Evaluation plays an integral role in carrying out the HHS mission. Assessing various aspects of agency program performance allows staff to identify means of improving that performance. The HHS evaluation function has three goals: (1) to provide information on HHS programs that helps government officials and members of the Congress make decisions related to programs, policies, budgets, and strategic planning; (1) to help HHS managers improve program operations and performance; and (3) to disseminate evaluation results and methodological tools useful to the larger health and human services community of state and local officials, researchers, advocates, and practitioners for improving the performance of their programs.
For HHS, evaluation is the assessment of the performance (efficiency, effectiveness, and responsiveness) of HHS programs or strategies through the analysis of data or information collected systematically and ethically, and the effective use of resulting information in strategic planning, program or policy decision making and program improvement. As mentioned in the foreword of this report, evaluations serve one or more of the following:
- Program effectiveness determines the impact of HHS programs on achieving intended goals and objectives.
- Performance measurement monitors annual progress in achieving departmental strategic and performance goals. To support performance measurement, we are investing evaluation funds to develop and improve performance measurement systems and the quality of the data that supports those systems.
- Environmental assessment seeks to understand the forces of change in the health and human services environment that influence the success of our programs and the achievement of our goals and objectives. Such understanding allows us to adjust our strategies and continue to deliver effective health and human services.
- Program management reflects the need of program managers to obtain information or data helpful for designing and managing programs. These evaluations generally focus on developmental or operational aspects of program activities and provide understanding of services delivered and populations served.