emerging issues, and identifying emerging issues helps in priority-setting among investigations.
To assess program relevance, the committee begins this chapter with a review of major inputs to the program, including the strategic planning and stakeholder processes, and considers whether resources have been appropriately allocated and used to meet strategic needs. The chapter continues with an evaluation of the HHE Program’s activities and outputs, a discussion of how the program handles emerging issues, and then a discussion of the relevance of the program’s emergency response activities. The committee’s findings related to each of these topics are highlighted in bold. Recommendations related to the improvement of program relevance are found within the body of the text throughout the chapter and are organized and summarized in Chapter 5. The final section of this chapter provides the committee’s rating for relevance.
Finding 1: The HHE Program’s strategic plan is highly relevant to the program mission.
The HHE Program’s strategic and intermediate goals are summarized in Table 3-1. These were developed by the HHE Program in response to a recommendation by the NIOSH Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC) to “improve the efficiency of processes, prioritization of tasks and overall management of the program [including to … d]evelop annual goals and measurable objectives regarding the work products, priorities and work processes of the HHE Program that are practical, cost effective, and consistent with resources” (NIOSH BSC, 2006). The committee finds that the HHE Program has made a serious effort to respond to this recommendation. The goals are well targeted and relevant, and can be measured by the number and types of HHE requests received, the number of reports and field investigations conducted related to each of these goals, and their effects as determined through followback surveys (described in Chapter 2). Appropriate performance measures for each intermediate goal have been chosen, given the limited resources of the program. The committee believes, however, that with additional resources, performance measures could be made more specific and ambitious. There is no indication that surveillance or workers’ compensation data were used to formulate the HHE Program’s strategic plan. Given more resources, onsite follow-up investigations to assess the impact of interventions would help the program assess and revise its goals and performance measures as necessary. The committee comments on individual performance goals and measures in Table 3-1.