Most evaluation projects are developed at the program or office level. The initial quality review is generally conducted by a committee of agency- or office-level policy and planning staff members. Before a project is approved, it is reviewed for technical quality by a second committee with expertise in evaluation methodology. Technical review committees follow a set of criteria for quality evaluation practice established by each agency. ASPE, for example, has a formalized peer review process in which experienced evaluators on staff review, discuss and approve all proposed research projects before they are submitted for funding. Some DHHS agencies have external evaluation review committees composed of evaluation experts from universities and research centers.
Since DHHS began reporting to Congress in 1995 on completed evaluations through the Performance Improvement report series, the Department has focused attention on improving the quality of evaluation studies performed. An Evaluation Review Panel, convened periodically, has contributed insights to DHHS evaluation officers on the strengths and challenges of ensuring quality evaluation studies. DHHS evaluation officers have had opportunities to discuss these strengths and challenges and identify steps to improve agency evaluation projects. Evaluation Officers meet regularly to collaborate regarding evaluation-related activities and to share information regarding evaluation projects planned or under way.