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Leadership Jobs Finally Filled, ORI Seeks Input on Sequestering Digital Evidence

With the recent appointment of an HHS leader as its permanent director and a former Johns Hopkins misconduct official to another key post, the HHS Office of Research Integrity (ORI) has a full complement of permanent leaders for the first time since 2016.

ORI, which provides education and enforces research misconduct regulations, is responsible for ensuring that the billions of dollars in research funded by the Public Health Service (PHS), including that supported by NIH, is free of fabrication, falsification and plagiarism. ORI has two divisions: the Division of Investigative Oversight (DIO) and the Division of Education and Integrity (DEI). The leadership level is rounded out by a deputy director.

In addition to the recent appointments, ORI has seen a slight uptick in activity of late, releasing its second misconduct finding of the year on May 11, but this pace still puts it far behind its historical output. Additionally, ORI published a request for information (RFI) in April in preparation for guidance it intends to issue within a few months.[1]

The new appointments may bring stability to a pivotal agency that has been wracked by internal discord and personnel departures beginning nearly a decade ago, with the director and education division posts particularly difficult to keep filled. In January 2019, all four of the leadership positions were either vacant or being held by officials in acting or interim capacities.[2]

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