Performance Improvement 2007. Appendix B Agency Mission and Evaluation Program Statements


This appendix provides brief statements for each agency or office, of the Department of Health and Human Services, that conducts evaluation activities. The majority received funding this past Fiscal Year under Section 241 of the Public Health Service Act; others, (notably, Administration on Aging,  Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Food and Drug Administration, and the Indian Health Service) expended other discretionary or mandatory program funds on evaluation activities. The statements indicate both the broad mission of each agency or office and the general objectives and focus of its evaluation activities.

Administration for Children and Families


Promote the economic and social well-being of families, children, individuals, and communities.

Evaluation Program

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) administers a broad range of formula and discretionary programs, including family self-sufficiency (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), child support, children and family services (Head Start, Child Welfare, Family Preservation and Support, and youth programs), and special programs for targeted populations, such as the developmentally disabled, refugees, and Native Americans.

ACF’s evaluation objectives are to: furnish information on designing and operating effective programs; test new service delivery approaches capitalizing on the success of completed demonstrations; apply evaluation data to policy development, legislative planning, budget decisions, program management, and strategic planning and performance measures development; and disseminate findings of completed studies and promote application of results by state and local governments.

ACF stays current on emerging issues affecting its programs and identifying questions for evaluation studies by actively engaging other federal agencies, state and local policy and program officials, national organizations, foundations, professional groups and practitioners, and consumers. 

Studies are often funded as joint ventures with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) and other federal agencies and foundations. Such collaborations permit large-scale efforts that are better informed and more representative of varying perspectives. Multidisciplinary experts review proposals. Evaluation study designs are carefully developed in collaboration with project partners and technical experts in order to address specific research questions. Work groups of various kinds are used to monitor the progress of projects and to advise on design refinements and the presentation of findings.

Administration on Aging



Foster the development of services to help older persons maintain their independence.

Evaluation Program

The Administration on Aging (AoA) is the federal focal point and advocate agency for the concerns of older persons. The agency administers key federal programs mandated under various titles of the Older Americans Act. These programs help vulnerable older persons remain in their own homes by providing supportive services. Other programs offer opportunities for older Americans to enhance their health and to be active contributors to their families, communities, and the nation through employment and volunteer programs. AoA works closely with its nationwide network of regional offices and state and area agencies on aging to plan, coordinate, and develop community‑level systems of services that meet the unique needs of individual older persons and their caregivers. AoA collaborates with other federal agencies, national organizations, and representatives of business to ensure that, whenever possible, their programs and resources are targeted to the elderly and coordinated with those of the network on aging. As the responsibilities of this nationwide network of state and area agencies on aging continue to grow, it is essential that they have the necessary information to meet these responsibilities.

The overall evaluation priorities of the AoA are to support studies that provide information on:  (1) Successful program implementation in meeting the goals of the Older Americans Act; (2) Design and operation of effective programs; (3) Issues relevant to policy development, legislative planning, and program management.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality



Improve the quality, safety, efficiency and effectiveness of health care for all Americans.

Evaluation Program

Evaluation activities within the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) provide executive management, program officers and audiences external to the Agency with evaluative findings concerning the Agency’s effectiveness and efficiency in meeting its Government Performance Results Act (GPRA), Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART), and other performance goals.  The work is conducted by external, independent evaluators.  Evaluation components are built into virtually all major AHRQ programmatic or portfolio activities beginning at the design phase.  Among evaluation mechanisms used by the Agency are targeted evaluation studies undertaken through contracts, using a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods, and that tend increasingly to provide more real-time monitoring feedback.  Evaluation activities also include satisfaction feedback from AHRQ customers regarding the usefulness of its research findings and dissemination products. 

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry



Serve the public by using the best science, taking responsible public health actions, and providing trusted health information to prevent harmful exposures and disease related to toxic substances.

Evaluation Program

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), more commonly known as Superfund, created the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) as a federal agency. ATSDR was created to carry out the health‑related sections of CERCLA and other laws that protect the public from hazardous waste and environmental spills of hazardous substances. The ATSDR evaluation program is coordinated with the HHS-wide strategic planning process to carry out requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART), and the President’s Management Agenda (PMA). ATSDR’s strategic goals and its annual performance plan are the result of an interactive process that reflects a long‑term commitment by Agency staff to develop stronger relationships among external clients and stakeholders, to assess products and services using relevant data, and to improve our processes and systems for more efficient accomplishment of its mission.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention



Promote health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability.

Evaluation Program

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducts evaluation studies designed to provide essential information about its programs, goals, and priorities.  These projects support the assessment of CDC’s strategies, which are to protect the health and safety of Americans provide credible information to enhance health decisions, and promote health through strong partnerships.

CDC emphasizes evaluations that advance its health protection goals, answer policy, program, and strategic planning questions related to the goals and objectives of Healthy People 2010.  Performance improvement studies, such as those focusing on the development of key performance indicators consistent with the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) and the Office of Management and Budget’s Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) are of particular interest and import to the Agency.

In addition, CDC supports a variety of activities to enhance evaluation quality, use, and understanding.  An example of one such activity completed during FY2006 was an economic evaluation of various strategies to expand childhood hepatitis A immunization in the U.S.  The data from this project were pivotal in the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices' decision to extend hepatitis A immunization nationwide.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services



Assure health care security for beneficiaries.

Evaluation Program


The research arm of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Office of Research, Development, and Information (ORDI), performs and supports research and evaluations of demonstrations (through intramural studies, contracts and grants) to develop and carry out new health care financing policies and provide information on the impact of CMS’ programs.  ORDI’s activities embrace all areas of health care: costs, access, quality, service delivery models, and financing.  ORDI’s responsibilities include evaluations of ongoing Medicare and Medicaid programs and demonstration projects testing new health care financing and delivery approaches. Examples of research themes include state program flexibility, the future of Medicare, provider payment and delivery, and vulnerable populations and dual-eligibles.

Food and Drug Administration




To protect the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation; to advance public health by helping to speed innovations that make medicines and foods more effective, safer, and affordable; and helping the public get the accurate, science-based information they need to use medicines and foods to improve their health.


Evaluation Program

The Office of Planning’s Evaluation Staff plays an integral role in carrying out the FDA’s mission. Assessing various aspects of Agency program performance allows staff to identify means of improving that performance. The Food and Drug Administration evaluation function has three goals: 1) provide information on FDA programs that helps Agency officials, the Department, and members of Congress make decisions related to programs, policies, budgets, and strategic planning; 2) help FDA managers improve program operations and performance; and 3) disseminate evaluation results and methodological tools useful to FDA program managers and, in some cases, to the larger public health community.

Evaluation in FDA can be defined as the assessment of the performance (efficiency, effectiveness, and responsiveness) of FDA programs or strategies through the analysis of data or information collected and the effective use of the resulting information. Evaluation activities serve one or more of the following purposes:

  • Program evaluation
  • Performance measurement
  • Environmental assessment
  • Process assessment

Health Resources and Services Administration



Provide national leadership, program resources and services needed to improve access to culturally competent, quality health care.

Evaluation Program

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) supports a wide array of very different programs and activities that promote access to needed health care for all, including primary health care centers, the National Health Service Corps, HIV/AIDS programs, maternal and child health activities, health professions training, rural health programs, organ donation and transplantation initiatives, and telehealth activities.  To provide underpinning for these efforts, HRSA’s evaluation program is designed to enhance strategic planning, strengthen budget and legislative development, and improve program performance.

Indian Health Service



In partnership with American Indian and Alaska Native people, raise their physical, mental, social, and spiritual health to the highest level.

Evaluation Program

The goal of the Indian Health Service (IHS) is to assure that comprehensive, culturally acceptable, personal and public health services are available and accessible to American Indian and Alaska Native people. The importance of evaluation in supporting this goal has increased significantly in recent years and includes American Indians and Alaska Natives as the primary stakeholders in defining the purpose, design, and execution of evaluations. The stakeholders use the end product of the evaluations, and are the population or groups most likely to be affected by the findings. The IHS has formally adopted the principle of a responsive evaluation practice to address the needs and concerns of Native Americans and Alaska Natives.

Each year IHS selects high‑priority health care and management studies for funding through the submission of proposals to headquarters and Area Offices. These proposals are reviewed and rated by a panel of subject‑matter experts, evaluation experts, and IHS staff for concurrence with IHS strategic goals, objectives, and priority areas. The proposals are then prioritized and forwarded to the IHS Director, who reviews the projects that are recommended for funding and determines the respective funding levels.

The evaluation needs of the IHS service components are coordinated using two major types of short‑term studies: policy assessments and program evaluations. Policy assessments contribute to decision making about budget, legislation, and program modifications including information to support the Agency’s initiatives. Evaluations are focused at the program level, or Area Offices, and focus on specific needs.

The evaluation program of the IHS is managed by the Office of Public Health Support, Staff Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Research, which provides national leadership and consultation for IHS and Area Offices on strategic and tactical planning, program evaluation and assessment, public health and medical services, research agendas, and special public health initiatives for the Agency.

National Institutes of Health



Uncover new knowledge that will lead to better health for everyone.

Evaluation Program

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) pursue new knowledge about the prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment of disease and disability.  To that end, NIH has a wide range of programs to support health-related research and training and professional development.  Evaluating these numerous and diverse programs is one important tool that NIH administrators use to determine the extent to which these programs are operating efficiently and achieving their intended outcomes.

NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) and components within the Office of the Director (OD), NIH, use program evaluations and evaluation-related activities to improve decision-making and, ultimately, enhance program performance.  Many NIH activities are crosscutting in nature and require trans-NIH program evaluations (i.e., program evaluations that involve more than one IC or OD office) to be examined effectively.  Program evaluations are professional systematic investigations or studies that evaluate the merit of particular programs, or contribute to making such an evaluation possible.  In most cases, the purpose of program evaluations is to help NIH administrators improve a program or make other programmatic decisions (e.g., how to allocate resources).  A “program” is broadly defined as any set of activities funded by the NIH to achieve one or more predefined goals (also referred to as “program goals”).

The NIH recognizes that results-based management as a basic principle for the sound and productive operation of government agencies and their programs.  The most notable evidence of this is passage of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), and the use of the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART).  With additional efforts to increase public sector accountability (such as passage of the Chief Financial Officers Act and the Government Management Reform Act), interest in evaluation has increased steadily among program administrators.

A distinguishing feature of the NIH Evaluation Program is its position within a larger institutional framework of several evaluation strategies including the use of national advisory councils, boards of scientific counselors, consensus development conferences, and ad hoc committees. This framework helps to chart scientific directions and select the most promising research to support.

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation



Provide the Secretary analyses and advice for policy development, and help the development and coordination of department-wide program planning and evaluations.

Evaluation Program

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 HHS 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 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 HHS agencies and staff offices regarding evaluation priorities, procedures, and review requirements. (2) Review evaluation priorities proposed by HHS 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 HHS 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 HHS agencies and ASPE use to evaluate health care programs and health trends. ASPE  co-chairs and provides support to the HHS 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.

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Resources and Technology


The mission of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Resources and Technology (ASRT) is to provide advice and guidance to the Secretary on budget, financial management, and information technology, and grants management and to provide for the direction and coordination of these activities throughout the Department.


Evaluation Program

ASRT systematically evaluates the effectiveness of HHS programs and strategies, including examination of program purpose and design, strategic planning systems, program management, and program results.  ASRT also oversees the development of the HHS annual performance plans and reports pursuant to the requirements of the Government Performance Results Act (GPRA).

Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology


The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) provides counsel to the Secretary of HHS and Departmental leadership for the development and nationwide implementation of an interoperable health information technology infrastructure. Use of this infrastructure will improve the quality, safety and efficiency of health care and the ability of consumers to manage their health information and health care.

Evaluation Program

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is engaged in funding research and programs to foster the development of interoperable nation-wide health information exchange. Initiatives are being funded to harmonize standards for interoperability, certify electronic health record systems, evaluate the variation of organization-level business practices, policies, and state law that relate to privacy and security, and develop best practices and consensus-based policies for health information exchange.  

Office of Public Health and Science



Provide advice to the Secretary on public health and science, provide executive direction to program offices within the Office of Public Health and Science, and, at the Secretary’s direction, coordinate crosscutting public health and science initiatives in the Department.

Evaluation Program

The Office of Public Health and Science (OPHS) provides advice, policy and program coordination, and leadership in the implementation, management, and development of activities related to public health and science, as directed by the Secretary.  OPHS helps HHS conduct broad‑based public health assessments to better address and solve public health problems.  It assists other components of HHS in anticipating future public health issues and helps ensure that HHS designs and carries out appropriate approaches, interventions, and evaluations that will maintain, sustain, and improve the health of the Nation. OPHS provides leadership and policy recommendations on population‑based public health and science and, at the Secretary’s direction, leads or coordinates initiatives that cut across agencies and operating divisions. In addition, OPHS communicates and interacts, on behalf of the Secretary, with professional and constituency organizations on matters of public health and science. Finally, OPHS’ unique role allows it to use its resources to link important HHS programs or fill gaps in areas needing better policy formulation and coordination.

OPHS’ evaluation strategy focuses on public health and science issues that cut across multiple interests of the operating divisions and requires a coordinated approach to achieve the most effective results.  OPHS evaluations support the Assistant Secretary for Health as the Secretary’s senior advisor for public health and science.  OPHS also conducts evaluations specific to the needs of the programs operated from the offices located within OPHS, such as women’s health, minority health, disease prevention and health promotion, and research integrity.  Some evaluation funds are made available to the ten HHS Regional Health Administrators.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration



Build resilience and facilitate recovery for people with, or at risk for, substance abuse and mental illness.

Evaluation Program

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) conducts evaluations to ensure accountability for federal funds and to measure results toward its programmatic and policy objectives.  In compliance with the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), SAMHSA is improving performance management and results by identifying annual, long-term and cost-efficiency performance measures to manage its programs.

SAMHSA has an combined evaluation and planning process.  Strategic planning identifies priorities that drive the development of grant programs and evaluations. The formulation of programmatic and evaluation priorities includes consultation with SAMHSA Center Advisory Councils, with other HHS agencies, and with experts in the fields of evaluation and service delivery.  Early and continuous coordination of program planning and evaluation design results in the articulation of program objectives that may be evaluated. Evaluations measure achievement of grant programs overall objectives, and these results are used for program and policy development. The strategic planning and policy development processes then use these results to refine SAMHSA’s priorities and performance objectives.

The specific type of evaluation required depends on the type and purpose of the particular grant program. To the greatest extent possible, SAMHSA encourages the use of comparable data elements and instruments across its evaluations to carry out a comprehensive evaluation system and to minimize respondent burden.  Efforts to improve evaluation are continuing and SAMHSA is committed to using systematic approaches in using data to accomplish its mission.


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