Most evaluation projects are developed at the program or office level. A committee of agency- or office- level policy and planning staff members generally conducts the initial quality review. Before a project is approved, a second committee reviews it for technical quality 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 HHS agencies have external evaluation review committees composed of evaluation experts from universities and research centers.
Since HHS 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 HHS evaluation officers on the strengths and challenges of ensuring quality evaluation studies. HHS evaluation officers have had opportunities to discuss these strengths and challenges and identify steps to improve agency evaluation projects.