US government watchdog gets new director

The U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) has a new director.

Elisabeth (Lis) Handley, currently deputy operations director of the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) Center for Program Integrity, will become interim director of the ORI on August 26. (CMS and ORI are both part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)). Wanda Jones, formerly interim director and now deputy director, will remain at the agency in her current role.

Handley, according to an announcement sent to HHS employees,

…brings diverse leadership experience from within HHS. In the integrity arena, she was CMS’ Deputy Center Director and Acting Director of the Center for Program Integrity, as well as having done evaluation and inspections in the Office of Inspector General.  Lis’ knowledge of research and grants emanates from her work running the National Cancer Institute’s Office of Liaison Activities and her role as the Deputy National Coordinator for Operations at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.  Additionally, she was involved in grant making and policy for community health centers at the Health Resources and Services Administration. Her leadership directing CMS’ Office of Human Capital has led to a decrease in the time to hire and new developmental and training programs for staff there. She began her federal career as a Presidential Management Fellow at the Social Security Administration, after receiving a master’s degree in public administration from Florida State University.

Handley, whose “detail,” in Federal parlance, to the position is for 120 days, declined to comment to Retraction Watch on the new role.

The directorship of ORI’s Division of Investigative Oversight (DIO), which oversees investigations of misconduct by grantee institutions, is currently open.

The ORI’s last permanent director, Kathy Partin, left in late 2017 after a tumultuous two years at the agency. She is now intramural research integrity officer at the NIH.

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5 thoughts on “US government watchdog gets new director”

  1. A slap on the wrist or a transfer won’t cure the retraction problem if repeat offenders are not read out of the profession. The harm they do weakens public support for ALL scientific endeavor, not just their own speciality,

  2. “The directorship of ORI’s Division of Investigative Oversight (DIO), which oversees investigations of misconduct by grantee institutions, is currently open.”

    What’s the expected profile for the applicant?

  3. Good Point!

    The wording for original job qualifications posted by HR for the DIO (investigations branch) director search wrongly echoed the qualifications desired for the (then) concurrent search for the DEI (education branch) director, which was also open. At that point faceless people in OASH (Office of Assistant Secr. of Health – think ‘downtown’ and ‘political’) filled the DEI position, pulled the concurrent DIO search description, but never republished a corrected version. (That was what, maybe a year ago?)

    My suspicion is that OASH has long wanted to rejigger what ORI does (perhaps never really liking the investigative mission? That new policy would surely be a healthy debate to have, but only if 1) were public and 2) the research/academic community at large had an input.

  4. Also, on 6/27/19 I reported the following in Report on Research Compliance:

    An HHS spokeswoman told RRC that a new DIO director “has been selected [and is] waiting for the security and background processing required for all management/supervisory positions.” She added that a posting for the DEI opening recently closed and that “no further information is available at this time.” This appears to be the third time HHS has posted this position.

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