FDA Official: We Can’t Share Data without a Better Security Policy

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FDA's CTO said FDA needs a “digital engagement framework."

The Food and Drug Administration’s security policy isn’t “mature enough” to share data with citizens or with the private sector, the agency's chief technology officer said during a recent panel discussion on health IT.

Speaking at an event hosted by AFCEA Bethesda in Bethesda, Maryland, FDA’s Chief Technology Officer Farhan Khan told the audience the federal government should regularly use social media to share FDA datasets with citizens. 

But “what we have seen at FDA is that our security policy, our security framework, is not mature enough to basically understand or allow us to share the data," he added. 

He said FDA is trying to figure out how to better share data online.

“It doesn’t matter whether you use Twitter or Facebook or you do Salesforce or Microsoft . . . Security [frameworks] will tell you what can be shared, and what cannot be shared," Khan added. 

Khan predicted that in the next two or three years, digital platforms will be the primary means for connecting with citizens, either to share data or to gather comments from users. But so-called “digital engagement” might not be a fit for the traditional contracting process, he said. 

Digital engagement happens relies on feedback from citizens and industry, he said.

"When you get the feedback, you make changes accordingly," he explained. "If your contract, or your contracting company, doesn’t allow you to do that, then you have a problem.”

Khan said FDA needs a “digital engagement framework” to clarify some of these issues.

“If you look at the IT strategies of different agencies, most of them don’t even have ‘digital engagement’ in there," he said. "Or it’s there, but it’s a low priority. We do not have a choice. We have to engage with our citizens, with our industry people, and all that and . . . we need to make sure it’s a top priority of everyone. “

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