I went to a number of insightful presentations at Evaluation 2009 an annual conference put on by the American Evaluation Association. One very interesting session I attended was called “Accountability, Context Transparency and President Obama: Evaluation and the New Administration”. As evaluators, we believe there is great value in examining programs in a rigorous method to find value, note best practices, look for needed changes and record usable, valid data. According to the session presenters, our current leadership in the federal government also holds evaluation up as a valid means for shaping goals, focusing on which program are achieving their goals, and finding out how they are achieving them. Some of the common themes that came out in the portion of the presentation given by George F. Grob with the Center for Public Program Evaluation were: •Evaluation is an integral part of policy making and program management in the new administration •Evaluation helps streamline processes and paperwork •The emphasis is on the analysis of trends and evaluation data •There is a need for independent, rigorous evaluation •There is a focus on new, high-priority programs •An importance in communicating with Congress in setting performance goals for programs He also mentioned that there is a new accountability for the Cabinet and senior agency appointees regarding performance goals. Throughout the presentations by different experts I heard an overall message that this administration is striving to improve the performance of its agencies and programs and not just measure it. There will also be an effort to encourage cross-program comparisons on how to streamline government. The main message given by Stephanie Shipman of the US Government Accountability Office was a renewed and increased interest in accountability and transparency. Also brought up was the fact that Congress has continued to add programs without dropping any of the old ones. Evaluation can play a major role in helping agencies work together to look at budgets and practices to see which programs merit continuing and which programs could be merged or done away with entirely. One speaker cautioned that success in using evaluation in examining the effectiveness of government programs can only be achieved it the evaluation is conducted in a thoughtful, analytic, non-partisan and subjective manner. I came away from this AEA session with a sense that the presenters and audience had an overall positive outlook about how the new administration was approaching evaluation. I also heard that it would be necessary to make serious changes in the current system due to having too many measures and reporting systems for federal agencies and too many information systems that are not in sync.