As part of the $1.1 billion provided to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) earmarked for comparative effectiveness research (CER) under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA or Recovery Act) of 2009, $474 million went to HHS’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to support and disseminate comparative effectiveness research results. Comparative effectiveness research is that which compares various interventions and strategies for health condition prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) was asked to describe AHRQ’s process and criteria for Recovery Act funds award for comparative effectiveness research and AHRQ’s plans for funded research dissemination. In its February 29, 2012 report, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Process for Awarding Recovery Act Funds and Disseminating Results, GAO describes its process for meeting those objectives along with the results of its study.

The study involved relevant documentation review including:

  • AHRQ’s grant recipient selection policies and procedures.
  • Internal documentation describing Recovery Act contract and grant award.
  • Work plans of Recovery Act contractors.
  • The type and number of contracts and grants awarded comparative effectiveness research funds under the Recovery Act.

GAO found that AHRQ’s standard review process and criteria was used to select grant and contract recipients. This includes grant application peer review, senior official recommendation, and agency director final funding determination. Grant applications were evaluated using AHRQ’s standard criteria along with additional requirements specific to each funding opportunity. Selected contractors were awarded Recovery Act funds based on its standard contracting criteria and processes as governed by the Federal Acquisition Regulation.

A range of existing mechanisms including training programs, written products, and social media tools would be employed to disseminate comparative effectiveness research funds.

To read or download the full report, click here (PDF).