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Accelerating Change and Transformation in Organizations and Networks (ACTION II)

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Appendix 3. Support and Technical Assistance for Action II Partnerships

Overview

Support and technical assistance will be available for ACTION II Partnerships to support the following activities:

  • Collaboration within and across Partnerships.
  • Travel and participation in real or virtual meetings or training sessions.
  • Administration, reporting, and coordination activities required of prime (Lead) contractors as specified by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
  • Compliance with Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Rehabilitation Act Section 508 requirements.
  • Dissemination, communication, and marketing for selected deliverables.

As is further detailed below, this support/technical assistance will take one of three forms:

  • Services made available at no cost to the Partnerships through the ACTION II portal.
  • Drawdowns from an initial $25,000 Task Order that will be awarded to each Partnership in the first year (and that can be modified, if necessary, over the course of the master contract) to offset expenses associated with administrative, travel, and other AHRQ-specified activities (see section H.14 for discussion of this initial Task Order).
  • Technical assistance available for purchase by the Partnerships on an as-needed basis for a given Task Order, and included in the budget for that Task Order.

ACTION II Portal

AHRQ will develop and maintain an ACTION II portal to collaborate, coordinate, and communicate within and among ACTION II Partnerships, staff, and Task Order Officers and external funding organizations or co-sponsors. More specifically, the portal will include tools to support dialogue and collaboration, including Web conferencing capability, provision of collaborative work spaces, and threaded discussion lists. In addition, the portal may be used by AHRQ or ACTION II members to host teleconferences or Webinars to provide technical support, information updates, and training and to solicit input or feedback on topics or issues of broad concern. Finally, the portal will house a comprehensive knowledge repository that contains profiles, with contact information, for each ACTION II Partnership and documents and resources of interest to members (e.g., relevant literature, tools, technical assistance, products, health data resources, evaluation instruments, templates, and project management resources).

Note: AHRQ will provide technical staff to operate and maintain portal software applications. The portal will maximize security and data privacy.

Administrative Task Order

Upon award of an ACTION II master contract, each Partnership will be awarded an administrative Task Order to support expenses associated with AHRQ-specified activities such as: travel and participation in required meetings, Webinars, and training sessions; updating Partnership profiles posted on the ACTION II portal; sharing resources and lessons learned within and across Partnerships; meeting Federal reporting or other requirements; and other activities associated with serving the coordinating functions assigned to the prime contractor, as specified by AHRQ.

Technical Assistance With Meeting Federal Requirements

Task Order contract research conducted under Federal auspices, and products and deliverables generated by such research, must meet a number of requirements, including those associated with compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, and regulations governing research that involves human subjects. These requirements, and the conditions under which they apply, are described in greater detail below. Because most (if not all) ACTION II Task Orders will have to comply with one or more of these Federal requirements, each ACTION II Partnership will be required to identify an individual or small team within the Lead partner organization that will be responsible for ensuring that such Federal requirements are met and coordinating all activities associated with doing so.

In addition, all proposals offered in response to ACTION II Requests for Task Orders will have to specifically describe how any applicable Federal requirements will be met. Some offerors may have the necessary technical expertise and capacity to fulfill these requirements within their project teams; others may not. Offerors opting to draw on in-house expertise will have to include in their Task Order proposals evidence of that expertise within the project team and demonstrated past success in fulfilling any such requirements related to the proposed work. Offerors needing technical assistance will be able to subcontract for that expertise using Task Order award funds, through a pre-arranged AHRQ contractor, as described more fully below. In either case (whether the proposal team requests a subcontractor through AHRQ or supplies the expertise itself), all ACTION II Technical Proposals will be required to include details on how OMB or Section 508 requirements will be met and by whom, and cost proposals will be required to include associated personnel hours, other resources, and costs.

OMB Clearance Package Development

Background: OMB clearance is an outgrowth of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. It is designed to minimize the burden that data collection activities might have on the public and to ensure the quality and utility of the information collected. OMB clearance is used interchangeably with Information Collection Request (ICR) clearance or Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) clearance.

OMB clearance is needed for all Federal contract research if any data collection activities involve 10 or more respondents for whom the questions are standardized in nature. This includes any instances in which an interview schedule composed of a set of core questions will be used for 10 or more subjects, even if it is modified for subgroups of nine or fewer interviewees (e.g., doctors vs. nurses, managers vs. front-line employees). These data collection activities include research project surveys, interviews, questionnaires, epidemiology studies, health risk factor assessments, and evaluations. Institutional Review Board (IRB) clearance and OMB clearance are two separate clearances. Having one of the two clearances does not negate the need for the other.

The normal OMB clearance process currently takes approximately 7 to 9 months from beginning to end. More details about the timeline are available at http://www.os.dhhs.gov/ocio/policy/collection/infocollectiontimeline.html. An OMB Clearance Package includes a number of documents and processes. These include:

  1. Two Federal Register notices (60-day and 30-day notices).
  2. Supporting Statement. The Supporting Statement consists of two parts and follows a standard format. Section A provides the justification for the proposed data collection activity and Section B outlines the statistical methods and design.
  3. Attachments. Any additional materials supporting the proposed data collection or instruments that will be used as part of the study are included as attachments, such as data collection instrument(s); a copy of the Federal Register notice; a copy of instructions or letters sent to respondents describing the study; a copy of applicable sections of laws or regulations regarding the data collection; or a list of consulted individuals (if a focus group or expert panel was consulted during the development of the data collection instrument).

Technical assistance with preparing the OMB clearance package: Project teams that do not have the expertise needed for preparing the required OMB clearance package will be expected to subcontract for this work, using Task Order award funds, through a pre-arranged AHRQ contractor. The subcontractor will gather relevant information about the project from a designated project team member and prepare the necessary documents. As noted above, arrangements to work with the subcontractor to develop the OMB clearance package must be included in the Technical Proposal, and the cost of the subcontract must be included in the cost proposal for the Task Order in question.

Note: Should the need arise, a project team member, in addition to the subcontractor, will be required to participate in any telephone calls with the OMB Desk Officer.

Adherence to Section 508 Accessibility Standards and Web Product Requirements

Background: Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 USC 794d) requires Federal agencies to purchase electronic and information technologies that meet specific accessibility standards. This law helps to ensure that Federal employees with disabilities have access to, and use of, the information and data they need to do their jobs. Furthermore, this law ensures that members of the public with disabilities have the ability to access government information and services.

There are three regulations addressing the requirements detailed in Section 508. Section 508 technical and functional standards are codified in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 36 Part 1194, and can be accessed at the Access Board Web site (http://www.access-board.gov). The second regulation issued to implement Section 508 is the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). FAR Part 39.2 requires that agency acquisitions of electronic and information technology comply with the Access Board's standards. The entire FAR is found in CFR Title 48 Chapter 1, and can be accessed at http://www.acquisition.gov. The FAR rule implementing Section 508 can be found at http://www.section508.gov. The third applicable regulation is the Health and Human Services Acquisition Regulation (HHSAR).

This language is applicable to Statements of Work or Performance Work Statements generated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that require a contractor or consultant to (1) produce content in any format—including text, audio, or video—that could be placed on an HHS-owned or HHS-funded Web site; or (2) write, create, or produce any communications materials intended for public or internal use, including reports, documents, charts, posters, presentations (such as Microsoft® PowerPoint®), or video material that could be placed on an HHS-owned or HHS-funded Web site.

All contractors and subcontractors or consultants responsible for preparing or posting content intended for use on an HHS-funded or HHS-managed Web site must comply with applicable Section 508 accessibility standards as codified in 36 CFR Part 1194, and where applicable, those set forth in FAR and HHSAR. Remediation of any materials that do not comply with all necessary accessibility standards will be the responsibility of the contractor or consultant retained to produce the Web-suitable content or communications material. Prime contractors may enter into subcontracts in the performance of a Federal contract; however, the prime remains obligated to deliver what is called for under the contract.

References for Section 508 Compliance:

HHS Policy for Section 508 Electronic and Information Technology (E&IT) (January 2005):http://www.hhs.gov/od/Final_Section_508_Policy.html

HHS Section 508 Web site:http://www.hhs.gov/od/508policy/index.html

HHS Web Communications and New Media Section 508 Web site: http://www.hhs.gov/web/508/index.html

General Services Administration (GSA) Section 508 Web site: http://www.section508.gov/index.cfm

Technical assistance with meeting Section 508 requirements: Project teams that do not have the required expertise to fulfill the above requirements will be expected to acquire assistance from AHRQ's Section 508 Technical Assistance Center (http://www.ahrq.gov/508tac/tacover.htm). The Center's Web page includes a menu of services and the charges related to each requested service. Services include: conversion and remediation of developed, non-compliant products, training and education, and consulting and expert services. If a Partnership plans to avail itself of specific Section 508 Technical Assistance Center services, the Task Order Technical Proposal must include information on necessary tasks to be accomplished via a subcontract with Section 508 Technical Assistance Center staff, and the cost of the required services must be included in the cost proposal.

In addition to assistance with compliance with Section 508 of the amended Rehabilitation Act, the Center can assist with Web site usability of Task Order products and other HHS and Federal regulations regarding management, privacy, and security of information technology (IT) systems, and/or designing Web sites and creating Web site graphics. Technical assistance will be available for ACTION II contractors that need help to support evolving user needs for electronic products or improved system administration, performance, search, navigation, and usability for such products. In addition, technical assistance may include development of Web sites and other electronic products that are in full compliance with all relevant sections of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition to the Section 508 compliance Web resources provided above, information on accessibility can be found at:

Dissemination, Communication and Marketing

Simply providing information to potential users is insufficient to generate substantial rates of actual use of the information by specific target audiences. A key to successful implementation in health care delivery is to more closely link researchers, users and other decisionmakers to ensure both the usefulness of information generated and the actual use of that information in practice. The literature suggests that actual use of research increases when:

  • The research findings meet the expressed needs of the target audience.
  • Short-term and long-term information-sharing relationships and networks are created between researchers and target audiences.
  • An integrated set of strategies and tactics, specifically designed to support practical use of research, is employed over a substantial period of time.

For these reasons, most ACTION II Task Orders will require some dissemination activities designed to increase actual, meaningful uptake or application of innovations and/or lessons learned. In fact, a well-designed dissemination plan that reflects an understanding of the above issues is likely to be a key component of the success of a winning proposal. For this reason, AHRQ encourages offerors to subcontract for dissemination-related activities if their project team does not have substantial expertise of this kind. (However, AHRQ does not have any pre-selected subcontractors to recommend in this regard.)

That said, in some limited instances, ACTION II project results may be considered by AHRQ to merit further investment in dissemination, communication, marketing, and technical assistance from AHRQ's Office of Communications and Knowledge Transfer (OCKT). Such assistance may include, but is not limited to:

  • Creation of varied and appropriate dissemination products and vehicles.
  • Assistance in determining the most appropriate target audiences and the content needs of those audiences.
  • Performing and promoting Web site marketing and dissemination; and/or convening technical expert panels and meetings.
  • Identifying, conducting, preparing and delivering educational activities, teleconferences and Webinars.
  • Identifying opportunities for collaboration and sharing of ideas, approaches, best practices and lessons learned across AHRQ grantees, contractors and project initiatives, and coordinating and facilitating identified common activities and interests across these efforts where cost-effective.
  • Providing assistance in use of health information exchanges, IT networks, connectivity, hardware, software, interoperability and standards.
  • Designing and offering special, limited technical assistance engagements, to meet the needs of regional AHRQ partners, stakeholders and others in their project efforts.
  • Reviewing awardee final reports and findings, and providing summaries of key findings, lessons learned and best practices identified while providing technical assistance.
  • Devising adoption strategies that can be readily accepted and are likely to be sustained (e.g., issue papers, briefs, implementation stories, Podcasts, Webinars).

Since the value of Task Order deliverables for intended audiences is not always known with certainty in advance, this level of dissemination, communication, and marketing activity is not generally expected to be included in a Task Order proposal. However, if AHRQ deems that additional dissemination, communication, and marketing for a specific deliverable is likely to have potential value, the partners involved will be expected to work collaboratively with OCKT staff to—at a minimum—familiarize themselves with the features, benefits, and limitations of the Task Order deliverables in question.

Current as of February 2010

 

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