Evaluation activities of the various DHHS agencies are largely supported through two funding mechanisms: direct use of program funds and use of special legislative set-aside authorities for evaluation. The first is a common mechanism by which program managers have discretionary authority to use appropriated program funds to support contracts that will design and implement evaluation studies, and analyze evaluation data. In some cases, a program’s legislative authority calls for a specially mandated evaluation, and program funds are used directly to support the evaluation.
The second mechanism for evaluation funding is the legislative set-aside authority which permits the Secretary of DHHS to use a portion of overall program funds for evaluation purposes. The largest of such set-aside authorities at DHHS is Section 241 of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act for evaluations conducted by several HHS agencies:
- Administration for Children and Families (ACF)
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
In addition, two staff components in the Office of the Secretary receive funds under this authority to carry out evaluations:
- Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE)
- Office of Public Health and Science (OPHS)
This authority was originally established in 1970, when the Congress amended the Act to permit the DHHS Secretary to use up to 1 percent of appropriated funds to evaluate authorized programs. Section 241 limited the base from which funds could be reserved for evaluations to programs authorized by the PHS Act. Excluded were funds appropriated for the Food and Drug Administration, the Indian Health Service, and certain other programs that were managed by PHS agencies but not authorized by the Act (e.g., HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Block Grant and CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health)1. In addition, programs may have other authorized sources of funding for evaluation activities2. Section 206 of Division E of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2004 increased the amount the Secretary could use for evaluation to 2.2 percent.
1 FDA programs are principally authorized by the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and appropriations are provided by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies. IHS programs are principally authorized by the Indian Health Care Improvement Act and the Indian Self- Determination Act; appropriations are provided by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies.
2 The Older Americans Act (OAA) specifies that $1.5 million from Title III, and $1.5 million from Title IV are to be available from its annual appropriations to be used for the evaluation of OAA programs. Since 2000, AoA has used those funds for the Performance Outcome Measures Project and its annual national performance measurement surveys. AoA initiated new evaluation studies of Title III-D Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, and Title III-B Supportive Services in FY 2004 and intends to continue evaluating all OAA titles on a rotating basis in the future.