Transparency Task Force
On January 21, 2009, President Obama issued a Memorandum to the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies on Transparency and Open Government. The Memorandum called for “creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government” and noted that “[o]peness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.” The Memorandum pledges that the Administration “will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use” and instructs executive departments and agencies to “solicit public feedback to identify information of greatest use to the public.”
Transparency is also a top priority for Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. Secretary Sebelius has formed a group that is dedicated to promoting transparency and openness at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and is coordinating an overall HHS response to the Administration’s Open Government Directive.
Following the leadership of the President and the Secretary, the Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, launched the FDA’s Transparency Initiative in June 2009.
Commissioner Hamburg formed an internal task force to develop recommendations for enhancing transparency of FDA’s operations and decision-making processes. At the time of the announcement, she stated, “President Obama has pledged to strengthen our democracy by creating an unprecedented level of openness and public participation in government, and the FDA looks forward to participating in this process.” Commissioner Hamburg expressed that “increasing our openness will help us more effectively implement our mission to promote and protect the public health.”
Commissioner Hamburg asked Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, the Principal Deputy Commissioner of the FDA, to chair FDA’s internal task force, whose members include five of the Agency’s center directors, the Chief Counsel, the Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs, and the Chief Scientist. The Task Force was charged with submitting a written report to the Commissioner on the Task Force’s findings and recommendations.