HHS agencies, ASPE, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), and OPHS develop evaluation plans annually in concert with HHS program planning, legislative development, and budgeting cycles. Plan development is coordinated by ASPE. Each agency or office evaluation plan generally states the evaluation priorities, or projects under consideration for implementation. Typically, HHS evaluation priorities include: congressionally-mandated program evaluations, evaluations of Secretarial program or policy initiatives, assessments of new programs and ones that are candidates for reauthorization, and evaluations that support program performance management and accountability.
HHS evaluation planning activities are coordinated with three department-wide planning initiatives. First, HHS evaluation activities support the Department’s strategic planning and performance management activities in several ways. Completed evaluation studies are used in shaping the specific HHS strategic goals and objectives. Evaluation findings provide important sources of information and evidence about the success of various HHS programs or policies. The HHS Strategic Plan highlights evaluations that document efficacy or effectiveness of strategic programs or policies and lists future evaluations that will benefit strategic planning. HHS agencies use findings from their evaluations to support the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) annual performance reporting to Congress and program budget justifications.
Second, Congress requests that HHS coordinate and report to Congress regarding all of its research, demonstration, and evaluation (RD&E) programs to ensure that the results of these projects address HHS program goals and objectives. ASPE and the Assistant Secretary for Budget, Technology and Finance work together with HHS agencies to provide the Congress with a special annual research, demonstration, and evaluation budget plan that coincides with the preparation of the President’s fiscal year budget. The plan outlines HHS agency research, demonstration, and evaluation priorities as related to the Department’s strategic goals and objectives (Figure 4, Evaluation Reporting Cycle).
Evaluation Reporting Cycle
The Secretarially-created Research Coordination Council (chaired by the ASPE, and containing representatives of HHS agencies) fosters greater interactions among the research programs. The Council’s work includes streamlining research and evaluating Department-wide research priorities to ensure greater efficiencies in research, demonstration, and evaluation. The Council seeks to strengthen HHS research coordination and planning around key Departmental priorities and themes.
Third, the Secretary must report to the Congress his plan for using PHS evaluation set-aside funds before implementing the plan (Figure 4). Those agencies and offices that use the PHS evaluation set-aside authority—ACF, AHRQ, CDC, HRSA, NIH, ASPE, OPHS, SAMHSA—submit a formal plan to ASPE, which coordinates and develops the individual plans into the HHS report to the Congress on the use of the PHS authority.