Memorandum M-10-01, Increased Emphasis on Program Evaluations



Rigorous, independent program evaluations can be a key resource in determining whether government programs are achieving their intended outcomes as well as possible and at the lowest possible cost. Evaluations can help policymakers and agency managers strengthen the design and operation of programs. Ultimately, evaluations can help the Administration determine how to spend taxpayer dollars effectively and efficiently -- investing more in what works and less in what does not.

Although the Federal government has long invested in evaluations, many important programs have never been formally evaluated -- and the evaluations that have been done have not sufficiently shaped Federal budget priorities or agency management practices. Many agencies lack an office of evaluation with the stature and staffing to support an ambitious, strategic, and relevant research agenda. As a consequence, some programs have persisted year after year without adequate evidence that they work. In some cases, evaluation dollars have flowed into studies of insufficient rigor or policy significance. And Federal programs have rarely evaluated multiple approaches to the same problem with the goal of identifying which ones are most effective.

To address these issues and strengthen program evaluation, OMB will launch the following government-wide efforts as part of the Fiscal Year 2011 Budget process:

  • On-line information about existing evaluations. OMB will work with agencies to make information readily available online about all Federal evaluations focused onprogram impacts that are planned or already underway.
  • Inter-agency working group. Together with the Domestic Policy Council, National Economic Council and the Council of Economic Advisors, OMB will establish a newinter-agency working group to promote stronger evaluation across the Federalgovernment.
  • New, voluntary evaluation initiative. As part of the Fiscal Year 2011 Budget process, OMB will allocate a limited amount of funding for agencies which, on a voluntary basis: ...