Health and Human Services streamlines management functions

Carrying through on the president's mandate to create a "citizen-centered" government, the Department of Health and Human Services is consolidating a number of management functions. Through its so-called One Department Initiative, detailed in the 2003 budget proposal, HHS plans to eliminate what officials deem redundant and unnecessary layers of bureaucracy. "HHS today has 40 different human resources offices, all of which conduct independent-and often competing-recruitment, hiring, and training activities," according to the budget document. "In 2003, that number will be cut to four, as HHS consolidates personnel matters into offices in Baltimore, Rockville, and Bethesda, Md., and Atlanta, Ga. Such a consolidation will not be pain-free for HHS' 13 agencies, some HR officials said. Officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, for instance, worry about being stretched too thin. To consolidate human resources functions with the department, CMS has to reconfigure its computer systems. Doing so requires shifting resources from other high-priority projects, including the modernization of Medicare's mission-critical computer systems and putting in place new payment systems. HHS spokesman William Pierce said the department will work with its agencies to strike a balance between department mandates and other projects. The ultimate goal, he said, is the help the department think more strategically about its human resources needs. The One Department Initiative will also centralize all public and legislative affairs offices. Currently, HHS has more than 50 public affairs offices and 20 legislative affairs offices. At the National Institutes of Health, for example, each of the 27 institutes and centers has its own communications staff. According to Pierce, there is little accountability for public affairs. Agencies do not report directly to the main HHS public affairs office. Consolidating public affairs, he said, will ensure that the department speaks with one voice. The department will also look for ways to combine publications and public relations contracts. Within the agencies, there is some concern that the approach will stifle creative approaches for reaching out to various audiences, including Medicare beneficiaries and medical researchers. "Our goal is not to impose on the operating divisions, but to work with them and create something that works for them," said Pierce. HHS also plans to consolidate capital planning. Currently, the agency does not have department-wide performance measure for maintaining its facilities. "As a result, construction projects often get selected for reasons other than merit, including congressional earmarks," the budget stated. To rectify the situation, HHS hopes to create a framework for prioritizing all capital projects and developing measurable goals.
Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.