A new report from the Government Accountability Office finds the Department of Health and Human Services lacks appropriate controls to monitor contracted work by the National Quality Forum to deliver to HHS national health care quality measures.

Since contracting with the National Quality Forum in January 2009, HHS has used or planned to use 164 of 334 measures it received as of August 2011, according to GAO, a congressional investigatory agency. Many of the measures are existing ones converted to an electronic format. HHS, for instance, has used 44 converted measures in the electronic health records meaningful use program.

But those measures contained errors and required fixing, according to GAO, and some were not delivered in a timely manner, necessitating an expansion of contractual costs by $560,000. “HHS did not use all of the tools for monitoring that are required under the contract,” the report states. “Specifically, HHS did not conduct an annual performance evaluation to assess timeliness and cost issues that could have helped to inform NQF’s future scope of work.”

Overall, however, NQF completed or made progress on 60 of 63 projects under the contract as of August 2011. The GAO recommends more comprehensive planning from HHS to identify its quality measurement needs, testing of the electronic versions of meaningful use measures in a timely manner to identify problems, and use of more tools to monitor contract provisions. The report is available at gao.gov/products/GAO-12-136.

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