The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ (NIAID) Policy, Planning, and Evaluation (PP&E) Branch
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is dedicated to evaluating its programs in order to optimize its national and international programs providing basic and applied research to understand, prevent, and treat infectious and allergic diseases. As one of the largest of NIH’s 27 Institutes and Centers, NIAID has a high demand for program evaluation support and the demand for these evaluations far exceeds NIAID’s Policy, Planning, and Evaluation (PP&E) Branch’s capacity to conduct them internally. NIAID requires evaluation surge support capabilities and frequent, external, and neutral expertise to enhance the evaluation services they offer.
Since 2016, Ripple Effect has provided task order support to NIAID by evaluating numerous large-scale biomedical research programs, international center-based programs, and NIH training programs through an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract. Our multidisciplinary team includes Masters and PhD-level evaluators and scientific subject matter experts, as well as a large and flexible evaluation workforce we can call on to ramp up staff and manage numerous overlapping priorities. Working in tandem with NIAID staff, we execute a variety of research and evaluation services, including evaluation design, survey creation and administration, interviews and focus groups, content analysis of existing documents such as annual progress reports, analysis of quantitative and qualitative data, and network analyses. Along with these primary services, we abstract and analyze administrative outcomes data including publications, bibliometrics, patents, clinical trials, and subsequent grants for grantees from relevant databases (e.g., NIH IMPAC II, NIAID RPAB, NIH RePORTER, NIH ExPORTER, WoS, iCite, USPTO) to assess the impact of NIAID programs on their respective fields.
Over the past four years, Ripple Effect has worked on 14 evaluation projects and produced 12 evaluation plans, 9 evaluation reports, 9 briefings of key findings, and 6 training modules on evaluation topics such as creating logic models, writing SMART evaluation questions, survey design, and bibliometric techniques. NIAID programs have used the results of these evaluations in publications and presentations at professional conferences to validate the impact of their programs on the research community. In addition, they have used evaluation findings to improve future iterations of the programs by making structural and procedural changes to benefit program output and impact and by altering requirements in their subsequent Request for Applications (RFA). Our deep understanding and experience with biomedical research, dozens of real-world, large-scale program evaluations of similar programs, and over a decade of experience with NIH’s extramural activities enabled us to create high-quality study designs, inform the analyses, report findings, and ensure all projects remain within budget with little to no on-ramp. As a result of our program evaluation and project management expertise, in 2019, Ripple Effect won another evaluation IDIQ contract with NIAID to continue providing these services through 2024.