more to bring you into the conversation. Beginning January 1, we’ll implement a new policy that will open up workgroup meetings to the public unless a closed meeting is clearly in the public interest.  The decision to close a meeting will be done on a case by case basis at the written request of the workgroup chair(s) reflecting a majority vote by the membership to hold a closed hearing and a justification to do so. Our goal is to make every meeting open, but if a meeting is closed, we’ll report the findings from the meeting on our website and any findings from the meeting will also be reported to the full committee – where anyone can listen to and comment on what the workgroup has to say.

I am committed to open and transparent discussion of issues critical to achieving ONC’s goals of promoting adoption and meaningful use of health information technology. We created HealthIT BUZZ to listen to the American people and we welcome your thoughts about this new policy and the important work being done by these committees.