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) 1998. Included are summaries of eight evaluation projects selected by the HHS Evaluation Review Panel, a group of outside evaluation experts. The Panel reviewed 24 reports nominated by HHS agencies and selected the reports to be highlighted in this chapter on the basis of the following criteria:
- Is the report important? Does it address a significant issue or problem for which evaluation would 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 eight studies are organized under three headings: program effectiveness evaluations, performance measurement, and environmental assessment. These headings represent the four most common uses of HHS evaluation resources. Program effectiveness evaluation provides a way to determine the impact of the Department's programs on achieving intended goals and objectives. Performance measurement is the primary mechanism used to monitor annual progress in achieving departmental strategic and performance goals and determine the effectiveness of program strategies or specific program activities in achieving those goals.Environmental assessment is the way we understand the forces of change in the health and human services environment that will influence the success of our programs and the achievement of our goals and objectives.
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.