Program Evaluation

Improving the Flow of Information to the Congress Gao ID: PEMD-95-1 January 30, 1995

Congressional committees need evaluative information to help them make decisions about the programs they oversee--information that tells them whether, and in what important respects, a program is working well or poorly. Concerned that the information it receives from administrative agencies is often insufficient, the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources asked GAO to (1) identify the kinds of information that would be useful for oversight and reauthorization review of the types of programs under its jurisdiction; (2) examine the extent to which agencies collect and report such information; and (3) propose a strategy the Committee could use to improve its access to agency information.

GAO found that: (1) useful program information includes descriptive information, implementation data, and data on program effects; (2) a brief list of core descriptive and evaluative questions that vary by program could capture the most useful program evaluation information; (3) when considering program reauthorization, the Committee should plan to request information on alternative approaches well in advance; (4) the Committee needs interim information on programs' implementation of new provisions and developing situations; (5) although the reviewed programs collect large amounts of useful information, the Committee does not receive most of it; (6) feasibility problems or design constraints sometimes limit the usefulness of statutorily mandated reports; and (7) greater two-way communications would facilitate the flow of useful information to the Committee.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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