COUNCIL OFFICER QUALIFICATIONS – Department of Health and Human Services EmployeesIn an attempt to evaluate if an AHA volunteer that works for the Department of Health and Human Services, the following criteria need to be followed.
|The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and its related agencies (Appendix B) have standards which preclude their employees from having fiduciary or management responsibilities in professional societies. Fiduciary is defined as a legal or ethical relationship where someone has undertaken to act for and on behalf of another in a particular matter in circumstances which give rise to a relationship of trust and confidence|
The following employees of DHHS or its agencies can serve as officers for the committees listed below as long as there is no fiduciary or management involvement.
- Consultants for the DHHS or its agencies: On Science - Personal Science opinion is acceptable, reporting on employer’s opinion is acceptable, as long as there is no fiduciary or management involvement, (i.e.: Strategic Planning or budgetary decisions.)
- VA/Military Hospitals: AHA does not support funding initiatives for VA – we could advocate that they are caregivers for patients therefore can serve in an officer capacity.
The implications for AHA leadership roles that require fiduciary and management duties are ones where employees from DHHS or its agencies are excluded from assuming committee officer positions on:
- Council Committees including Leadership, Admin and Science subcommittees
- Advocacy Coordinating Committee
- Council Operations Committee
- Committee on Scientific Sessions Program
- Executive Database Steering Committee
- International Committee
- Manuscript Oversight Committee
- Research Committee
- Science Advisory and Coordinating Committee
- Scientific Publishing Committees
Science volunteers who are active employees at these agencies can be Federal Liaisons and can be involved in and can play robust roles as: authors of papers, peer reviewers, abstract graders, etc. There is a limit on involvement per government regulations around fiduciary and management roles. (Appendix A)
Council Operations Committee (COC) POLICYAHA’s primary concern is that, during the term as an officer of the Council (Vice Chairperson, Chairperson, and Immediate Past Chair and as a future member of SACC [Science Advisory & Coordinating Committee which advises the AHA Board of Directors on matters of science] and its subcommittees, we jointly do not allow a situation to occur where either you, DHHS or the AHA can be viewed as having a COI. In order to protect all parties, disclosure, recusal from actual or reasonably perceived conflicts, and compliance with the AHA Conflict of Interest Standards is required. COI and perceived conflict must be disclosed upfront at the beginning of the relationship.
Councils desiring to elevate an employee of DHHS or its agencies to the level of officer shall comply with the following policy statement:
- If an employee of DHHS or its agencies is interested in serving with AHA, either in an official or personal capacity, per the DHHS, the employee should contact the ethics office at their employing HHS subcomponent for ethics advice tailored to that employee’s specific circumstances and provide AHA with the employer’s written authorization including restrictions.
- For full-time employees of DHHS (or its agencies), AHA Legal Counsel and COC will review Councils requests to serve as officers on Council Leadership Committees and/or Science Subcommittees. If the appointment is deemed appropriate, COC will outline the conditions of service to the nominee in writing, specifying disclosure and recusal policies relevant to their appointment.
- Final decisions will be communicated back to the Council chair. Example AHA letter (Appendix C) including Responsibilities of Council Officers (Appendix D)
Appendix A - Department of Health and Human Services Ethics Office LetterQuestion:
Are there any restrictions for HHS agency employees (specifically AHRQ, NIH, CDC, CMS, FDA) for serving on outside organizations? The question pertains to employees of these agencies that want to serve in leadership roles on science related committees of the American Heart Association. Are there things they can and cannot participate in due to their employment with a government agency?
The ethics rules that apply to employees of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) when they participate in activities with outside entities like the American Heart Association (AHA). The rules are fairly complex and are very fact specific depending on the particular employee, the proposed work with the outside entity, and the employee’s specific official duties with HHS.
An employee may be able to serve in an official capacity as a liaison to your organization, or possibly in other capacities, if this official duty service promotes a Departmental interest, is authorized under statutory authority, and is approved by the employee’s supervisor. If an employee is serving in an official capacity, the employee would be restricted from participation in AHA fundraising solicitations.
If an employee wants to serve in her personal capacity in a leadership role with AHA, and if her participation would include teaching, speaking, writing or providing professional or consultative services, or if serving as an officer, director, or board member in a position which requires advice, counsel, or consultation, that employee would be required to request approval in advance of the proposed outside activity via a form we use for this approval process, the HHS Form 520. Generally, an outside activity is permissible so long as it does not conflict with the employee’s official duties. There are, however, two categories of outside activities that are always prohibited for all HHS employees:
- Providing compensated assistance in the preparation of grant applications, contract proposals, program reports, or other documents intended for submission by outside entities to HHS; and
- Working for pay in particular activities funded by HHS. Since HHS funds flow out to such a wide variety of projects, it is important to be alert to this restriction and to be sure that the funding source for your specific activity is not HHS.
Additionally, service in any capacity that would include a fiduciary obligation to AHA, like actual Board service or service as an officer, might raise additional financial conflict of interest issues that would need to be reviewed. In most circumstances, serving on an advisory committee, does not include a fiduciary obligation. There are also some further outside activity restrictions applicable to employees of the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration.
If an employee is interested in serving with AHA, either in an official or personal capacity, the employee should contact the ethics office at their employing HHS subcomponent for ethics advice tailored to that employee’s specific circumstances. I hope you find the above information helpful. We appreciate you interest in HHS and in the expertise of our employees.
Alternate Agency Ethics Official
Deputy Associate General Counsel for Ethics Advice and Policy
HHS OS OGC, Ethics Division
Appendix B - Department of Health and Human Services
- (ACF) Administration for Children and Families
- The Administration for Children & Families promotes the economic and social well-being of families, children, individuals and communities through a range of educational and supportive programs in partnership with states, tribes, and community organizations.
- (ACL) Administration for Community Living
- The Administration for Community Living brings together the efforts of the Administration on Aging and the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to increase access to community support and resources for the unique needs of older Americans and people with disabilities across the lifespan.
- (AHRQ) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
- The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, as part of the Public Health Service, is responsible for supporting research designed to improve the quality of healthcare, reduce its costs, address patient safety and medical errors, and broaden access to essential services.
- (ATSDR) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
- The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, as part of the Public Health Service, is charged with the prevention of exposure to toxic substances and the prevention of the adverse health effects and diminished quality of life associated with exposure to hazardous substances from waste sites, unplanned releases, and other sources of pollution present in the environment.
- (CDC) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as part of the Public Health Service, is charged with protecting the public health of the Nation by providing leadership and direction in the prevention of and control of diseases and other preventable conditions, and responding to public health emergencies.
- (CMS) Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services combines the oversight of the Medicare program, the Federal portion of the Medicaid program and State Children's Health Insurance Program, the Health Insurance Marketplace, and related quality assurance activities.
- (FDA) Food and Drug Administration
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as part of the Public Health Service, is charged with ensuring that food is safe, pure, and wholesome; human and animal drugs, biological products, and medical devices are safe and effective; and electronic products that emit radiation are safe.
- (HRSA) Health Resources and Services Administration
- The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the primary Federal agency for improving access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated or medically vulnerable.
- (IHS) Indian Health Service
- The Indian Health Service, as part of the Public Health Service, provides a comprehensive health services delivery system for American Indians and Alaska Natives, with opportunity for maximum tribal involvement in developing and managing programs to meet their health needs.
- (NIH) National Institutes of Health
- The National Institutes of Health (NIH), as part of the Public Health Service, supports biomedical and behavioral research domestically and abroad, conducts research in its own laboratories and clinics, trains promising young researchers, and promotes acquisition and distribution of medical knowledge.
- (SAMHSA) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a part of the Public Health Service, provides national leadership to ensure that knowledge acquired is effectively used for the prevention and treatment of addictive and mental disorders. It strives to improve access and reduce barriers to high quality, effective programs and services for individuals who suffer from or are at risk for these disorders, as well as for their families and communities.
Veterans Affairs and Military Hospitals:
- US Department of Veteran’s Affairs
- TA worldwide resource that provides information on VA programs, veterans benefits, VA facilities worldwide, and VA medical automation software. These services are offered to Veterans, dependents, and survivors.
- Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
- The primary mission of the school is to prepare graduates for service to the U.S. at home and abroad in the medical corps. The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences is a health science university run by the U.S. federal government.