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ACF Establishes New Policy Confirming Commitment to Evaluation and the Use of Evidence

Research, Transparency

Graph showing upward trend arrow with the words Evaluating Programs.Our mission is to foster health and well-being by providing federal leadership, partnership, and resources for the compassionate and effective delivery of human services.

The importance of this mission demands that we continually innovate, improve and learn. Through evaluation, the Administration for Children and Families and our partners can learn systematically so that we can make our services as effective as possible.

I have established an evaluation policy that reconfirms our commitment to evaluation and the use of evidence. The policy addresses five principles.

  • Rigor: ACF is committed to using rigorous methods to yield accurate and unbiased findings. In assessing the effects of services, ACF evaluations will use methods that isolate to the greatest extent possible the impacts of the services from other influences such as trends over time or pre-existing differences between participants and non-participants.
  • Relevance: Our evaluations should address legislative requirements and the interests of Congress, ACF, HHS, and Administration leadership; ACF partners such as states, territories, tribes, and local grantees; the populations served; researchers; and other stakeholders. Evaluations should represent the diverse populations we serve. There must be strong partnerships among evaluation staff, program staff, policy-makers and service providers. We will integrate both use of evidence and opportunities for learning into all of our activities.
  • Transparency: We will make information about planned and ongoing evaluations easily accessible. We will release results regardless of the findings. Reports will present comprehensive results, including favorable, unfavorable, and null findings. We will release evaluation results timely.
  • Independence: It is important to insulate evaluation functions from undue influence and from both the appearance and the reality of bias.  To promote objectivity, we protect independence in the design, conduct and analysis of evaluations. ACF will conduct evaluations through the competitive award of grants and contracts to external experts who are free from conflicts of interest
  • Ethics: ACF-sponsored evaluations will be conducted in an ethical manner and safeguard the dignity, rights, safety and privacy of participants. ACF-sponsored evaluations will comply with both the spirit and the letter of relevant requirements such as regulations governing research involving human subjects.

To read the policy in its entirety, visit ACF Evaluation Policy.

Last Reviewed: March 17, 2016
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