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Freedom of Information Act Office

IC Directors' Meeting Highlights

April 9, 2009

To: IC Directors
From: Ann Brewer, Director, Executive Secretariat
Subject: IC Directors Meeting Highlights—April 9, 2009

Discussion Items

ARRA Updates

John Bartrum and Dr. Marin Allen described the procedure for the release of the first cycle and subsequent cycles of ARRA funding. They noted that no notice of a grant award can go out until the NIH receives feedback from the Office of the Secretary.

2009 Briefing on the State of EEO at the NIH as Required by MD-715 — Mr. Lawrence Self

Mr. Self started the discussion with sharing the NIH Fiscal Year 2009 MD-715 recruitment focus areas and these include:

  • Black tenured and tenure-track scientists
  • American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN) tenure-track scientists
  • Hispanic employees (including retention)
  • Individuals with disabilities
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (PI) branch and lab chiefs

Progress is being made in all of these areas, such as the hiring of 50 Hispanic employees and 96 individuals with disabilities. Mr. Self then presented graphs comparing percentages of White, Black, Hispanic, Asian/PI, and AI/AN in the tenured and tenure track scientists, the total NIH workforce, disability status, and Scientific Director workforce.

For FY 2009, NIH is focusing on the following activities:

  • Convening a series of focus groups to gather information on perceptions and reasons for low participation rates in the focus areas
  • Holding a summit sponsored by OEODM and HR
  • Re-surveying the workforce regarding Race National Origin and Disability Status
  • Tracking reasonable accommodation

Mr. Self also encouraged all ICs to become involved in the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) for College Students with Disabilities. He reported the NIH has led the Department in hiring WRP students for the past four years. OEODM IC Specialists will prescreen students from the WRP Web site and refer the most qualified students based on each IC’s identified summer needs.

Beyond Health Care: New Directions to a Healthier America — Recommendations from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America — Dr. Mark McClellan Dr. McClellan began by describing the Brookings Institute’s Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform. The Center’s mission is to develop data-driven, practical policy solutions that promote broad access to high-quality, innovative, and affordable health care – basically improving access to quality health care in the United States. He noted that there are substantial gaps between what health care we can offer and what we have.

The priorities for this reform address:

  • Quality and value
  • Payment and delivery reform
  • Evidence — comparative effectiveness
  • Innovation
  • State health reform
  • Health information technology
  • Health disparities

Dr. McClellan discussed some of the factors that are causing America’s health crisis. Research has shown that many health gaps have not decreased in more than a generation and that some gaps have actually grown larger. This holds true in life expectancy and infant mortality, which becomes more evident within racial and ethnic groups.

The Commission’s goals and objectives include:

  • Raising awareness of shortfalls in Americans’ health and highlight evidence on promising interventions beyond medical care that improve health and longevity.
  • Recommend policy interventions, both public and private, to improve Americans’ health both in the near and longer term.
  • Inspire private and public action on meaningful steps towards improved health for all Americans

Dr. McClellan shared how the Commission’s approach is raising awareness and identifying areas for action through public and private sector outreach by:

  • Focusing on practical, concrete examples, such as early childhood educators
  • Reaching beyond health care to non-traditional allies and advocates
  • Making academic research on social inequalities more accessible to policy makers
  • Conducting work in a nonpartisan fashion
  • Designing a plan that is sustainable, flexible, and relevant

The activities used to engage public and private sectors in efforts that will catalyze change include launching the Commission, engaging in qualitative and quantitative research, holding comprehensive field hearings and special events, and now releasing the report Beyond Health Care: New Directions to a Healthier America. This report includes the Commission’s recommendations and it suggests a twin philosophy: Good health requires personal responsibility and a societal commitment to remove the obstacles preventing too many Americans from leading healthy lives. The recommendations focus on people and the places where they spend most of their time — homes and communities, schools, and workplaces.

Dr. McClellan then detailed specific recommendations and how NIH is involved in researching these various recommendations including early childhood interventions, ability to access healthy foods, creating healthy communities, and the ability to measure progress by building in accountability.

In conclusion, Dr. McClellan shared some potential further research directions for the NIH such as:

  • Developing consensus-based standard data and methods for studying the health effects of non-medical interventions at the local level
  • Building emphasis on studying the impact of non-medical factors into population health studies, to produce actionable knowledge about interventions likely to improve population health and reduce health gaps
  • Support translational research on interventions affecting health in both public and private sectors

He recommended that the next step should include involvement of NIH staff and a follow-up meeting to see if we can identify places to leverage this work through foundations. The presentation was well received and a lively discussion ensued with many thoughtful suggestions offered by the IC Directors.

Ann Brewer

This page last reviewed on May 29, 2012

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