Program Evaluation: Minimum EERE Requirements
The minimum requirements for EERE's in-progress peer reviews are described below. Given the diversity of EERE programs and activities, a great deal of flexibility is provided within these requirements, and options and examples of different best practices are provided throughout the EERE Peer Review Guide.
Scope of Review. Qualified and objective peers on a regular basis will review all EERE programs in both Technology Development and Business Administration offices and their key projects. This should typically cover 80-90% of RD3 funding and supporting business analysis and management programs. Earmark projects will be included in the review and treated on the same basis as other activities.
Frequency of Review. All EERE programs and their key projects will be reviewed, on average, every two years, depending on the characteristics of the program and needs for information.
Timely Preparation. Preparation for a peer review will include designation of a review leader, determination of the purpose of the review and the review agenda, and communication of this information to reviewers and those being reviewed in time for them to prepare for the review.
Core Evaluation Criteria. Clear standards for judging the program or projects will be defined prior to the review. This includes the criteria and the kinds of evidence (data) needed to judge those criteria. At a minimum, programs will be assessed on quality, productivity, and accomplishments; relevance of program success to EERE and programmatic goals; and management.
Reviewers. There will be a minimum of three reviewers for each discrete program element or smallest unit that is assessed and reported on. Each reviewer will be independent, competent, and objective, selected by a transparent, credible process that involves external parties. Together the reviewers will cover the subject matter. Reviewers will sign Conflict of Interest forms prior to the review and Nondisclosure Agreements if/when proprietary information is presented or discussed.
Plan for Collecting Reviewer Data. Review leaders will plan ahead for how review inputs will be documented, analyzed, and reported, as well as how individual reviewer comments will be tracked while maintaining their public anonymity. The review agenda will allow sufficient time for a rigorous question and answer period for reviewers. Reviewers will be encouraged to support their comments with citations or data wherever possible.
Producing the Peer Review Report. The peer review report will reflect the full range of reviewer comments with high fidelity. The report should also include all individual inputs from the reviewers and will be reviewed by the panel chair and/or the review panel before release.
Program Manager Review and Response. Before the report is finalized and goes to senior management, the office leadership will add written responses to peer reviewer findings and recommendations, including actions to be taken to improve the program.
Peer Review Report Distribution. The final peer review report will be promptly communicated to senior management, associated staff and researchers involved with the R&D program or project, and all persons involved in the review, and the report will be made available publicly.
Peer Review Record and Ex-post Evaluation. A peer review record will be established at the beginning of, and maintained throughout, the review process. The record should contain the final form of all the key documents of the review for all phases of the review. An evaluation of the peer review process is necessary to aid continuous process improvement.