The Obameter

Direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct a study of federal cancer initiatives

"As president, Barack Obama will immediately direct his Secretary of Health and Human Services, in collaboration with agency officials, academic researchers, cancer survivors and advocates for people with cancer, and state public health officials, to comprehensively examine the various cancer-related efforts of federal agencies, and provide recommendations to eliminate barriers to effective coordination across federal agencies and between the federal government and other stakeholders."


Cancer Moonshot takes steps to unify federal agencies

In his 2008 campaign, President Barack Obama promised to direct the secretary of the Health and Human Services Department to "comprehensively examine the various cancer-related efforts of federal agencies" in order to come up with ways agencies can better coordinate their work.

Although Obama has certainly pushed for more cancer-related initiatives both public and private over his eight years, we couldn't find the specific review of federal agency work that Obama called for.

A Health and Human Services spokesman sent us a 2010 white paper from Obama's Cancer Panel titled, "Tearing down the silos: Addressing systemic barriers in the research process."

This five-page paper isn't itself a review of federal agencies' cancer efforts, though it identifies some of the coordination challenges agencies face. It makes a recommendation that word-for-word copies part of Obama's promise — "comprehensively examine the various cancerÔÇÉrelated efforts of federal agencies and the silos that exist amongst and between them."

In January 2016, Obama announced that Vice President Joe Biden would lead the Cancer Moonshot, a program with the goal of accelerating cancer research.

As part of the effort, Biden said he would focus on removing bureaucracy and bringing together every federal agency that has cancer-related programs. The related Cancer Moonshot Task Force established an interagency working group of numerous government agencies that meets bi-weekly. The task force published an initial report in October outlining some proposals for better facilitating cancer research, both public and private, and improving patient care.

While we didn't find a specific review of the federal agencies' cancer-related programs, the Cancer Moonshot program is an effort by Obama to create more coordination among federal agencies working on preventing, treating and curing cancer. We rate this a Compromise.


Email interview, Health and Human Services spokesman Bill Hall, Dec. 22, 2016

Search, President's Cancer Panel site, conducted Dec. 21, 2016

Search,, conducted Dec. 22, 2016

Cancer Moonshot, Report of the Cancer Moonshot Task Force, Oct. 17, 2016

Health and Human Services, "Tearing down the silos: Addressing systemic barriers in the research process," Dec. 14, 2010

No comprehensive study launched on federal cancer efforts

We looked for a comprehensive study of federal agencies and their efforts at fighting cancer, but couldn't find anything on it. We have noted that Obama has significantly increased funding for cancer research; we rated Promise No. 84, Double federal funding for cancer research , as In the Works.

We consulted with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the nonprofit American Cancer Society, but no one could point us to evidence that this promise is being fulfilled.

This promise said Obama would "immediately" direct the secretary to examine cancer-related efforts. The secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, was confirmed in April.

If a study begins later, this promise might merit a Compromise rating. But for now, because it was promised "immediately," it's Promise Broken.


Various searches of databases that yielded no results

U.S. Department of Health Human Services

The American Cancer Society