The National Institutes of Health (NIH) generates scientific knowledge that leads to improved health. This is done by conducting medical research in its intramural laboratories and by supporting research in universities, medical and health professional schools, and other health research organizations. NIH fosters the widespread dissemination of the results of medical research, facilitates the training of research investigators, and ensures the viability of the research infrastructure. The NIH Evaluation Program is an integral part of how NIH sponsors and conducts medical research.
Results based management is recognized as a basic principle for the sound and productive operation of government agencies and their programs. This is evidenced most notably by passage of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) and by the considerable effort across the federal government to implement results based management mechanisms. With GPRA and other initiatives aimed at increasing public sector accountability (such as the Chief Financial Officers Act and the Government Management Reform Act), interest in the use of evaluation has increased steadily among NIH administrators and others, such as officials within the General Accounting Office, the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Health and Human Services.