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News Update

Friday, October 28, 2011

Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee to Continue into 2014; HHS Seeks Nominations for Public Membership

On September 30, 2011, President Obama signed the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA) into law, ensuring that all vital Federal autism research and services programs would continue without disruption and allowing the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) to carry on its work until 2014. The legislation, Public Law 112-32 (PDF – 119 KB), sponsored by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) in the Senate and Congressmen Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA) in the House of Representatives, reauthorizes ongoing efforts related to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) across agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and in collaboration with other Federal agencies. In addition to continuation of the IACC, these efforts include biomedical and services research, surveillance activities to determine national prevalence, and programs to promote early diagnosis and intervention.

"As we mark another success with this signing, President Obama and I know firsthand that for people on the autism spectrum and their loved ones, thinking about autism does not stop today," wrote Deputy Assistant to the President Michael Strautmanis on the White House Blog. Strautmanis, who has a school-aged son with autism spoke of "remain[ing] committed and focused so that tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that, we'll continue to do better."

The reauthorization of the IACC, which was scheduled to sunset on September 30, allows the committee to continue its work to advance autism research and improve services by coordinating efforts both within the Federal government and between government agencies and private organizations. The committee is also charged with providing advice to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius regarding Federal activities related to ASD.

"I look forward to continuing the work of the IACC," said Dr. Thomas Insel, IACC Chairman and Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, "The committee's dedication, focus, and collaborative spirit have accomplished much over these past 4 years. There is still much more to be done as the committee begins its next chapter."

First organized under the Children's Health Act, and reconstituted under the Combating Autism Act of 2006 (PDF – 48.6 KB), the IACC has largely been praised for its efforts and has been commended by members of Congress as a successful model for future coordinating committees in other disease areas.

Under the reauthorization, the committee will continue to produce its annual Strategic Plan for ASD Research outlining priorities in the research field, the Summary of Advances highlighting the most important new research, and the ASD Research Portfolio Analysis, which gives a detailed look at the funding landscape. The committee will continue to include a diverse group of members representing federal agencies, national advocacy organizations, individuals on the spectrum, and family members; however, the committee's public membership will change under the reauthorization.

Nominations for public members to serve on the IACC under CARA are currently being accepted. Those eligible for nomination include leaders or representatives of major autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research, advocacy and service organizations, parents or guardians of individuals with ASD, individuals on the autism spectrum, providers, educators, researchers and other individuals with professional or personal experience with ASD. Nominations of new public members are encouraged, but current members may also be re-nominated to continue to serve. Please visit the IACC website for more information on the nomination process and requirements.

Nominations will be accepted from October 28, 2011 until November 30, 2011. Secretary Sebelius will make the final selections and appointments of public members to the committee. Following the completion of the appointment process, the committee will reconvene in 2012.

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The IACC is a Federal advisory committee that was created by Congress in an effort to accelerate progress in ASD research and services. The IACC works to improve coordination and communication across the Federal government and work in partnership with the autism community. The Committee is composed of officials from many different Federal agencies involved in autism research and services, as well as people with ASD, parents, advocates, and other members of the autism community. The documents and recommendations produced by the IACC reflect the views of the Committee as an independent advisory body and the expertise of the members of the Committee, but do not represent the views, official statements, policies or positions of the Federal government.  For more information on the IACC, please visit: www.iacc.hhs.gov.

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