To provide the Secretary analysis and advice on policy development and assist the development and coordination of department-wide program planning and evaluations.
The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) has three evaluation-related responsibilities: funding or conducting necessary policy and evaluation research; in partnership with others, especially DHHS agencies, planning and carrying out evaluations; and providing oversight and advice to the Secretary regarding evaluation across the Department. ASPE functions as a principal advisor to the Secretary on policy development and, in this capacity, conducts a variety of health and human services evaluation and policy research studies on issues of national importance. ASPE also is responsible for department wide coordination of planning, policy review, and legislative activities. In its evaluation coordination role, ASPE has the following tasks: (1) Provide annual guidance to all DHHS agencies and staff offices regarding evaluation priorities, procedures, and review requirements. (2) Review evaluation priorities proposed by DHHS agencies, providing advice about the focus or method of proposed projects and identifying opportunities for collaboration and effective use of resources. (3) Prepare planning and summary reports on evaluation activities as required by Congress.
Through the departmental evaluation planning process, ASPE has the capacity to identify crosscutting health and human services program or policy issues of particular concern to the Secretary and specific program and policy areas not covered by the DHHS Agency evaluation plans. In these instances, ASPE initiates evaluations or collaborates with the agencies to conduct evaluations or policy assessments.
Another continuing evaluation objective of ASPE is to support and promote the development and improvement of databases that DHHS agencies and ASPE use to evaluate health care programs and health trends. For example, ASPE has been the major initiator, in collaboration with the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of the first comprehensive survey of people with disabilities in the United States. The first component of these new data was completed in FY 1996, and national prevalence data on disability are now available.
The ASPE chairs the Research Coordination Council (RCC), which will evaluate Department-wide research priorities to ensure that efficiencies are realized and research funding priorities are consistent with the Administration’s priorities. The ASPE also co-chairs and provides support to the DHHS Data Council, which is charged with integrating key national surveys, such as linking health status indicators with indicators of well-being.
Finally, ASPE uses evaluation funds to promote effective use of evaluation-generated information in program management and policymaking. The latter is accomplished through the dissemination of evaluation findings and other activities, such as providing technical assistance to agencies in the development of performance measures.