Performance Improvement 1997. HHS Evaluation Activities


HHS defines evaluation as the assessment of program performance (efficiency, effectiveness, and responsiveness) through the analysis of data or information collected systematically and ethically, and the effective use of resulting information in program or policy decision making and program management. This definition encompasses a range of evaluation activities that include the full spectrum of evaluation methodologies developed over the last quarter century. The classification of HHS evaluation activities presented in figure I-1 summarizes that diversity.

Figure I-1. Range of HHS Evaluation Activities

Evaluation projects

  1. Outcome evaluations: assessing the immediate or intermediate effects of a program with respect to the stated goals or objectives
  2. Impact evaluations: assessing the broader results, intended or unintended, of a program on populations or institutions involved
  3. Implementation or process evaluations: assessing the nature of program inputs and outputs and their relationship to stated goals and obectives
  4. Policy assessments: examining health policies with respect to their development, implementation, or impact on public health or program activities
  5. Cost-benefit or cost-effectiveness analyses: developing methodology and its application to assess the relationship of program results to program costs (direct and indirect), often in comparison with alternative programs
  6. Survey data analyses: evaluating the results of HHS programs or policies by analyzing data obtained from surveys
  7. Performance measurement and data systems: identifying and testing the validity and reliability of process, output, and outcome indicators to measure the performance of programs and develop data systems supporting implementation of the Government Performance and Results Act
  8. Simulations and models: using computer simulations and modeling techniques to analyze the impact of policy changes on service delivery systems and beneficiaries
  9. Management studies: examining the effectiveness or efficiency of the administration or operation of HHS programs and offices
  10. Evaluation syntheses: integrating the results from multiple independent evaluation studies within a defined program or policy area in a fashion that improves the accessibility and application of those results

Methodology projects

  1. Evaluation feasibility studies: assessing the clarity and importance of program goals and objectives, the consensus of program stakeholders on the potential utility of evaluation information, and the availability of relevant performance data before committing to a full-scale program evaluation
  2. Evaluation design projects: procuring assistance in the development of an evaluation design, measurement tool, or analytic model in preparation for fully implementing an evaluation
  3. Instrument development projects: developing evaluation instruments (design, measurement, or analytic) for a specific HHS program or for general use by the health and human services community

Evaluation support activities

  1. Evaluation technical assistance: providing assistance to HHS program managers or office directors on any aspect of evaluation planning, project design-implementation-analysis, or use of results
  2. Evaluation dissemination: identifying target audiences and mechanisms to inform program constituencies and evaluation stakeholders about evaluation results
  3. Evaluation training/conferences: maintaining the professional skills and expertise of evaluation staff through training opportunities, as well as promoting the dissemination of HHS evaluations through symposia