Program Evaluation: Roles of Peer Review Participants

The roles of peer review participants include review leader and chairperson.

Review Leader

A review leader from the program office or EERE should be appointed by the program manager to facilitate the review process, which includes selecting a review panel chairperson and peer reviewers per the approaches described below, and as discussed in Section 2.2 (Roles and Responsibilities) of the Peer Review guide. The review leader is always a member of EERE staff and works with and in support of the panel chairperson.

The review leader could decide to establish a steering panel composed of external and possibly some internal EERE (non-program) staff. This steering panel would (1) consult with internal and external experts and stakeholders to develop broad perspectives in the design and implementation of the review; (2) help define the review process and evaluation criteria, and (3) help select the review chairperson, as well as possibly other members of the review panel. Use of a steering body can further increase the independence of the review process. In general, involving a variety of expert and stakeholder perspectives in the design of the review also ensures that the review will be more credible and useful.


The chairperson of the review is an objective, unbiased, and independent expert from outside the program being reviewed. The review chairperson serves a unique and important role that can begin as early in the review process as he/she is selected, including the selection of the members of the peer review panel. Areas where the chairperson provides direction, oversight, and possibly final decisions can include the following:

  • Selection of reviewers;
  • Establishing review criteria;
  • Establishing the content and scope of material submitted by research teams;
  • Ensuring independence of the panel members during the review and the independence of the review more generally;
  • Facilitating the review process, or guiding a professional facilitator if one is used;
  • Ensuring that the review is focused on substance; and
  • Overseeing the production of the peer review report and signing off on the final report.

Given the responsibilities of the review chairperson, it is not necessarily the most credentialed technical expert that is desirable, but rather someone with knowledge of the field and a high level of management and meeting skills, including the ability to handle disruptive individuals (although an outside facilitator can help to smooth the process).

Learn about other peer review preparation activities.