Performance Improvement 2009. Appendix F - How To Obtain More Information


How To Obtain More Information

Here are 5 ways to can more information.:

  1. Conduct a search of the full Policy Information Center (PIC) Database at The PIC database contains over 8,000 additional summaries, many with links to full evaluation reports. See below for more about this.
  1. Call the Federal Contact identified for each entry in Chapter II. This individual, either the Project Officer responsible for the study or another individual from the office of agency that conducted the study, can provide copies of the report or other information.
  1. Contact the Performer, identified for each entry, who did the work of the study. More than likely, they have a web site. They may also post copies of their final reports on the study even when the PIC Database does not identify it as available. A caution: since we can only provide the name of the performer, this route may be problematic although prominent organizations have well designed and up-to-date web sites.
  1. Check the sponsoring agency’s web site, found in Appendix C; some agencies make all work they carry out available this way (for example the HHS Office of Inspector General routinely posts all its reports).
  1. Search the full HHS web site, the main gateway to HHS online,


Option 1  – Clicking the link in this report on line. Each summary in Chapter III of this report for which there is an online report has a hot link you can select.

Option 2  – To see all the annual reports in this series, go to the PIC database, at and click “ Performance Improvement Reports.”

Option 3  – To search the PIC database, go to and click “ Search Full Database.” Here there are three ways to find contents:

A.     If you know the unique 4-digit number (the “ PIC ID” ), enter it in the second field on the search page and press Enter to retrieve the individual record.

B.     Conduct a Full-Text Search (described below).

C.     Conduct a Specialized Search (described below).

Conduct a Full-Text Search

Enter words or phrases you want to search into the first field on the Search age.

Searching the full text of the PIC database examines ALL fields for each entry, usually making it unnecessary to use specialized searches (described below).

As needed, use the following special terms:

Term Action Examples
AND The AND operator means both words must be present. Use it to combine two ideas which are both important. tractors and safety
violence and classroom
alcohol and pregnancy
OR The OR operator means either word can be present. Use it to include synonyms or alternate terms in your search. adolescent or teenager
female or woman
sex or gender
NOT The NOT operator means a word should not be present in the search results. Use it with caution since you can easily eliminate items you want. television not cable
cancer not mice
crime not murder
Nesting By combining operators you can fashion a search for a very specific topic. Usually this is done by nesting, e.g. placing certain terms in parentheses. (hogs or pigs) and market
(sex or gender) and pay
(cancer and fat) not mice

Also, the ASTERISK ( * ) may be used. It functions as a “ wild card” (Example: “ immuniz*” will retrieve both immunize and immunization).

Proximity Designators  – Another option is to use the formula WORD<near/#>WORD. (Example: “ child<near/5>welfare” retrieves summaries in which the words “ child” and “ welfare” appear within 5 words of each other).

After entering your search, click SEARCH immediately to the right of the text entry box.

Editorial note: the full text search capability, outlined above, is the most powerful of all the search strategies and is, generally, the approach recommended when seeking all the studies on a particular area of interest. Of course, it will always be necessary to experiment with terms to use to obtain the most and clearly relevant retrievals.

Conduct Specialized Searches

There are 5 fields allowing the user to conduct specialized searches:

PIC ID (already described above)





Both the PIC ID and the Search Descriptors of PIC database fields have dedicated SEARCH buttons. Only these buttons, next to the field, will result in a search of that field and that button can only be used for that one field:


If you know the unique number of the database item, enter its 4-digit number or number with suffix (e.g., 8546 or 8546.2) and click the SEARCH button to the right of the field.

This is the failsafe way to keep track of a particular record. Once a number is assigned, it is always the same, even when other records are deleted from the system.

2. Search Descriptors of PIC Database

(1)   Highlight individual or groups of terms (“ Control” and click allows you to select several individual terms; “ Shift” and click allows you to select several contiguous terms)

(2)   Click on the >> button between the boxes

(3)   Highlight the descriptors in the right-hand box

(4)   Click the SEARCH button that is immediately below the two boxes

Editorial note: contents of this field are selected by project officers; not all records for which the descriptors apply have been so labeled; there is no review or standardization by HHS about how the terms are used. A search using the whole text field will likely reveal more records in which the descriptors apply. On the other hand, some records, in which the specific term/descriptor is not used may still present information relevant to that policy area. You may wish to search separately using both descriptors and the whole text search features in order to assure the most inclusive record selection; this applies to the fields below as well.

3. The last set of 3 fields, described below, have a single SEARCH button serving them (at the bottom of the search page) and also a CLEAR button that serves only these last 3 fields. These fields can be searched individually or in combination with one another.

(1)   In one or more of the three fields, highlight individual or groups of terms (“ Control” and click allows you to select several individual terms; “ Shift” and click allows you to select several contiguous terms).

(2)   Click the SEARCH button that is immediately below the three boxes

These three fields contain an historical record of ALL the agencies, project officers, and contract performers who have EVER been associated with one or more records that were, or are, in the database even if they are no longer.

Editorial note: regarding search strategy, if for instance, you were interested in finding studies carried out by 5-6 different contract performers, you could either run separate searches or, if you wished a consolidated output, you could select and highlight all of the different performers. The search results would combine these into a single set. The downside is that they would not be grouped other than in the order the individual records are maintained in the database.

The search engine can search for groups of entities in more than one field simultaneously, for instance. The three areas that can be searched are:

A. Agency  – the Shift and Control features are particularly useful for this field where there are multiple entries for most agencies

B. Project Officer  – this field is valuable for an individual who wants to track or retrieve the final entries under their own, or a particular person&rsquo;s name.

  1. Contract Performer  – this field, especially in conjunction with the Shift and Control features, is also useful in locating studies by an entity or group of related (or unrelated!) entities.

Example of a search strategy

How to find and look at all the records for a particular agency:

  1. go to:
  2. click on the Search Full Database tab
  3. after the full page loads, scroll down to the “ Agency” field (4th one down)
  4. click into the box, type the first letter of the agency in which you are interested
  5. click on the first entry for a series of related agency listings so that it is highlighted
  6. leaving the first item highlighted, use the right hand scroll bar to move to the end of the related series
  7. holding the SHIFT key on your keyboard down, click on the last entry for the agency series --- at this point all the related agency items should be highlighted
  8. click outside the box
  9. scroll to the bottom of the page
  10. click SEARCH

Brief entries for the write ups for a group of agency entries are shown, about 15 to a page. The agencies included in the search are listed across the top of the screen so you can check to see that they were all included in the search. Click on the red bolded titles of each entry and see the full database entry. Entries for which the reports are online will also have hot links to these reports.

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