FDA-Track launched to improve program performance

Wednesday - 9/1/2010, 9:08am EDT

Joshua Sharfstein, Principal Deputy Commissioner, Chair of the Transparency Task Force, FDA

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

The Food and Drug Administration has launched FDA Track - a performance management system designed to make the FDA more accountable and transparent.

The system contains hundreds of measures of the FDA while breaking many of them down into thousands of parts. It's designed to give managers and employees a way to measure how well they're doing their jobs.

Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, the Principal Deputy Commissioner and Chair of the Transparency Task Force at the FDA told Federal News Radio FDA Track is a different way to approach open government. "It's really kind of a frame shift," said Sharfstein.

For example, consider an issue of one element of what FDA does: food safety. "People can be working on the same problem in four different places and they're coordinating with each other, but it's not all...pulled together," said Sharfstein. In this example, regional and field offices doing the inspections, the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition setting the standards and reviewing the inspections, and the Chief Counsel's Office considering the enforcement aspects can now view the same data, in real time, using FDA Track to work together.

Sharfstein said FDA Track can be thought of as still in a beta-mode and is constantly being updated. Beyond the results, most impressive to FDA's Chair of the Transparency Task Force has been the acceptance of the goals of the project.

From my perspective, what has been most rewarding is that the career federal officials have responded so well to this. It's an opportunity for someone in the office who might never meet with the Commissioner except in the context of a crisis to get up and really explain what...they've been doing. Their success, their struggles in their office, which at FDA can be an extremely important office, but really never discuss that much. This is an opportunity for them to really engage and talk about the kinds of things they want to do.

For more about FDA Track and how it works, listen to the entire interview by clicking on the player at the top of the page.