Posted 09 February 2017
By Zachary Brennan
An internal memo from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) obtained by Focus on Thursday reveals that a number of positions at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), particularly within the Office of New Drugs, will likely be exempt from President Donald Trump’s federal hiring freeze.
The memo, sent from Colleen Barros, acting deputy secretary at HHS, to staff division heads and operations division heads on 6 February, notes that HHS has a responsibility to ensure public health safety, including drug and medical device safety, as well as to prevent cybersecurity attacks on health infrastructure and respond to public health emergencies, like the Zika or Ebola outbreaks, or the opioid epidemic.
As far as FDA’s ability to appoint outside experts to its advisory committees, the memo notes that during this 90-day freeze, “appointments will only be considered for positions for those committees that are legally mandated.”
The release of the memo follows a letter from Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) earlier this week calling on the Office of Management and Budget to make certain clarifications with regard to FDA exemptions to the hiring freeze.
The list of HHS employees exempt from the freeze includes: