LAWG Week: Dayna S. Alexander on CDC in Atlanta

Greetings! My name is Dayna S. Alexander, and I’m in the Evaluation Fellowship Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Division of Reproductive Health (DRH). The Evaluation Fellowship Program, coordinated via the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), is in its 6th year, hosts 20 Fellows per year for 2-year engagements, and is one of the main ways evaluation capacity is built for CDC programs. Let me share the history of CDC and information about evaluation and CDC.

In the United States, the Malaria Control in War Areas (MCWA) was established in 1942 to control malaria around military training bases. Concluding World War II, Dr. Joseph W. Mountin envisioned an agency that would support state and local health agencies in investigating and controlling communicable disease outbreaks. In 1946, the MCWA then became the Communicable Disease Center (CDC) targeting malaria, typhus, and other infectious diseases. It was decided that the CDC should be located in Atlanta, Georgia because the South had the most malaria transmissions. Throughout the years, minor changes have been made to the name; yet, the initials (CDC) have remained the same. CDC celebrates its 70th Anniversary this year, 2016.

Currently, the CDC is known as the nation’ s leading public health agency focusing on five strategic areas including the following: supporting state and local health departments, improving global health, implementing measures to decrease leading causes of death, strengthening surveillance and epidemiology, and reforming health policies. At the CDC, program evaluation supports the five strategic areas, through efforts of CDC programs, and, often, through agreements with partners at the state and community level.

Rad Resource: CDC’s Framework for Program Evaluation in Public Health, which just celebrated its 17th anniversary, provides a set of steps and standards for effective and practical program evaluations. While the focus is on public health programs, the approach has been generalized to any evaluation effort.

Rad Resource: Besides overseeing the Evaluation Fellowship Program. CDC’s Program Performance and Evaluation Office (PPEO) sets standards and expectations for agency-wide evaluation, delivers tools, technical assistance and resources to enhance evaluation efforts, and provides support for evaluation capacity-building across CDC programs and external partners.

Lesson Learned: If there are any core principles underlying CDC’s approach, it is the idea of utility or utilization-focused evaluation. Evaluation, rather than being a set of specific methods, needs to be right-sized to meet the needs of the user and the situation in which the evaluation is being conducted. This is how we ensure that evaluation findings are used for program improvement.

We’re looking forward to October and the Evaluation 2016 annual conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). 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 contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to


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