FDA on Track

Accountable, effective government took another significant step forward recently. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cut the ribbon on its FDA-TRACK management system, advancing the President’s Accountable Government Initiative and Open Government Initiative.  The acronym that FDA chose to name its management approach, TRACK, nicely conveys of the pillars of the Obama Administration’s approach to modernizing government. TRACK stands for Transparency, Results, Accountability, Credibility, and Knowledge-Sharing. 

With the full scale launch of FDA-TRACK, the Food and Drug Administration is moving down the path we want all Federal agencies to follow. Agency senior leaders, in this case FDA Commissioner Hamburg and Deputy Commissioner Sharfstein, are driving performance gains on  agency priorities and expecting agency managers, FDA Center Directors and others, to do the same – not just for agency priorities, but also for each Center’s and program’s priorities.  FDA has already launched a pilot of FDA-TRACK and made progress on a number of fronts. It has, for example, increased the number of employees trained in the Incident Command System (ICS), improving the agency’s response to emergencies; developed a new risk-based approach for evaluating the safety, effectiveness, and quality of new animal drugs; and begun reducing vacancy rates on critical advisory councils. Deputy Commissioner Sharfstein runs regular data-driven reviews with each organizational unit and for key initiatives to keep FDA managers driving progress on priorities and reducing risks. These reviews are informed by data analysis that identifies problems and understands their causes, complemented by benchmarking comparisons and evaluations. And FDA is sharing FDA-TRACK information openly with the public on its website.

FDA-TRACK builds on lessons of “Stat” and similar performance management systems that have been deployed by various governments to drive down crime rates, prison disruption, hospital wait times, overtime costs, and other problems and to drive up health, children’s well-being, and education outcomes. FDA-TRACK’s constructive, data-rich performance review epitomizes our commitment to learn from experience and use objective evidence to identify and build on what works, while fixing or tossing what does not. 

FDA’s launch of FDA-TRACK is exciting, as is its commitment to open, accountable, performance-improving government. It is a great example of changes happening across the Administration that will improve the way government works, and government’s impact on outcomes, for years to come.

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