The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a Notice in the Federal Register, December 1, 2009, Volume 229, No. 74, that it has reorganized the HHS Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). The stated purpose of the reorganization was “to more effectively meet the mission outlined by The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).” The new structure establishes the following five offices that all report to the National Coordinator of the ONC:
- Office of Economic Modeling and Analysis;
- Office of the Chief Scientist;
- Office of the Deputy National Coordinator for Programs & Policy;
- Office of the Deputy National Coordinator for Operations; and
- Office of the Chief Privacy Officer.
The immediate “Office of the National Coordinator,” which also reports to the ONC National Coordinator, constitutes a sixth component.
Notably, implementing the Office of Chief Privacy Officer is a new role for the ONC. The primary responsibilities of the Officer of Chief Privacy Officer are twofold: “(1) advising the National Coordinator on privacy, security, and data stewardship of electronic health information and (2) coordinating the [ONC’s] efforts with similar privacy officers in other Federal agencies, State and regional agencies, and foreign countries with regard to the privacy, security, and data stewardship of electronic, individually identifiable health information.” The Chief Privacy Officer will primarily advise the National Coordinator, but also may report to other individuals as necessary.