How many different data systems, indicators, and reporting requirements must recipients of federal HIV grant funds navigate? How much time does it take to comply with these reporting requirements and does the reported information result in tangible improvements in the quality of federally funded HIV prevention, care, and treatment services? How do grantees manage different HIV reporting requirements from various federal agencies, and, importantly, what do grantees have to say about the best ways to streamline HIV data collection and reduce reporting burden? HHS wants to know.
In a previous AIDS.gov blog post, we discussed our work to implement the National HIV/AIDS Strategy's call to streamline and standardize the collection, sharing, and processing of programmatic and fiscal data to simplify administration of HIV services grants. Toward this aim, the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy (OHAIDP) has launched Phase II of a multiphase project that will culminate in the development of HHS agency implementation plans for streamlining HIV data collection and reducing grantee reporting burden while preserving the capacity to monitor the quality of HIV services and report on program impact nationwide. By reducing undue reporting burden we believe that grantees will free-up capacity that can be devoted to the delivery of HIV services. But to be sure we take steps that meaningfully and measurably achieve our goals, we need to hear from those most affected by the current HIV grant reporting requirements.
To better understand these reporting requirements from grantees' and sub-grantees' perspectives, we have published a Request for Information (RFI) "Guidance on Data Streamlining and Reducing Undue Reporting Burden for HHS-funded HIV Prevention, Treatment, and Care Services Grantees," which invites respondents to share recommendations on such matters as:
- How much time, resources, and personnel costs are required to meet federal HIV grants administration requirements?
- Which requirements are most burdensome and which are most useful for program planning, monitoring, evaluation, or program improvements?
- What specific changes in federal, state, local, or tribal government policies, improvements in public health infrastructure, or other modifications are needed to achieve an optimized balance between data streamlining, reporting burden, and outcome monitoring?
- What specific policies and infrastructure are needed to standardize data requirements at the national, state, and local levels across federal programs supporting HIV/AIDS services?
- What specific solutions have grantees, sub-grantees, or contractors implemented to manage the administration requirements for data collection, monitoring, and reporting?
- Which required indicators and data elements can be eliminated without affecting adversely the capacity to monitor outcomes of HHS HIV services programs?
- What extant HIV data reporting systems or approaches to data reporting are the most effective, efficient, and acceptable for grantees? What recommendations would you offer for facilitating both data reporting and data sharing between funders and grantees?
- How best to measure our progress streamlining data collection and reducing reporting burden?
We appreciate that this is not a simple task and that it's important to balance the need for information about how federal HIV funds are being used with an awareness that grantees do not have unlimited capacity to report on every potential HIV program item of interest. As such, we welcome your thoughts, perspectives and concerns about this important undertaking. Electronic responses to the RFI are preferred and may be emailed to HIVOpenData@hhs.gov by September 21, 2012. Readers should feel free to use the comments option below to submit comments as well.
Andrew Forsyth, Ph.D., is senior science advisor and Vera Yakovchenko, M.P.H., is public health analyst for the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.