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Evaluating Welfare Reform in an Era of Transition
convening of research conferences, promoting the exchange of technical assistance among the states, and other capacity building mechanisms.
Finally, given the decentralized nature of the evaluation of PRWORA, and given the disparate methods that have been and will be used and the diversity of different approaches to evaluation that have been conducted, a major attempt to synthesize findings will be needed. Reconciling conflicting findings, combining experimental and nonexperimental results when appropriate, weighing the results of different studies considering their strengths and weaknesses, combining quantitative and qualitative data, drawing lessons from monitoring studies as well as evaluation studies, and identifying and filling gaps in knowledge in order to arrive at a comprehensive, best-guess judgment on the different effects of welfare reform will be a challenging task. But it is a necessary one. Once again, we recommend that the federal government, whose interests are those of the nation as a whole as charged by the electorate, take a leadership role in this regard and fulfill the synthesizing function. ASPE, as the policy evaluation and development arm of DHHS, is the most appropriate agency to fill this role.
Recommendation 4.11 The panel recommends that ASPE be the primary agency responsible for synthesizing findings from studies of the consequences of changes in welfare programs.