Program Support

Budget Estimates for Appropriations Committees, Fiscal Year 2011

This statement summarizes budget information submitted to Congress for fiscal year 2011 by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
ProgramFY 2009
FY 2009
Recovery Act
FY 2010
Appropriation Level
FY 2011
FY 2011
+/- FY 2010
TotalBudget Authority (BA)$-$-$-$-$-
Public Health Service (PHS) Evaluation$65,122,000$-$67,600,000$72,713,000$5,113,000

Authorizing Legislation: Title III and IX and Section 937(c) of the Public Health Service Act
FY 2009 Authorization: Expired
Allocation Method: Other.

A. Program Description and Accomplishments

This budget activity supports the strategic direction and overall management of the AHRQ, including funds for salary and benefits of 315 FTEs.

Program Support

Program support activities for the Agency include operational support costs such as salaries and benefits, rent, supplies, travel, transportation, communications, printing and other reproduction costs, contractual services, taps and assessments, supplies, equipment, and furniture. Most AHRQ staff divide their time between multiple portfolios, which is why AHRQ's staff and overhead costs are shown centralized in Program Support, instead of within the relevant research portfolio or MEPS. Formerly, the majority of these costs were shown within HQCO's Crosscutting Activities portfolio.

Strategic Direction

Strategic Management of Human Capital
AHRQ participated in the Federal Human Capital Survey (FHCS) and is assessing the impact of the results at the Office/Center levels and communicating this information to staff. Additionally, Agency staff involved in the Making AHRQ Great Initiative (MAG) has been called upon to foster solutions and ensure issues on a large scale are resolved (e.g., themes which cut across AHRQ). An action plan is currently being developed which will address issues and concerns that were revealed through the survey.

Recently, AHRQ conducted forums to assess the current Performance Management Appraisal Program system (PMAP) and provided responses to the Department suggesting changes to the existing policy. In an effort to ensure full and open conversations, forums and questionnaires were utilized to obtain feedback from managers and employees. Notable suggestions included weighting of the performance elements and implementation of a five tiered appraisal system. AHRQ recently engaged in testing of the new automated performance management application and conducted a pilot test with a small group of staff in the Agency. AHRQ continues to support workforce development programs and initiatives through competency assessment, development and implementation for mission critical activities. The Agency identified a need for, and implemented mandatory Project Management training for all AHRQ staff and participated in the Department-wide effort to identify and establish core competencies across OPDIVs/StaffDIVs. Finally, AHRQ continues to strive towards meeting the OPM 45-day timeline for hiring and notifying applicants to SES and non-SES vacancies. We are working in collaboration with the Rockville Human Resources Center to ensure timelines are met and we consistently inform selecting officials of this requirement through the issuance of action due dates upon release of certificates identifying eligible applicants.

In response to the Department's workforce and succession planning initiative, AHRQ began working on several analyses and reports to gain a better understanding of the Agency's workforce needs and required skill sets. As part of this Initiative, the Agency's Senior Leadership Team were polled about their current and anticipated workforce needs. Additionally, an analysis was completed on the Agency's senior positions to determine potential competency loss due to upcoming retirements or departures in programmatic and management positions and the state of succession planning activities in order to mitigate or greatly reduce a disruption to AHRQ programs and services. Results of these two separate activities were incorporated into the Agency's succession plan and presented to Departmental officials in August, 2009.

Improve Financial Performance
AHRQ is working to demonstrate to the Office of Finance at HHS effective use of financial information to drive results in key areas of operations and to develop and implement a plan to continuously expand the scope to additional areas of operations. AHRQ has completed the review and updating of all internal controls in light of the transition to an integrated, department-wide financial management solution - the Unified Financial Management System (UFMS). In addition, AHRQ continued to participate in the Department's A-123 internal control efforts and implemented all corrective actions for deficiencies reported as a result of the FMFIA/A-123 internal control processes identified in FY 2009. In FY 2010, AHRQ will update all internal controls based on the transition to the HHS Consolidated Acquisition Solution (HCAS). HCAS is the standardized acquisition system that will be used across multiple OPDIVs, including AHRQ. Finally, AHRQ continues to maintain a low-risk status for improper payments.

Electronic Government
AHRQ's current activities include:

  • Ongoing development of policies and procedures that link AHRQ's IT initiatives directly to the mission and performance goals of the Agency. Our governance structure ensures that all IT initiatives are not undertaken without the consent and approval of AHRQ Senior Management and prioritized based upon the strategic goals and research priorities of the Agency.
  • Ensuring AHRQ's IT initiatives are aligned with departmental and Agency enterprise architectures. Utilizing HHS defined FHA and HHS Enterprise Architectures, AHRQ ensures that all internal and contracted application initiatives are consistent with the technologies and standards and adopted by HHS as well as OMB directives. This uniformity improves application integration (leveraging of existing systems) as well as reducing cost and development time.
  • Providing quality customer service and operations support to AHRQ's centers, offices and outside stakeholders. This objective entails providing uniform tools, methods, processes, practices and standards to ensure all projects and programs are effectively managed utilizing industry best practices. These practices include PMI (PMBOK, EVM), RUP (SDLC), CPIC, and EA. These practices have appreciably improved AHRQ's ability to satisfy project objectives to include cost and schedule.
  • Ensuring the protection of AHRQ data; commensurate with current and future legislation and OMB directives. AHRQ's security program goals focus on executing the defined goals developed in our strategic and tactical plans which are targeted at three key areas: People, Process and Technology. These goals include but are not limited to: implementation of LOB Information and Security and Privacy Awareness training, System Development Life Cycle and FIPS 140-2 compliant encryption solutions. AHRQ continues to ensure 98 percent or higher of AHRQ's employees will complete the LOB Information Security and Privacy Awareness training. AHRQ will continue to follow the modified systems development life-cycle to ensure that security is addressed throughout each project phase. The Agency will deploy encryption solutions for mobile devices, removable media, and data and will ensure FDCC settings are applied to all desktops, laptops, and ensure servers are deployed with departmental approved standard security settings.

Please note: AHRQ's FY 2011 OMB Circular A-11, Exhibit 300: Capital Asset Plan and Business Case Summaries can be found at

Performance Improvement
General program direction is accomplished through the collaboration of the Office of the Director and the offices and centers that have programmatic responsibility for portions of the Agency's research portfolio. AHRQ created a framework to provide a more thoughtful and strategic alignment of its activities. This framework represents the Agency's collaborative efforts on strategic opportunities for growth and synergy. As the result of increased emphasis on strategic planning, the Agency continues the shift from a focus on output and process measurement to a focus on outcome measures where feasible. These outcome measures cascade down from our strategic goal areas of safety/quality, effectiveness, efficiency and organizational excellence. Portfolios of work (combinations of activities that make up the bulk of our investments) support the achievement of our highest-level outcomes.

Performance data will be tracked electronically using the Agency's electronic performance tracking system and published as soon as it becomes available. Also, work will continue with program staff to establish and display a close alignment of projects and how they support AHRQ's performance measures and the Department's strategic goal areas. All of AHRQ's performance measures are displayed in AHRQ's On-Line Performance Appendix (available at

In FY 2008 and FY 2009, AHRQ continued the implementation of strong budget and performance integration practices through the use of structured Project Management processes. AHRQ has begun a campaign to design and implement a quality improvement process for managing major programs that support the Agency's strategic goals and Departmental strategic goals and specific objectives.

AHRQ has successfully completed comprehensive program assessments on six key programs within the Agency: The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS); the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP); the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Plans Survey (CAHPS®); the Patient Safety portfolio; the former Pharmaceutical Outcomes portfolio; and most recently the Health Information Technology portfolio. These reviews provide the basis for the Agency to move forward in more closely linking high quality outcomes with associated costs of programs. Over the next few years, the Agency will focus on fully integrating financial management of these programs with their performance.

B. Funding History

Funding for the Program Support budget activity during the last five years is provided below. Please note these total have been made comparable to reflect the centralizing of all staff and administrative overhead costs within this budget activity.


C. Budget Request

The FY 2011 Request level for Program Support is $72,713,000, an increase $5,113,000 over the FY 2010 Appropriated level. The FY 2011 Request level provides $2,250,000 to support salary and benefit costs for 15 new FTEs for the Patient-centered Health Research portfolio. A total of $1,600,000 for pay raise costs for AHRQ as a whole, and $500,000 for required increases within AHRQ's budget, including rent increases, travel, printing, and data costs is provided at the FY 2011 Request. The FY 2011 Request also includes $763,000 to support increased costs for the Service and Supply Fund as well as Joint Funding Agreements with other operating divisions within HHS. A table showing estimated Program Support costs by portfolio and MEPS is provided below.

 FY 2009
FY 2010
FY 2011
Patient-centered Health Research10,4204,05613,524
Prevention/Care Management1,3023,3803,523
Value Research651676705
Health Information Technology9,7685,4087,046
Patient Safety10,42018,25214,797
Crosscutting Activities20,83923,66019,730
Medical Expenditure Panel Survey11,72212,16813,388
Total, Research Management$65,112$67,60072,713

In FY 2011, AHRQ will provide salary support to:

  • Continue to develop internal IT program management policies and procedures in line with guidance being issued by HHS.
  • Implement a Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) Publication 140-2 compliant email encryption solution.
  • Comply with HHS Enterprise Architecture requirements for FY 2011.
  • Develop and update Risk Assessment of HCQO and continue to participate in the Department's A-123 internal control efforts.

D. Outputs and Outcomes Tables

Program: Program Support

Long-Term Objective: Improve performance in all areas of Program Support.

Please go to AHRQ's On-Line Performance Appendix (available at for measures the portfolio will be retiring in FY 2011.

MeasureMost Recent ResultFY 2010 TargetFY 2011 TargetFY 2011 +/- FY 2010
5.1.1: Improve AHRQ's strategic management of human capital
FY 2009: Complied with all Departmental procedures for HR management. Completed report on workforce needs and required skill sets. (Target Met)Fully comply with all Departmental procedures for HR managementUpon Departmental approval, fully implement the new HHS-wide automated performance management systemNA
5.1.2: Maintain a low risk improper payment risk status
FY 2009: Met all requirements for Department's A-123 Internal Control efforts (Target Met)Complete updating of all internal controls following AHRQ's conversion to HCASDevelop Risk Assessment and continue to participate in the Department's A-123 Internal Control effortsNA
5.1.3: Expand E-government by increasing IT Organizational Capability
FY 2009: Developed internal IT program management policies and procedures in line with guidance being issued by HHS (Target Met)Continue to develop internal IT program management policies and procedures in line with guidance being issued by HHSContinue to develop internal IT program management policies and procedures in line with guidance being issued by HHSNA
5.1.4: Improve IT Security/Privacy
FY 2009: Integrated and aligned AHRQ's security program with HHS's Secure one security program (Target Met)Fully implement FDCC and standard security configurations of all systemsImplement a FIPS 140-2 compliant email encryption solutionNA
5.1.5: Establish IT Enterprise Architecture
FY 2009: Complied with EA activity set forth by HHS. (Target Met)Comply with HHS EA requirements for FY 2010Comply with HHS EA requirements for FY 2011NA
5.1.6: Meet all performance goals related to performance and budget integration
FY 2009: VPS implemented within the portfolios. Began development of WBS for all projects (Target Met)Comply with HHS performance and budget integration requirements for FY 2010Comply with HHS performance and budget integration requirements for FY 2011NA

Program Support

(Dollars in Millions)


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Current as of February 2010
Internet Citation: Program Support: Budget Estimates for Appropriations Committees, Fiscal Year 2011. February 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.