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Office of Research Oversight


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Our Mission

The Office of Research Oversight (ORO) is dedicated to promoting the responsible conduct of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) research for the protection of Veterans and others who volunteer in VA research, and for the benefit of all Veterans whose health and well-being are improved by the discoveries made through a sound and ethically grounded VA research program.  ORO monitors, reviews, and investigates matters of research compliance that involve VA research.  Specifically, ORO provides oversight of compliance with VA and other Federal requirements for the protection of human research subjects, laboratory animal welfare, research safety, research laboratory security, research information security, and research misconduct.  ORO also provides training to facility Research Compliance Officers (RCO) and oversight of RCO auditing programs.

The creation of an "Office of Research Oversight" within the Veterans Health Administration was mandated under legislation signed by the President on December 6, 2003, as Public Law 108-170.  Per the statute, ORO reports directly to the Under Secretary for Health and serves as the primary VHA office for advising the Under Secretary on matters of research compliance.  The statute further provides that ORO shall function independently of entities within the Veterans Health Administration with responsibility for the conduct of medical research programs.

Carrying Out Our Mission

On March 1, 2016, ORO transformed its operations and structure to position itself to address facility-specific and system-wide research noncompliance more efficiently and effectively.

  • ORO redesigned its onsite review program around regularly scheduled Combined Program Reviews (CPRs) that provide high-level, integrated reviews of facility research oversight programs. These reviews typically involve assessments of a facility’s Human Research Protection Program, Research Information Security Program, and Research & Development Committee and general research administration operations; depending on the type of research conducted at the facility and other factors, CPRs may also involve assessments of a facility’s Animal Care and Use Program and/or Research Safety & Security Program. ORO has also introduced on-site Focused Reviews, which are narrower in scope than CPRs and focus on individual facility research program oversight areas and/or specific issues for review. ORO’s decision to conduct a Focused Review, and the scope of the review, are guided by: the size and/or complexity of a facility’s research portfolio; specific issues of concern identified by ORO in an earlier CPR or through other mechanisms (e.g., reports of noncompliance); known VHA-wide research compliance issues that might also be of relevance at a given facility; and/or other factors.

  • As part of its transformation, ORO transitioned away from a Regional Office organizational structure, and realigned teams into subject matter workgroups specializing in each of ORO's areas of responsibility and a new Comprehensive Research Oversight Workgroup.

How to File a Complaint About VA Research

Complaints related to VA research can often be resolved by contacting the VA Medical Center conducting the research.

When direct contact with the Medical Center is not desired, complaints related to the protection of human research subjects may be directed to ORO by contacting the Human Research Protection Program at  Complaints related to research information security, research safety and security, or laboratory animal welfare should be directed to the group responsible for oversight in those areas by emailing the relevant group (click here).
Specific allegations related to fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism (“research misconduct”) should be presented to the Research Integrity Officer (RIO) at the VA Medical Center conducting the research. When direct contact with the Medical Center is not desired, research misconduct complaints may be directed to ORO Central Office at 202-632-7688.  Click here for more information on research misconduct.

ORO does its best to honor the confidentiality of persons who file complaints about VA research.

Persons who do not wish to identify themselves and would rather remain ANONYMOUS may call ORO’s toll-free COMPLAINT LINE at 1-877-343-6562.

Please provide as much information as possible when calling the Complaint Line.  ORO may not be able to follow-up effectively without sufficient information.
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