Today marks a milestone in our ongoing efforts to achieve the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS): The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) submitted its NHAS operational plan to the White House. Upon release of the NHAS in July, the President tasked six Federal agencies with lead responsibility for implementing the Strategy and gave them 150 days to develop an operational plan detailing how they will approach this work. Joining us today in submitting their own Operational Plans were the Departments of Labor, Justice, Housing and Urban Development, and Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration.
Over the past five months representatives of agencies and offices from across HHS have engaged in thoughtful examination of their respective programs and budgets as well as vigorous cross-departmental dialogue. You’ve read and commented about these efforts in my several blog posts about our process to develop the Operational Plan and we hope you will continue to do so in the coming year. Also, significant external input into our thoughts about the plan was received in writing, online, and through conversations with the community and the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA).
The outcome of this effort is reflected in the HHS Operational Plan and in the individual agency and office plans which strive to build on, better coordinate, and refocus our existing HIV/AIDS efforts in support of the NHAS goals:
- Reducing New HIV Infections
- Increasing Access to Care and Improving Health Outcomes for People Living with HIV
- Reducing HIV-Related Disparities and Health Inequities
The HHS Operational Plan parallels the NHAS Federal Implementation Plan by focusing on the initial steps to move forward toward the Strategy’s goals. As such, it highlights near term activities. Over the course of the coming year, our cross-departmental dialogue will continue as we assess progress and, in consultation with the Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) and other partners and stakeholders, work together to develop a refreshed plan for 2012.
Over the next several weeks, we anticipate ongoing dialogue with ONAP and the Office of Management and Budget as they review all six operational plans. They may request elaboration, clarification or revisions to our plans. Once all the plans are finalized, we will be sharing them publicly. This will happen sometime in January 2011. In the meantime, you might find this overview of Federal domestic HIV/AIDS activities (PDF 598 KB) of interest.
While completion of the Operational Plan is an important step forward, we must also recognize that we have a ways to go in achieving the goals of the Strategy. Our work will continue on activities tasked to HHS in the Federal Implementation Plan that accompanied the Strategy. So, too, will your work. As the President has noted, the job of working to realize the promise of the Strategy cannot fall to the Federal Government alone, nor should it. Success will require the commitment of all parts of society, including State, tribal and local governments, businesses, faith communities, philanthropy, the scientific and medical communities, educational institutions, media, people living with HIV, and others.
As we continue our conversations across HHS, with the White House, and with you about what HHS is embarking on to meet these challenging and worthy goals, what is your plan to contribute to helping the nation reach these goals? How can your organization engage? Share your own plans and thoughts in the comments section below.