2-for-1 Week: Garry Lowry, Lynn Chaiken and Tamara Lamia on Evaluability Assessments of PHHS Block Grant and Other Flexible Funding Mechanisms and Opportunities

Hi—we are Garry Lowry from the Office for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lynn Chaiken from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, and Tamara Lamia from ICF International. We are part of a team that conducted a rapid eight-month evaluability assessment of the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant. The Block Grant provides all 50 states, the District of Columbia, two tribes, and eight US territories with flexible funding to address their unique and emerging public health needs.

Because block grants and flexible funding mechanisms are, by definition, broad, you might find that you improve a program’s evaluability by doing the assessment itself, especially when attempting to describe the program. We present some hot tips and cool tricks for using evaluability assessment tasks to clarify the program definition before doing more formal evaluation.

Hot Tips: Draft or Refine Program Goals, Objectives, and Strategies. After reviewing Block Grant resource documents and engaging diverse stakeholders, we created an overarching goals, objectives, and strategies document that facilitated a shared understanding of the program’s intended outcomes and how it planned to achieve them. When a basic program definition is lacking or not explicitly articulated, creating one can help make post-assessment evaluation planning easier.

Draft or Refine a Program Logic Model. Once we had broad stakeholder acceptance of the goals, objectives, and strategies, we drafted a logic model with stakeholder input. The logic model demonstrated how the identified strategies led to the program’s objectives and goals. In our case, creating a logic model after drafting and gaining stakeholder buy-in on explicit program goals, objectives, and strategies minimized the necessary back and forth with our large stakeholder group. Adding a logic model provides a graphic description of your program and forms a foundation for evaluation planning.

Cool Tricks: Leveraging a SWOT Analysis. A SWOT analysis helps identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a program or course of action. In the evaluability assessment context, the SWOT analysis gave us a framework for thinking about program aspects that might help or hinder future evaluation efforts.

Using a Visual Dot Prioritization Exercise. We used a visual dot prioritization exercise to prioritize numerous outcomes for short- and long-term evaluation. With the outcomes posted on flipcharts around the room, each stakeholder placed one colored dot on the most important outcome to evaluate and a different colored dot on the most feasible outcome to evaluate in the near term. The result was a visual of colored dots, which we sorted in a 2×2 matrix to analyze which outcomes were deemed the most important and most feasible for immediate evaluation.

We’re celebrating 2-for-1 Week here at aea365. With tremendous interest in the blog lately, we’ve had many authors eager to share their evaluation wisdom, so for one special week, readers will be treated to two blog posts per day! Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.


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