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Advocacy & Resources

OPTN Modernization Initiative

Independent OPTN Board of Directors

Read the letter HRSA issued regarding their plan for continuity of operations and initial steps towards an independent OPTN Board of Directors.

All additional updates can be found on the HRSA OPTN Modernization website.

The OPTN and UNOS Board split, effective March 30. This now begins a transition time as HRSA works on sending out official RFPs. HRSA is supporting the creation of a separate legal entity to serve as the OPTN, with its own independent Board of Directors, to facilitate independent, transparent, and accountable OPTN governance. This entity will be independent of the current OPTN contractor and future OPTN contractors. At the moment, HRSA is working with the current OPTN Board of Directors—independent of the current OPTN contractors—to establish this separate entity and designate it as the OPTN, as required by NOTA, the Final Rule, and the Securing the U.S. OPTN Act.

HRSA is anticipating this transitional period to last 90 days, and both HRSA and the current OPTN contractor have agreed to create an Interim Transition OPTN Board of Directors. The interim Board is currently effective, separating the current 42 member OPTN Board and activities from the current OPTN contractor’s Board of seven individuals. During this time, the OPTN Board will continue to be covered by the current liability protections provided by the OPTN contractor.

This transitional board arrangement will be time-limited until the new legal entity is established, designated and insured, at which time the full transition to the new, independent entity will take place. As described in HRSA’s Board Support Transition Contract RFP, the OPTN Board of Directors will soon be supported by a new Board Support contractor to provide governance expertise and logistical services to support the OPTN Board of Directors as they create transparent and equitable organ procurement and transplantation policy. HRSA is taking the crucial step to set up a separate OPTN entity now, prior to awarding the Board Support and Transition Operations.

How ASTS is supporting the OPTN Modernization Initiative

  • ASTS formed a Work Group dedicated to the Modernization Initiative. This group includes members from diverse backgrounds and experiences, including former presidents of ASTS and UNOS, and those familiar with HRSA and the history of UNOS. The Work Group has drafted a Statement of Principles on the new OPTN structure. This set of principles has been shared with HRSA to take into consideration as they progress through their action plan. Additionally, an Executive Summary has been drafted for interactions with key decisionmakers.
  • ASTS has met with both the change management group and representatives of HRSA on four separate occasions since June 2023 to foster an open dialogue and ensure our voice is heard during this process. HRSA is committed to working with the leadership of ASTS and we believe we are well positioned to help navigate this important process in partnership with all the key stakeholders.
  • Members of ASTS leadership and the Work Group participated in HRSA’s OPTN Industry Days. This assisted in gaining an understanding of how multiple contracts and vendors will collaborate, and how stakeholders like ASTS can be part of the solution.

    ASTS Response to the HRSA Modernization Initiative
    (March 24, 2023)

    ASTS looks forward to working with HRSA and is supportive of changes to organ transplantation and donation to best serve transplant recipients, organ donors, their families, and the surgeons, physicians, and transplant teams who care for them. Given the complexity and breadth of this endeavor, we especially appreciate that HRSA said it will work in close coordination with all stakeholders, and we commit to helping them in an iterative and well-informed process. We strongly believe that any changes to the system must carefully weigh the impact of any changes addressed well in advance of implementing those changes. We also urge HHS to take this opportunity to coordinate the efforts of all agencies within the department to significantly increase access to transplantation and to address existing disparities.