Paul Howard: FDA, measure (and improve) thyself

The Hill, April 23,  2014

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is arguably the most important regulatory agency in the country—regulating everything from the safety of imported seafood to the latest medicines developed for cancer and Parkinson’s. Yet when things go well, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg typically hears little praise from Congress and the media. But when crisis—real or perceived— strikes in food or drug safety, the agency faces withering criticism on the Hill.

There’s got to be a better way to routinely evaluate the FDA’s performance than trial by crises.  The agency, after all, is enormously complex (with nearly 15,000 employees and dozens of centers and divisions), and like any complex organization, performance across divisions is bound to vary significantly.

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