Sneak Preview: Comments Requested on CDER Library Definitions

July 12, 2017 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xgran_bookshot(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the Federal Grants Management Handbook.) Officials overseeing the Common Data Elements Repository (CDER) Library are asking grant recipient stakeholders to suggest potential common definitions for thousands of data elements within the database.

Developed as part of the Section 5 pilot under the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) (Pub. L. 113-101), the CDER Library is designed to be a federalwide, online searchable repository for grants-specific data standards, definitions and context. The library was authorized jointly by the now-disbanded Council on Financial Assistance Reform and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in June 2014 to facilitate federal and recipient community use of common data standards and implementation of the DATA Act. The CDER library is available at

The Section 5 pilot ended in May and HHS was scheduled under the act to issue recommendations to OMB in June. OMB will submit a comprehensive report to Congress in August with its recommendations based on the findings from the Section 5 pilot.

Michael Peckham, director of HHS’s DATA Act Program Management Office (PMO), recently told attendees at a Data Coalition’s DATA Act Summit in Washington, D.C., that as of June 2017, the CDER library listed 11,842 unique data elements across 220 federal forms, but only 112 data elements had a standard definition. “That’s tiny,” he said.

Peckham discussed some recent updates (Release 2.0) made to the CDER Library. As of May 30, content on the site is now accessible by both public and federal users, a comment feature was added and public users can now sign up with a simple self-registration procedure in order to provide comments on both data elements and forms. Peckham particularly welcomed any public input related to potential data definitions.

“You can provide your comments on what the definitions should be,” he said. “We’re not going out with a formal information request right now; we’re just saying that we have all this information and don’t have it clearly defined. We want more clearly defined data elements … [by] coming to a common agreement on what the standards should be. I think we’ll do it a lot faster if we do it that way than if we go through this alone [at the federal level]. With input from the public and everybody working together, we may be able to get to some common definitions a lot quicker.”

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time on Thompson’s Grants Compliance Expert site.)


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