MISSION: To generate and disseminate information that improves the health care system.
The Evaluation Program within the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) 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 AHRQ 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 AHRQ research efforts, including such mechanisms as focus groups and surveys; and feedback from AHRQ's User Liaison program (which provides information and technical assistance to State policymakers, health departments, and officials). Information gathered from AHRQ's evaluation-related activities are 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 senior managers. Those proposals approved by senior managers are submitted for review by the director. The director evaluates proposals for policy relevance, priority, cost effectiveness, and timeliness. Those that receive the approval of the director are then methodologically developed and centrally reviewed for technical merit, including technical feasibility, costs, and relation to ongoing evaluation activities.