Tom Price tells HHS to reimagine how the agency works

Health and Human Services Secretary unveils a new initiative designed to optimize ways the department operates.
By Mike Miliard
03:27 PM
Tom Price HHS

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price introduced a new initiative to reimagine HHS and encouraged all 79,000 staffers to think "expansively" about ways to serve the American public more effectively and efficiently. 

"This is about finding ways for our department to better fulfill our mission," Price said during a speech to HHS staff on May 2. "Our goal is to begin reexamining what we do every day and ask ourselves: what are we doing, why are we doing it, how can we do it better and could it be done better somewhere else or through some other process?" 

Price promised that this is not a mere budgetary exercise to achieve arbitrary financial goals and said he has no preconceptions about what and what does not work best. 

[Also: Health IT important, but too burdensome for doctors, Tom Price says]

The first big deadline for this process is June 30, when Price aims to send a brief draft proposal to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, outlining the changes suggested by HHS staff. (That's the same day the department's draft strategic plan is due, and Price said he sees the two planning documents as crucially linked.)

"Given the fiscal situation that our country faces today and the budgetary constraints we have, we absolutely must plan ahead,” he said. 

To that end, the initiative would involve the heads of every staff and operating division at HHS, with an executive committee comprising both political and career leadership from the Secretary's office and key staff divisions.

There will also be a steering committee composed of members including the HHS Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and Assistant Secretary for Administration.

The bulk of the work would be done by five working groups, each focused on a crucial HHS mission: the healthcare delivery system, the public health system, economic and social well-being, scientific advancement and management and stewardship, said Price.

Throughout, they will be focused six principles for more effective strategy: engagement, empowerment, service, performance, stewardship and sustainability, he said.

"The success in this endeavor isn't going to happen just because we get the right corporate buzzwords or we present elegant diagrams of the organizational charts from consultants far and wide," said Price. "Everyone will be empowered to help us identify where we have opportunities for improvement. That means respecting expertise of divisions … but also means constant cooperation across divisions."

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