The Evaluation Program within the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) provides information on the Agency's effectiveness in meeting its long-term goals and priorities, the efficiency of the Agency's program performance through internal evaluations, and critical Agency and departmental concerns via "fast-track" or quick-turnaround assessments.
Evaluation components are built into virtually all major AHCPR programmatic activities and a wide variety of "freestanding" projects are undertaken as needs are identified. Among the evaluation mechanisms used by the Agency are targeted evaluation studies undertaken through contracts or grants; efforts to obtain feedback from "customers" on the usefulness of AHCPR research efforts, including such mechanisms as focus groups and surveys; and feedback from AHCPR's User Liaison program (which provides information and technical assistance to State policymakers, health departments, and officials). Information gathered from AHCPR's evaluation-related activities will be used in the annual performance plans developed in response to the Government Performance and Results Act starting in FY 1999.
All "freestanding" evaluation activities undergo two levels of review. First, brief evaluation proposals are developed by staff and undergo review by affected senior managers. Those proposals approved by senior managers are submitted for review by the administrator. The administrator evaluates proposals for policy relevance, priority, cost effectiveness, and timeliness. Those that receive the administrator's approval are then methodologically developed and centrally reviewed for technical merit, including technical feasibility, costs, and relation to ongoing evaluation activities.