Performance Improvement 1998. Chapter II. Highlights of Selected Evaluations Completed During Fiscal Year 1997


In this Chapter, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) highlights evaluations of general interest to the public health, health care services, and human services community and illustrates the diversity of HHS evaluations completed in fiscal year (FY) 1997. Included are summaries of 9 evaluation projects selected by the Evaluation Review Panel--on the basis of criteria identified in Appendix C--and applied to 28 reports nominated by HHS agencies. These criteria are as follows:

  • Is the report important? Does it address a significant issue or problem for which evaluation would help confirm or change program direction, or measure program impact? Are the findings likely to be useful and generalizable?
  • Is the report methodologically sound? Are its concepts, designs, data collection, and analyses conducted and reported in a competent manner?
  • Is the report faithful to the data? Do the conclusions and recommendations logically follow from the data and analyses, and are they relevant to the questions asked?

The nine studies are organized under three headings: performance measurement or assessment, program management and development, and policy analysis and development. These headings represent the three most common uses of HHS evaluation resources. Performance measurement or assessment is a high priority for HHS agencies as the development, implementation, and refinement of programs are more results oriented in the 1990's and are required under the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993. Program management and development reflects the kind of evaluation projects that program managers initiate to obtain information or data that will help them manage a program efficiently and ensure successful results. Policy analysis and development includes the evaluation projects conducted by HHS agencies to examine the impact of alternative policies, either in the past or in the future, on the future direction of HHS programs or services.

Each summary includes a brief abstract; a description of the study, including its purpose, background, methods, findings, and use of results; the names of any publications that resulted; and the name and phone number of the HHS official to contact for additional information.