The mark of an “academic health department” includes shared activity by academic and practice partners sustained over time. Despite a long history of productive interactivity, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health often faced administrative hurdles in contracting for projects of mutual interest. Seeking to overcome these hurdles, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health negotiated a Master Agreement on the basis of statutes designating both as “public procurement units.” This provided a template for project specifications, standard financial terms, and a contracting process. Since taking effect, the Master Agreement has supported projects in policy development, capacity building, workforce development, program evaluation, data analysis, and program planning. This experience suggests an approach potentially useful for other states and localities seeking to solidify academic health department partnerships either envisioned for the future or already in place.
This article describes an academic health department, a practice-academic partnership, formalized under a Master Agreement grounded in state procurement law. It also provides examples of its use over a 2-year period along with its benefits and challenges.
Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Drs Huber, Alsahlani and Potter, Mr Barron, and Ms Duchak); and Department of Health, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg (Mr Raniowski).
Correspondence: Margaret A. Potter, JD, MS, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, A728 Crabtree Hall, 130 DeSato St, Pittsburgh, PA 15261 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.