Performance Improvement 2008. Chapter I - Highlights of Findings from Completed Evaluations

01/01/2008

This chapter presents highlights from the studies included in this report. These selections exemplify the breadth of evaluations completed by the Department of Health and Human Services during the past year. Some studies result in definitive results, others raise as many questions as they answer. Most are concerned with our need to better understand the public programs for which we are responsible. Wide availability of information strengthens agency and program operations, guides management, and drives policy advice. While the matters addressed by these studies may appear technical, they are also interesting and important. We have made every effort to communicate information about this body of work as clearly, concisely, and effectively as possible. We hope you will find subjects here worthy of research. Most importantly, this report reflects our accountability to the public for the programs we administer.

During Fiscal Year 2007, evaluations examined important management, operational, policy, and factual circumstances faced by programs. These evalutions employed a wide range of methods, including literature reviews, focus groups, surveys, microsimulation analyses, field visits, and case studies. Some were carried out by agency staff; most were completed with the assistance of contract support expertise; all reflect an intense, creative and collaborative effort. The studies reflect technical expertise and programmatic knowledge and experience regarding the importance of achieving effective and efficient programs that accomplish targeted objectives and that serve the public purposes for which they were established.

The studies presented here focused on process and output activites or program environments, but also program outcomes. Several, seeking efficient use of resources, were preliminary feasibility or evaluability studies (examinations of the practical means by which a program might be evaluated) rather than full-fledged (and more expensive) evaluations. These studies typically led to advice and recommendations regarding whether, and how best, to proceed with more in-depth studies. Studies examined how to communicate important health and human services information to both the professional and general public. Several surveys provided valuable information about the nature of social behaviors or the numbers of institutional clients that are public beneficiaries in order to provide more solid bases for advice to policy decision-makers.

The studies in Performance Improvement 2008 support the four important goals articulated in the Department of Health and Human Services´ Fiscal Year 2007-2012 Strategic Plan. The remainder of Chapter I provides highlights of interesting and significant evaluations and findings from the past year, organized under these four goals.

 

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