HHS Chief Information Officer José Arrieta resigned Friday after 16 months on the job, saying that he wanted to spend more time with his children.
Arrieta will continue to serve as CIO temporarily to ensure a smooth leadership transition, he reportedly told HHS Secretary Alex Azar. His office has been under fire since mid-July when HHS announced that it would collect daily COVID-19 information from hospitals instead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The decision led to widespread concerns about the integrity of COVID-19 data reporting, sparking several congressional investigations. Experts worried that public health researchers, federal agencies and others could lose access to critical information about the virus' toll on the nation.
Arrieta said in July that the move should reduce hospitals' reporting burden without forcing them to use new technology. According to HHS guidance, it made sense to centralize data collection because it was taxing for hospitals to report similar information to several government agencies.
"We're actually meeting hospitals technologically where they are from a reporting perspective," Arrieta said in July.
While transparency issues have subsided, some hospitals and public health agencies say the Trump administration botched the new system's rollout. They claim they're getting worse COVID-19 data since the switch, most likely due to bugs in the system. The Missouri Hospital Association and others have said HHS isn't doing a good job defining the data it wants and that hospitals are having trouble adjusting to the new system.
HHS has seen turnover among key information technology staff this year. Former HHS Chief Data Officer Dr. Mona Siddiqui left the agency in January to join insurer Humana. Last month, former HHS Chief Product Officer Todd Simpson went to work for the Veterans Affairs Department.
Jessica Kim Cohen contributed to this story.