Monday, May 9, 2022

Has the Famous "HHS Directory" Suddenly Dropped Email for Staff?

Update May 11.

Yes, HHS dropped emails from the cross-HHS directory (FDA, NIH, CMS, etc).  Reported on this blog May 9, and confirmed by POLITICO on May 11.

Original May 9 Blog Follows

For at least 15 years, there's been an HHS Online Directory of all staff (HHS, CMS, FDA, etc), providing name, agency, department, phone, and email.   

Someone asked me for staff emails just a few days ago, and I looked the person up, got their email, but also provided the main directory link.

As of this morning, May 9, 2022, the directory is returning only name, agency, and department.  No actual contact information!  New to me.

There are a lot of implications.  

  • Recently, a FOIA request from me to a MAC was badly mishandled.  (Helpfully to itself, the MAC provided no appeals contacts or information in its reply).   I can no longer look up the next-level-up FOIA person at CMS to address the error.
  • Academics at universities will find it much harder to reach their colleagues at NIH.
  • What if you have an issue for a mid-level person at CMS?  You can no longer access their email or any other contact info.  Are you supposed to send your correction or issue to the head of the agency (Chiquita Brooks-LaSure) and hope it gets filtered down through multiple departments and divisions to the person you know is supposed to handle it?



HHS DIRECTORY was not the only place to get government staff emails, but it was a very convenient one.   Here are some examples.

FDA - FDA lists lots of management email contacts, such as here at the CDRH (devices) website:

CMS - CMS regularly lists some staff emails, for example, every MAC instruction or transmittal is public and has staff contact emails for that particular document.   CMS publishes elaborate annual rulemaking in numerous areas (hospital outpatient, hospital inpatient, etc) and each one lists 20 or more staff contacts & emails for each subsection.  

NIH - I would think academics at universities would regularly want to get in touch with their comrades at NIH.  HHS DIRECTORY was one stop shopping for those emails.   Usually you can get university emails from the university directories, but now it's gotten harder to find an NIH faculty email.