Evidence Building Efforts
OMB Circular A-11, Section 210.11 requires the Annual Performance Reports to describe evaluations or other relevant evidence activities, and how a portfolio of evidence is used to inform decision-making. Evaluation and analysis provide essential evidence for HHS to understand how its programs work, for whom, and under what circumstances. HHS builds evidence through evaluation and analysis in order to inform decisions in the budget, legislative, regulatory, strategic planning, program, and policy arenas. Given the breadth of work supported by HHS, the Department conducts many evaluations and analyses each year. These efforts range in scope, scale, design, and methodology, but all aim to understand the effects of programs and policies and how they can be improved.
Implementation of the Evidence Act: HHS is in the initial stages of implementing the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 ("the Evidence Act"). The Evidence Act requires the Department to develop and implement a four-year Evidence-Building Plan, with annual evaluation plans. These plans will guide HHS's progress towards addressing the questions and priorities articulated in the Evidence-Building Plan. Per OMB Guidance M-19-23, HHS is presently developing interim Evidence-Building Plans and an evaluation plan for FY 2022. HHS also designated the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation as the Evaluation Officer for HHS.
Evaluation at HHS: Across HHS, evaluation comes in many forms including:
- Formal program evaluations using the most rigorous designs appropriate;
- Capacity-building initiatives to improve administrative data collection, accessibility, and use for management;
- Exploratory quantitative and qualitative analysis to build preliminary evidence;
- Pilots and demonstrations; and
- Statistical analysis of factors related to the implementation, performance, and outcomes of health and human services programs and policies.
HHS disseminates findings from a variety of evaluations and analyses to the public on HHS agency websites, such as those operated by ACF's Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation and CMS's Innovation Center at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. HHS coordinates its evaluation community by regularly convening the HHS Evaluation and Evidence Policy Council, which builds capacity by sharing best practices and promising new approaches across the department. The Council will be key to implementing the Evidence Act.
Disseminating Evidence: In addition to building evidence through a broad range of rigorous empirical studies, analysis, and evaluations, HHS supports multiple clearinghouses that catalog, review, and disseminate evidence related to programs. Examples include the ACF Research and Evaluation Clearinghouses on Self-Sufficiency, Employment Strategies, Strengthening Families, Home Visiting, and Child Care and Early Education; the AHRQ United States Preventive Services Task Force; the CDC Community Guide; and the SAMHSA Evidence-Based Practices Resource Center.