HHS will create a new interagency task force to improve and coordinate how the government implements health information technology. In a memo to 6 federal agencies (http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/assets/memoranda_2010/m10-10.pdf), HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius and HHS director Peter Orszag write that this new task force will replace the existing health IT interagency group. “This legacy structure is not a good fit for the new environment” that includes the ONC, two FACA's, and “increased congressional engagement, and attention from a diverse body of interests in the private and public sectors,” the memo stated. The task force will include the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense and Veterans Affairs, and the Social Security Administration, the Office of Personnel Management and the federal chief information officer and federal chief technology officer.
"The purpose of the HIT Task Force will be to assist with policy development, coordination and implementation of Federal HIT activities, as well as to improve transparency of federal government activities related to HIT and communication among federal agencies as they execute federal HIT policy," says the memo.
"The HIT Task Force would also have several working groups defined at the first meeting to address a variety of HIT issue areas in more detail. These areas would focus on subjects where coordination among the agencies is essential to policy implementation... It is anticipated that the working groups would be open to individuals from all Federal agencies, giving them the opportunity to participate in these groups."
The memo says the purpose of limiting the task force to the eight agencies is that they want to "provide a forum for the key agencies who are the primary producers, consumers, and implementers of HIT in the federal government, while opening up the working groups to all federal agencies allows for a broad participation across the government on specific HIT issues. We believe it imperative that policy and technical representation be integrated in these communities, so that the efforts of both can be fully informed and coordinated."
Agencies must designate a senior leader to serve on the interagency task force by Feb. 26. I will post more information on this group as it becomes available.