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Lauren Carroll
By Lauren Carroll December 22, 2016

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 cancer‐related 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.

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Angie Drobnic Holan
By Angie Drobnic Holan December 9, 2009

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.

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