(a) The Department of Veterans Affairs will evaluate all programs authorized under title 38 U.S.C. These evaluations will be conducted so as to determine each program's effectiveness in achieving its stated goals and in achieving such goals in relation to their cost. In addition, these evaluations will determine each program's impact on related programs and its structure and mechanism for delivery of services. All programs will be evaluated on a continuing basis and all evaluations will be conducted by Department of Veterans Affairs staff assigned to an organizational entity other than those responsible for program administration. These evaluations will be conducted with sufficient frequency to allow for an assessment of the continued effectiveness of the programs.
(b) The program evaluation will be designed to determine if the existing program supports the intent of the law. A program evaluation must identify goals and objectives that support this intent, contain a method to measure fulfillment of the objectives, ascertain the degree to which goals and objectives are met, and report the findings and conclusions to Congress, as well as make them available to the public.
(c) The goals must be clear, specific, and measurable. To be clear they must be readily understood, free from doubt or confusion, and specific goals must be explicitly set forth. They must be measurable by objective means. These means can include use of existing record systems, observations, and information from other sources.
(d) All program evaluations require a detailed evaluation plan. The evaluation plan must clearly state the objectives of the program evaluation, the methodology to be used, resources to be committed, and a timetable of major phases.
(e) Each program evaluation must be objective. It must report the accomplishments as well as the shortcomings of the program in an unbiased way. The program evaluation must have findings that give decision-makers information which is of a level of detail and importance to enable decisions to be made affecting either direction or operation. The information in the program evaluation must be timely, and must contain information of sufficient currency that decisions based on the data in the evaluation can be made with a high degree of confidence in the data.
(f) Each program evaluation requires a systematic research design to collect the data necessary to measure the objectives. This research design should conform to the following:
(1)Rationale. The research design for each evaluation should contain a specific rationale and should be structured to determine possible cause and effect relationships.
(2)Relevancy. It must deal with issues currently existing within the program, within the Department, and within the environment in which the program operates.
(3)Validity. The degree of statistical validity should be assessed within the research design. Alternatives include an assessment of cost of data collection vs. results necessary to support decisions.
(4)Reliability. Use of the same research design by others should yield the same findings.
(g) The final program evaluation report will be reviewed for comments and concurrence by relevant organizations within the Department of Veterans Affairs, but in no case should this review unreasonably delay the results of the evaluation. Where disagreement exists, the dissenting organization's position should be summarized for a decision by the Secretary.
(h) The final program evaluation report will be forwarded, with approved recommendations, to the concerned organization. An action plan to accomplish the approved recommendations will be forwarded for evaluation by the evaluating entity.
(i) Program evaluation results should be integrated to the maximum extent possible into Department of Veterans Affairs plans and budget submissions to ensure continuity with other Department of Veterans Affairs management processes.