Children's Programs:

A Comparative Evaluation Framework and Five Illustrations

PEMD-88-28BR: Published: Aug 31, 1988. Publicly Released: Sep 30, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO developed a framework of general criteria for ensuring comprehensive review of federal programs' operations and effectiveness and applied it to five federal programs.

The GAO framework: (1) consists of a program description component and a set of 10 general evaluation criteria; (2) assesses the need for a program, its implementation, and its effect; (3) describes the problem the program is to address, its purpose and goals, operations, administrative structure, and funding; and (4) applies to programs with multiple, broad goals that allow substantial flexibility in structure and content. GAO found that the framework: (1) successfully captured the types of issues raised in program reviews; (2) required both policymaking and technical expertise in order to set the purpose of the review, collect and review the relevant evidence, and use the results to judge the program's merits; and (3) provided a way to review the results of research on existing programs, assess proposed program changes, and compare programs with different scopes, purposes, and goals.