A framework for assessing value can aid decision making by

  • requiring that goals be stated clearly;
  • integrating incomplete and sometimes conflicting information and beliefs;
  • avoiding decision making based on arbitrary impressions or self-interest;
  • clarifying trade-offs;
  • promoting transparency; and
  • exposing legitimate sources of disagreement and helping to work through them.

Frameworks for assessing value can be geared toward prospective or retrospective assessments of value. A prospective assessment of value is performed before an intervention takes place and is designed to help policy makers decide whether to undertake the intervention. An example of a prospective assessment is a cost estimate produced by the Congressional Budget Office. Program evaluations are concurrent or retrospective assessments of value: What can the evaluators say about an intervention’s value while it is being implemented or after it has occurred? (Stufflebeam, 1999). Benefit-cost analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis, and some other valuation frameworks, may be either prospective or retrospective (Nash et al., 1975).

The committee concluded that a framework for assessing value should include the following elements:

  • A decision-making context
    • Who are the decision makers, what are the decisions they are making, and what are the formal and informal mechanisms by which assessments of value feed into the decision-making process?
  • A list of valued outcomes
    • What does the user of the framework care about? What should the user of the framework care about?
  • A list of admissible sources of evidence
    • What information does the user of the framework use to build the model of causation that links interventions to valued outcomes?
  • A method for weighting and summarizing
    • How is information on all the valued outcomes boiled down and made digestible for decision makers?

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement