HHS identified "Consolidation of Surveys and Development of Data Standards" as a major issue for REGO II. The problem can be summarized as follows:
Inefficient and Overlapping Survey Efforts, Burden on Respondents. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spends considerable resources each year on multiple, decentralized general purpose and program-relevant health surveys. These funds flow primarily from the budgets of multiple components within the Public Health Service, as well as from HCFA and ASPE. Many of these surveys overlap with respect to populations of interest, analytic capabilities, sample and questionnaire designs, and collection efforts. These overlaps sometimes place undue burdens on survey respondents.
Inadequate Survey Data. Despite the money and effort devoted to these activities, we lack the information necessary to assess the health status of the population, determinants to health, risks to health, and the functioning of the public health system, and lack the ability to analytically relate data across these areas. Similarly, data necessary to understand and effectively model health care access, utilization, insurance coverage and health care costs are inadequate. In addition, the HHS survey activities often fail to take into account the needs of -- and resources provided by -- States and private sector activities. This has been, in large measure, a product of inadequate coordination, cooperation, and consolidation.
Most HHS data systems have traditionally been developed independent of each other, with relatively focused analytic objectives to meet. While this might optimize the usefulness of the resulting data in the particular focus area, it results in a lack of data on the multiple, interconnected aspects of health and health care. The analytic potential of all data systems is thus greatly reduced.
Through Reinventing Government Part II (REGO II), HHS has targeted the improvement of the analytic capacity of HHS programs, the filling of major data gaps, and the establishment of a survey consolidation framework in which HHS data activities are streamlined and rationalized. A Survey Consolidation Working Group was charged with developing a consensus plan for meeting these objectives.
The working group was given one month to complete this task. This document is the report of that group.