PROJECTS

U.S. General Services Administration

 

Professional Service Schedule, Business Consulting Solutions, Integrated Consulting Services, SIN 874-1 

Avar currently holds a GSA Professional Service Schedule Business Consulting Solutions under special item number (SIN) 874-1, Integrated Consulting Services.  Business Consulting Solutions (formerly MOBIS) include a full range of management and consulting services that can improve a federal agency's performance, and help customers meet their mission goals. Business services range from consulting, facilitation, quality assurance, analysis, strategy formulation, advisory and assistance, research, and training for acquisition and program support. Through the Integrated Consulting Services SIN GSA offers a range of services supporting research, evaluations, studies, analyses, scenarios/simulations, reports, business policy and regulation development assistance and strategy formulation. Through this schedule Avar provides a full range of survey services, including survey planning, design, and development; survey administration; data validation and analysis; reporting, and stakeholder briefings using a variety of methodologies.

International Sustainable Acquisition Research Project — U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)

The Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), Office of Acquisition Management (OAM), of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) sought to develop ways to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of vendors who provide the goods and services procured by the U.S. government. For this project, GSA was interested in collecting data to better understand the strategies used by European governments, what actions they have taken, and what they have accomplished as a result. The information gathered will be used to inform the U.S. Government’s efforts to incorporate environmental considerations into public procurements. As a subcontractor with Censeo Consulting Group, Avar was responsible for reviewing the draft questionnaire and online survey, including wording, format, and content.  Due to the exploratory nature of this study, Avar ensured that meaningful quantitative and qualitative data were collected to improve the validity and reliability of the questionnaire. Contact Person: Curt Cote, 978-409-2012

U.S. Department of Agriculture

 

Assessment of States’ Use of Computer Matching Protocols in SNAP - Food and Nutrition Service

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is an essential component of the nation’s safety net for low-income families and individuals. There is great variation among the states in the adoption of computerized data matching to verify SNAP participant eligibility based on financial and non-financial information. Access to this information is essential for program integrity, program administration, and simplified processing. FNS contracted with Avar to conduct an assessment of computer-matching capabilities among state SNAP agencies. Under this contract, Avar developed and implemented a detailed study plan, designed the data collection instruments for the study, prepared the OBM package, and developed an online survey instrument. Avar completed a pilot test of the survey using four states as respondents.  Avar conducted a census of all 53 state SNAP offices (as well as county- or local-level agencies that administer their own SNAP program independently). Avar is analyzing and reporting on the findings of the study, and developing an analytic tool. Avar collected three types of data: (1) documentation on state data-matching procedures; (2) documentation on administrative costs of data-matching; and (3) survey data from state SNAP agencies collected in the National Survey of State SNAP Data Matching. The study will result in a report for public release; a database that houses data collected on SNAP data-matching processes, sources, procedures, and costs; and a data analytic tool to analyze and view current information on state data-matching information systems and database characteristics. The period of performance for this contract is September 2016 through March 2019. Contact Person: Danielle Deemer, 703-305-2952.

Data Analysis and Reporting - Office of Food Safety and Inspection Services

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been protecting the nation’s food supply since 1906, with the inception of the Federal Meat Inspection Act.  The Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) is the USDA agency responsible for food safety.  The FSIS mission is to ensure that the nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged.  The Data Analysis Staff (DAS) and Inspection Data Analysis Staff (IDAS), within the Office of Data Integration and Food Protection (ODIFP), coordinate FSIS’s data collection, analysis, and integration activities across all program areas.  FSIS contracts with Avar to provide assistance with statistical models; filling ad hoc data requests; and developing and maintaining automated reports and alerts.  Tasks include ad hoc data reporting; dynamic report preparation, automation, and maintenance; static report preparation, automation, and maintenance; analytical design; and predictive analytics. The technical assistance and support that Avar provides help FSIS ensure consistent and high-quality data analyses to inform Agency decisions, anticipate and measure the impacts of policy changes, and identify adverse trends in inspection task data.  Contact Person: Jackson Crockett, 202-690-0896.

Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Evaluation — Office of Food and Nutrition Service

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) was interested in evaluating the effectiveness of nutrition incentives for fruit and vegetable purchases among low-income consumers enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The primary goal of the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Grant Program is to determine whether nutrition incentives at the point of purchase contribute to increased fruit and vegetable purchases and consumption among SNAP participants and whether different approaches are more or less effective than others. Results will provide policymakers in USDA and Congress with credible information on which interventions work best. The evaluation has four components: process evaluation, outcome evaluation, comparative analysis, and technical assistance. As a subcontractor to Westat, Avar abstracted data from FINI grantee proposals to inform the discussions and interactions with the grantees and answer the process evaluation research questions. Avar conducted environmental scans and geocoded the grantee community, such as the geographic, demographic, socioeconomic, and nutrition information in which each program operates. In addition, Avar conducted key informant interviews among grantees and used qualitative software to code and summarize responses. Contact Person: Tracy C. Vericker, 301-251-4242

 

U.S. Department of Commerce

Comprehensive List of Economic Statistical Products Produced by the U.S. Bureau of the Census and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Economics and Statistics Administration

The Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) in the U.S. Department of Commerce asked Avar Consulting to develop a comprehensive list of all the economic statistical products that the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and the U.S. Census Bureau (Census) produce.  Avar economists assisted ESA staff to develop a working definition of the term product and combed BEA’s and Census’s websites to develop a comprehensive list of the two agencies’ economic statistical products.  The list ultimately consisted of 74 products, including 60 products from Census and 14 products from BEA.  Avar’s final product was an Excel file that described these 74 products with data in 28 columns of variables for each product. Contact Person: Rick Lattimer, 202-482-6919

Study of Economic Statistical Products - Economics and Statistics Administration

The Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) in the U.S. Department of Commerce contracted with Avar to study economic statistical products for retail sales and construction.  These two sectors represent 55% of the U.S. economy.  ESA administers the work of the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and the U.S. Census Bureau (Census).  Both BEA and Census create statistical products that seek to measure features of retail sales and construction sectors of the U.S. economy.  ESA asked Avar to examine the processes and content of these products to improve their quality, scope, and timeliness.  ESA also asked Avar to identify alternative sources of information BEA and the Census Bureau could use in addition to or in lieu of surveys as sources of data that generate their economic statistical products.  At ESA’s request, Avar assembled a team of four interdisciplinary experts, including economists and statisticians who understand BEA’s and Census’s economic statistical products to provide advice and insight on these products.  Avar economists interviewed 12 internal stakeholders at both BEA and Census to understand their processes and aspirations for their products.  In addition, Avar conducted in-depth interviews with 12 public and private sector external stakeholders who possess expertise in the retail sales and construction sectors of the economy.  These interviews gleaned stakeholders’ insights into their products’ processes and content.  Avar conducted process analyses of four economic statistical products, including two conventional and two innovative products.  As a result of its research activities, Avar developed a final report that included immediate, intermediary, and long-term recommendations to ESA about procedures to improve its economic statistical products. Contact Person: Rick Lattimer, 202-482-6919.

Survey of 2010 Census Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) Program Participants — U.S. Census Bureau

To prepare for each decennial census, the Geography Division of the U.S. Bureau of the Census sends its records of housing unit addresses to local governments (cities, counties, minor civil divisions) for review, correction, and updating. The Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) Program is a partnership the Census Bureau established under the Census Address List Improvement Act of 1994 (Public Law 103-430). It utilizes the local knowledge of the tribal, state, and local governments to improve the accuracy and completeness of the address list by having the relevant government agencies review and update their portion of the Census Address List prior to each census. Census 2000 was the first one that benefited from this effort and a survey was conducted of the LUCA participants thereafter to collect their feedback. Under a 15-month contract with the Census Bureau, Avar supported the agency in conducting the Survey of the 2010 LUCA Program Participants, a mixed mode survey of approximately 11,500 local governments that participated in updating addresses for the 2010 Census. Data were collected via both USPS mail and the internet. Avar’s responsibilities included: (1) reviewing a draft questionnaire prepared by the division and suggesting revisions in wording, format, and content to improve the validity and reliability of the questionnaire; (2) creating a database to manage and record responses to five different versions of the questionnaire; (3) receiving and processing paper and electronic responses from the local governments; (4) editing the survey data; (5) creating survey data files; (6) analyzing the data; (7) presenting a draft report to the division; and (8) developing a final report in accordance with client comments. Contact Person: Ethel Taylor, 301-763-8439.


U.S. Consumer Expenditure Records Study — U.S. Census Bureau

The U.S. Consumer Expenditure Quarterly Interview Survey (CEQ) is a monthly survey developed and conducted by the Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to capture continuous information about the current buying habits of American consumers. Since the CEQ is a long, complex survey requiring a high level of burden for the respondent, the Census Bureau and the BLS are concerned that the CEQ might be subject to various forms of measurement errors because of underreporting. To investigate and reduce underreporting of household expenditures in the CEQ, the Census Bureau conducted a study, the U.S. Consumer Expenditure Records Study, to explore the extent to which measurement error was a problem as well as to investigate the use of respondent records to reduce error.  As a subcontractor with RTI International on this project, Avar assisted in developing the survey methodology, interview protocols, and data analysis plan; conducted quantitative and qualitative analyses of several subsets of the survey data; and prepared relevant sections of the final study report. Contact Person: Emily (McFarlane) Geisen, 919-541-6566.

Research and Development 2014: Assessment, Planning, and Analysis — U.S. Census Bureau

As the leading source of quality data about the nation’s people and economy, the Census Bureau needs to stay abreast of the latest statistical, methodological, and technological advances. Under this five-year multiple-award IDIQ contract, Avar will provide the Census Bureau with research and development support and services in six (6) sub-areas: survey planning; cost and workload modeling; survey assessment; survey management assistance; technical analyses; and technology assessment. Contact Person: Kristee Camilletti, 301-763-2870.

U.S. Department of Defense

 

U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences (ARI) Survey Operation Support Services

Managing the Army’s manpower requirements during an evolving global strategic environment requires that the Army’s senior leaders have accurate and up-to-date information on Soldiers’ attitudes and opinions on an array of personnel issues. The accuracy and timeliness of the attitude and opinion information provided to decision makers are of paramount importance in affecting the quality of decisions and personnel policies. As new policies are developed to enhance the Army’s ability to staff the force, the Army needs survey research and analysis to gather and analyze data on the implementation and expected or actual effectiveness of those policies. The objective of this IDIQ contract is to provide comprehensive support to conduct attitude and opinion surveys in support of ARI’s scientific and technology program. As a subcontractor to Data Recognition Corporation, Avar supported a broad range of survey-related services including database development and maintenance; postal address confirmation; paper, online, and telephone-based survey development, implementation, and support; and data collection monitoring and management. For the 2016 Sample Survey of Military Personnel (SSMP), Avar developed syntax programming and recoded all the 60 variables and created composite variables for the paper and web combined data file of the survey. Contact Person: Valerie Waller, 763-0268-2166

 

U.S. Department of Education

 

Education Statistics Support Institute Network (ESSIN) 2012-2016,  National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

The Education Statistics Support Institute Network (ESSIN) is an IDIQ contract that provides statistical support to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), U.S. Department of Education. The Education Statistics Support Institute Network (ESSIN) provides NCES technical assistance and expert advice to support its national and international data collections and assessments, analyses, methodological research, statistical product preparation, and training programs.  The ESSI Network also assists NCES in responding to the changing needs of data users, adapting rapidly to changing priorities and policy foci, and incorporating the latest scientific advances in how statistical and assessment studies are designed, fielded, analyzed, and reported.  ESSIN also supports the timely release of high-quality data and analyses of NCES data. The work of the ESSIN falls into four broad project categories: statistical methodology research, analyses and reporting, development, project support: The individual task orders may involve one or a combination of all four types of work to be performed.  Avar has received both prime and subcontracts under seven task orders since first receiving the IDIQ.


Task Orders 1 and 2: Statistical Standards Program Support (Avar Prime)

These tasks provide statistical and technical support services to the Statistical Standards and Data Confidentiality staff at NCES. Activities include reviewing NCES products for accuracy and also compliance with the NCES Statistical Standards; reviewing products developed by academics and other restricted-use data licensees for data disclosure risks; updating and compiling chapters for the NCES Handbook of Survey Methods; monitoring data quality in NCES data collections; and developing and maintaining the ED Data Inventory, which is a database containing hundreds of thousands of pieces of metadata about NCES and ED data collections. Activities also include providing summer interns for NCES staff and responding to ad-hoc statistical and technical requests. For example, Avar conducted a review of the websites of all of the Federal statistical agencies in order to advise NCES on how agencies were defining “STEM,” produced a crosswalk of survey items contained within NCES and ECLS instruments to identify similarities and differences among items, and built an SQL database and accompanying Access data entry interface to assist NCES in the management of its contractor security investigations. Previous activities included reviewing disclosure risk avoidance plans and monitoring the use of NCES data in professional journals, education association websites, and Congressional testimony. The project began in October 2011 and has been ongoing since then, renewed annually. Contact Person: Marilyn M. Seastrom, 202-502-7303.

Task Order 4: Elementary and Secondary Longitudinal Support (Avar Prime)In this task, the Avar team supported three large-scale longitudinal studies of elementary and secondary education: the National Education Longitudinal Study of 8th graders (NELS: 88), the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS: 2002), and the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS: 09).  All three studies are currently in various follow-up stages. Support activities included conducting special studies/analyses using data collected from these surveys; developing research syntheses, Stats in Brief publications, web tables, issue briefs, research papers, and compendia; reviewing questionnaires/assessment instruments; producing and checking sampling plans and data collection strategies; evaluating field test procedures and surveys; reviewing Office of Management and Budget (OMB) clearance packages and data collection activities; conducting non-response bias analysis and quality control checks; developing composite statistics and weights; producing data files and documentation; training users in the use of longitudinal databases; and compiling annotated bibliographies of publications using data from the three surveys. Contact Person: Isaiah L. O’Rear, 202-502-7378.

Task Order 14: NAEP Statistical and Psychometric Methodology Support

As a subcontractor to American Institutes for Research (AIR), Avar staff work closely with AIR to conduct research studies, disseminate the results of such studies, attend research meetings, support NCES in checking the quality of research conducted by several contractors, and support NCES with analyzing existing NAEP data. The project team conducts up to 10 studies and 15 technical memos on emerging NAEP issues to assess the value of potential changes in the technical design of NAEP and the analysis of NAEP data. The project also supports technical reviews of NAEP products. Each NAEP report, along with associated electronic products and technical documentation, requires a thorough review to assure they meet NCES standards for quality and accuracy. The goal of this review is to maintain and improve the technical quality of NAEP products by supporting technical reviews at the Assessment Division level. Additionally, this task supports developing, maintaining, and reviewing statistical, methodological, and quality standards and provides NAEP staff with statistical support related to reporting. Contact Person: Mary Ann Fox, 202-403-6103.

Task Order 20: Common Core of Data (CCD) SupportThis task order provided support to the NCES Common Core of Data (CCD) staff to ensure data quality, improve statistical methodology, and increase production efficiency of data files and reports, including data reviews, correction of prior years’ files and reports, web reviews, response to quick turnaround data requests, workshop/conference support, and research projects. As a subcontractor to American Institutes for Research (AIR), Avar was responsible for providing analytical and technical support to this task. Data reviews, web reviews, and correction of prior years’ files and reports cover three CCD non-fiscal surveys (state level, school district level, and school level), two CCD fiscal surveys (state level and school district level), and the Teacher Compensation Survey. Avar staff also supported NCES in response to quick turnaround data requests from Congress, other Department of Education programs and offices, NCES Commissioner’s office, media reporters, and researchers; provided technical and analytical support to workshops and conferences where CCD data files are used such as CCD New Coordinator Workshops, Management Information Systems (MIS) Conference, and NCES Summer Data Conference; and carried out specific assignments given by NCES as needed. Contact Person: Mary Ann Fox, 202-403-6103.

Task Order 25: PACE Support Task

The Department of Education’s Postsecondary, Adult, and Career Education (PACE) division focuses on formal and informal education beyond high school, and through a series of research programs, collects data from institutions, students, and administrative data systems. NCES piloted the Adult Training and Education Study (ATES), which focused on measuring the prevalence of educational certificates and industry-recognized certifications in the adult population. Given the uncertainty in the results of the enumeration of certificate holders from ATES, NCES sought to undertake additional item development activities to improve the measurement of adults holding certificates. American Institutes for Research (AIR) was contracted to improve the measurement of these types of credentials. As a subcontractor to AIR, Avar was responsible for recruiting participants for three focus groups, coordinating all logistics, moderating the three focus groups, and writing the summary reports. Contact Person: Stephanie Cronen, 202-403-5000.

Task Order 32: District and School Recruitment for NCES Surveys

Under this task order Avar, and its subcontractor Westat, Inc., assisted NCES staff with recruitment for NCES studies. Avar reviewed how different program areas both within NCES and in other federal agencies seek approval from PreK-12 public districts and schools, identified best practices from these current procedures, and developed recommendations for conducting these operations in future studies. In the base year, Avar identified and conducted a thorough analysis of effective recruitment practices across “a range of federal data collections involving schools. Using the information obtained in the research, Avar assisted NCES in revising recruitment materials for several surveys. Avar conducted recruitment for special districts for the 2017-2018 National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS) and the 2017-2018 School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS). Avar identified all application requirements for each district, completed and submitted all application materials, and conducted outreach and follow-up with the districts to encourage their participation in the surveys. The period of performance for this contract was 2016 through 2018. Contact Person: Andrew Zukerberg 202-245-6186 and Rachel Hansen 202-245-7082.

The International and Foreign Language Education Evaluation Project: Descriptive Data Analysis, Reporting, and Presentation – International and Foreign Language Education (IFLE)

The International and Foreign Language Education (IFLE) office within the Office of Postsecondary Education, of the U.S. Department of Education manages institutional and fellowship grant programs whose purpose is to strengthen the capability and performance of American education in foreign languages and in area and international studies. IFLE collects descriptive data about the various programs through performance reports submitted via a web-based reporting system, and from the Congressionally-mandated Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship program tracking survey. These data hold insight into activities and outputs in the field, and can potentially be used to demonstrate the effectiveness and results of IFLE programs. IFLE wishes to develop reports that will effectively organize and present these data to audiences including Congress and the public. Under this contract, Avar is analyzing data elements from grant performance reports and surveys; making recommendations for changes to surveys and reports; and producing charts, graphs and tables that illustrate quantitative data taken from the surveys and performance reports. Contact Person: Sara Starke, 202-453-7681.

Evaluation of Promoting Rigorous Career and Technical Education Programs of Study through Statewide and Multi-state Articulation Agreements Grant Project — Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE)

Under a contract with the Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE), Avar conducted an evaluation of the Promoting Rigorous Career and Technical Education Programs of Study through Statewide and Multi-state Articulation Agreements (RPOS1) grant program from September 30, 2013 – September 29, 2014. The 2-year discretionary grant program sought to promote the development of rigorous programs of study supported by statewide or multistate articulation agreements as part of OCTAE’s efforts to address the requirements of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006. To determine the effectiveness of the grants in stimulating the development of sustainable programs of study, Avar conducted a multistep program evaluation of the grantees. Avar staff developed a self-assessment tool that states used to capture their experience in developing and implementing the grants prior to the site visits and finalized the instrument as a web-based tool accessible to all states and localities wishing to assess their readiness for implementing rigorous programs of study. Avar conducted a review of all available program-related documentation held by the Department of Education and a series of interviews with all RPOS1 program grantees. Using these data, Avar developed a sample of states for site visits. Three states were chosen for multi-day site visits that involved a review of all available qualitative and quantitative program information; individual interviews with program personnel; visits to schools implementing the programs; and focus groups with the teachers, students, and representatives of businesses and industries involved with the program of study. Avar produced reports at the completion of each phase of the evaluation and prepared a final report that includes: a description of the purpose and design of the RPOS1 project, an overview of statewide articulation agreements and why they are important, case studies of select states that have successfully implemented articulation agreements, an analysis of lessons learned, challenges encountered, and recommendations for the development and implementation of programs of study and articulation agreements. The final report concludes with recommendations for how OCTAE could effectively use future federal investments to support the development of articulation agreements as part of rigorous programs of study. Contact Person: Gregory Henschel, 202-245-7661

U.S. Participation in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2015 – National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the U.S. Department of Education supports a variety of international activities to collect and report data on education in the United States and other countries. These include TIMSS, PIRLS, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).  TIMSS is an international assessment that focuses on the mathematics and science knowledge and skill of fourth-and eighth-graders. Westat, Inc. is contracted with NCES to implement the U.S. participation in 2015 TIMSS. As a subcontractor to Westat, Avar will complete a comparison study of TIMMS with their U.S. counterpart focusing on assessment goals, frameworks, and cognitive items. This study consisted of activities such as: (1) reviewing TIMSS frameworks; (2) convening a meeting of external experts to cross compare the items in the TIMSS test; and (3) performing analysis. Based on the study results, Avar produced one research paper comparing TIMSS with NAEP on mathematics and science at the 4th and 8th grade levels. Avar also produced the released item sets of TIMSS and disseminating them to the U.S. public via a web portal, CDs/DVDs, and print media. Contact Person: David Kastberg, 301-294-3811. 

U.S. Participation in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2011 and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2011 – National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the U.S. Department of Education supports a variety of international activities to collect and report data on education in the United States and other countries. These include TIMSS, PIRLS, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).  TIMSS is an international assessment that focuses on the mathematics and science knowledge and skill of fourth-and eighth-graders, while PIRLS is an international assessment that focuses on the reading knowledge and skills of fourth-grade students. NAEP is a U.S. national assessment that measures fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-grade students’ performance in reading, mathematics, and science. All three assessments are conducted regularly to allow the monitoring of student outcomes over time. Westat, Inc. is contracted with NCES to implement the U.S. participation in TIMSS and PIRLS. As a subcontractor to Westat, Avar recently completed a comparison study of these international assessments with their U.S. counterpart focusing on assessment goals, frameworks, and cognitive items. This study consisted of activities such as: (1) reviewing the NAEP, TIMSS, and PIRLS frameworks; (2) convening a meeting of external experts to cross compare the items in the three tests; (3) performing analyses of the reading passages in PIRLS and NAEP; and (4) providing summary statistics and analysis of the outcomes of these reviews and comparison. Based on the study results, Avar produced two research papers: one comparing TIMSS with NAEP on mathematics and science at the 4th and 8th grade levels and the other comparing PIRLS with NAEP on reading at the 4th grade level.  Avar also produced the released item sets of TIMSS and PIRLS and disseminating them to the U.S. public via a web portal, CDs/DVDs, and print media. The items sets were in two formats: one with each release item accompanied by its associated scoring guide and statistics on the percentage of students in the participating countries that correctly answered the item; and the other with items alone without the scoring guide and statistics. Contact Person: David Kastberg, 301-294-3811. 

Professional Development Impact Study (Reading) — National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Under the No Child Left Behind legislation, the U.S. Department of Education contracted with the American Institutes for Research (AIR), along with MDRC, Sopris West, and REDA International, to conduct a five-year quasi-experimental study to assess the impact of professional development on reading instruction and student achievement. The study was focused on second grade teachers who were already using popular scientifically based reading programs: Open Court Reading or Houghton-Mifflin’s Nation’s Choice or Legacy of Literacy. Under a consulting agreement with the AIR/REDA team, Avar participated in classroom observations to identify the difference in teaching instructions between teachers in the experimental and control groups as well their behavioral change over time. Contact Person: Dr. Stephanie Cronen, 202-403-5368.

U.S. Department of Energy

2018 Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey and 2018 Commercial Building Energy Supplier Survey – Energy Information Administration

The CBECS is a national multistage area sample survey, supplemented by lists of special buildings. The survey was first conducted in 1979 and was then conducted triennially between 1983 and 1995. It was conducted quadrennially between 1995 and 2007. The most recently completed survey was the tenth CBECS iteration and covered data year 2012. Prior to 1989, the CBECS was known as the Nonresidential Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (NBECS).  The data are used for policy planning and for forecasting energy consumption. EIA makes the data made available to the public through tables, reports, and public use data files. Avar is a subcontractor to Leidos.  Avar is making recommendations on approaches to test new methods to develop and update a sample frame of commercial buildings and providing input on the implementation of an experiment to test new methods that modernize sources, technology, tools, and processes for developing and updating the sample frame.  Avar will provide input and independent review concerning the feasibility and validity of new data collection, tools, methods, and sources to add long-term value to the CBECS program.  Avar will also provide input and independent review of the testing and evaluation of an experiment to test data collection, tools, methods, and sources.  Avar will assist in the development of a plan for sampling, data collection, and estimation methodologies to serve a Tenant Star program to characterize energy us in separate tenant spaces with multi-tenant buildings.  This task will consist of Avar developing the survey approach, including frame, sampling, imputation, weighting and estimation strategy, and developing an optimal collection mode for tenants.  Contact Person: Jay Ratafia-Brown (571) 526-7727

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Evaluation of TOGETHER: A Couples' Model to Enhance Relationships and Economic Stability - Office of Family Assistance (OFA), Administration for Children and Families (ACF)

Avar conducted a local impact evaluation of TOGETHER: A Couples' Model to Enhance Relationships and Economic Stability, a grant program funded by the Administration for Children and Families as part of the Healthy Marriage initiative. The evaluation assessed the impact of the proposed interventions on low-income couple’s couple relationships and economic stability/mobility (outcome evaluation) and examined the process during which these interventions were implemented and services delivered (process and program fidelity monitoring evaluation). Avar utilized a RCT (randomized control trial) design to establish the expected effects and impacts of a relationship education intervention.  Avar designed the evaluation study, developed the sample, developed the data collections instruments (including training observation protocols, participant satisfaction survey, and fidelity checklists), and collected data for the comprehensive evaluation.  Avar used a mixed method approach to gather both qualitative and quantitative data.  Avar conducted training observations, key personnel interviews, online surveys, implementation fidelity observations, data collection, data entry, focus groups, site visits, program monitoring, pre and post intervention on-line and paper surveys, and six-month follow up surveys. Avar completed summary reports, continuous application packages, and the process evaluation report for the first year.  Staff also briefed the client on lessons learned during the first year. In the second year, Avar conducted process evaluation data collection and reporting, sending out paper surveys to collect data, developed new instruments (including the case management observation protocol), conducted outcome analysis, completed the Year 2 process and outcome evaluation report, and prepared for and participated in ACF’s site visit. Avar created data collection monitoring reports, produced monthly and quarterly progress reports, and assisted the program operation team from Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland at College Park to complete their Quarterly Performance Reports and Semi-Annual Performance Progress Reports.  Contact Person: Mariana Falconier, 240-743-9276.

2011-2015 Annual Survey of Refugees — Office of Refugee Resettlement, Administration for Children and Families

Avar completed data collection on a five-year contract with the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to conduct the 2011–15 Annual Survey of Refugees. To follow up and assess the refugees’ adjustment to the United States, telephone surveys of approximately 2,500 refugee households and 7,000–10,000 individuals was conducted each year since the 1970s to collect data on the status of their English proficiency, education, employment, income, self-sufficiency, and use of available government programs. Some of the issues were addressed at the individual level while others at the household level. Each cohort of the sampled refugees was followed for 5 years, and each year a new cohort was added to the sample while an old cohort was retired. Specific tasks included: (1) assisting ORR in questionnaire revision and sampling design; (2) tracing the sampled refugees on an ongoing basis; (3) collecting survey data via the internet and computer-assisted telephone interviews in over a dozen languages; (4) processing survey data; (5) creating cross-sectional and longitudinal data files at both the individual and household levels; (6) performing basic and post-stratification weighting; (7) conducting cross-sectional and longitudinal data analyses; (8) presenting analysis results in appropriate graphics; (9) preparing cross-sectional and longitudinal data files; (10) designing experiments to improve survey responses (e.g., the best means and timing of providing incentives; (11) providing multi-language introduction of the project on a website to better engage the refugee participants; (12) briefings to the client on survey methodology; and (13) preparing the “Economic Adjustment” section of ORR’s Annual Report to Congress. Contact Person: Wanda Hall, 202-401-4646.


2006-2010 Annual Surveys of Refugees — Office of Refugee Resettlement, Administration for Children and Families

Under a subcontract with DB Consulting Group, Inc., Avar was responsible for constructing the sampling frame; editing, cleaning, validating, and weighing the survey data; performing data imputation where necessary; creating cross-sectional and longitudinal datasets; furnishing documentation for the data files; conducting both cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses using univariate, bivariate, and multivariate statistical techniques; producing graphic presentations; and participating in the preparation of the ORR Annual Report to the Congress. Data validation/processing involved logic checks to identify out-of-range values and data elements inconsistent with the design format; internal consistency tests of key measures; identification of outliers; and cross-validation of key variables with baseline data, with other similar studies, or with known population statistics (Census, etc.). Contact Person: Rebekah Brown, 301-589-3955.

Evaluation of the “Communities Choosing” Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program – Administration for Children and Families (ACF)

Funded by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), this was a multi-year program implemented in the San Francisco middle schools. The multi-year evaluation was conducted by the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley. Avar contracted with UC Berkeley to perform statistical analysis of the pre- and post-intervention survey data and prepare the quantitative analysis report. Contact Person: Sukari Ivester, 510-643-3366.

 

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Development of a National Online Library of Healthcare Services Datasets and Databases - Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

With the increasing costs of healthcare, it has become more important than ever to use health services efficiently, yet care and information about care are often collected and delivered in isolation without coordination across sites or providers of care. Funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), this project was intended to comprehensively inventory all healthcare data collection initiatives (e.g., administrative datasets, survey data, distributed datasets) in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, as well as other specific geographic areas of particular interest (e.g., health planning areas, multi-state regions), and to provide guidance to the AHRQ on the potential synergy across such initiatives and how the data and information that they collected and maintained might be used to inform Federal, state, and local healthcare policymakers, clinicians, and consumers. As a subcontractor with Econometrica, Inc., Avar designed and developed an online inventory of all the relevant datasets. It consisted of a back-end relational database that interfaces with a website portal to enable both public and security-protected online search and data access. The back-end relational database contained a description of each of the healthcare service datasets, name of the funding agency/organization, location of the dataset, name and contact information of the managing agency/organization, as well as the format of each key data element. The front-end portal presented itself on a well-designed website that allowed users to search by keywords and apply multiple filters on a variety of criteria to obtain information in accordance with their designated level of access. Using the search result, the user was able to visit the actual dataset; export what they found; and save, share, or modify their search. The system was built in compliance with NIST Special Publication 800 and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The project commenced in August 2008 and concluded in March 2009. Contact Person: Richard Hilton, 301-657-1035. 

 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Improving Operational Efficiency and Effectiveness of Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Systems - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response is critical for the nation’s interests. As disasters increase in scale, frequency, length, and type, threats to public health increase. Being prepared to prevent, respond to, and recover from disasters whether caused by natural, accidental, or international means is essential to protect and secure our nation’s public health. Since 2002, the federal government has invested nearly $9 billion to public health departments across the nation to update their ability to effectively respond to a range of public health threats through the Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response (PHEP) cooperative agreement. In March 2011, CDC developed 15 public health preparedness capabilities to serve as national public health preparedness standards. The capabilities provide state and local public health departments with guidance on organizing their preparedness activities, planning their priorities, and deciding which capabilities they have the resources to build or sustain. The national standards also ensure that federal preparedness funds are directed to priority areas within individual jurisdictions. While awardee states or entities receive cooperative agreement funds, they are required to provide data for assessing their public health emergency preparedness and response systems. However, evaluating these assessment measures or developing reliable and valid measures is now demanded by Congress and the public for the purpose of accountability, system improvement, and advancement of knowledge. Policymakers and the public need to know how well these systems are working, what and where improvements should be made, and whether the public health department’s levels of preparedness have been improving.  The purpose of this project was to assess how the national standards are being utilized to improve public health preparedness at the state and local levels and how well these standards were utilized in recent events. Avar developed and conducted a web-based survey of all 62 PHEP grantees. Using the survey results we selected a number of PHEP grantees to conduct in-depth case studies to examine planning and coordination around the national standards during actual events and identify cross-cutting lessons learned for improving preparedness performance. Avar analyzed the data and developed a detailed internal report of the findings and a research paper titled “How Health Department Contextual Factors Impact Public Health Preparedness (PHP) and Perceptions of the 15 PHP Capabilities”  that was published in  American Journal of Public Health Supplement 2, 2017, vol107, No. 52 as well as a brief report titled “How Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) Awardees Use the 15 Public Health Preparedness Capabilities” that was submitted to Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness; Contact Person: Shoukat Qari, 770-488-8808.

Improving the Understanding of Traumatic Brain Injury through Policy and Program Evaluation Research – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Every year, more than 7 million U.S. high school students participate in organized sports. The increasing incidence of concussions or traumatic brain injuries (TBI) due to youth sports has become a growing problem and poses serious long-term health risks for young athletes if TBI symptoms are left untreated. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed the “Heads Up” education campaign, which focuses on raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of concussions and improving the management of concussions among youth athletes. Additionally, 48 states and the District of Columbia have also taken the initiative and passed legislation requiring that athletes with suspected concussions be removed from play until evaluated by a clinician. The CDC contracted CSR, Incorporated to examine the impact of state laws on the awareness, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors regarding concussions among the coaches, youth athletes, and parents of the athletes. The study population consisted of youth athletes (boys and girls) ages 14–18 as well their parents and coaches of soccer clubs affiliated with the U.S. Youth Soccer Association (USYSA). A stratified random sample of soccer clubs from USYSA was drawn from three strata representing different types of return-to play laws that correspond to their respective state. All participants were asked to complete a pre-season survey while youth athletes and their parents also responded to weekly surveillance surveys. As a subcontractor with CSR Incorporated, Avar offered its expertise in survey methodology and developed the data collection plan; directed the sampling frame construction activities; developed and directed the sampling plan; recruited 115 youth soccer teams to participate in the study; and conducted mixed-mode surveys of coaches, athletes, and parents via internet and mail. Contact Person:  Sherry Tate-Yeager 703-741-7117.

State of Maryland

2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016 Maryland Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) Monitoring and Coordination — Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE)

The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) was developed in 1990 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to monitor priority health risk behaviors such as tobacco use, unhealthy dietary behaviors, physical inactivity, alcohol & other drug use, sexual behavior/STDs/ HIV/AIDS/unintended pregnancies, and violence/injury. Maryland began conducting the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) in 2005. Students in grades 9–12 are surveyed in the spring of odd years.  Since 2013, the Maryland YRBS and the Maryland Youth Tobacco Survey (YTS) have been combined to include both high and middle school students and conducted in the fall of even years.  Avar has been supporting YRBS/YTRBS under multiple contracts with the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) since 2008. Avar coordinated the sampling and data collection activities of the 2009, 2011 Maryland YRBS and the Maryland 2013 and 2014 YTRBS, monitored survey data analyses, interpreted data analysis results, participated in the design and development of the final report, performed in-depth analyses regarding significant issues, and presented analysis findings to schools and school districts via various professional conferences. In 2016, Avar conducted analysis and prepared a PowerPoint presentation for the client using 2014 School Health Profiles Data. Contact Person: Alicia L. Mezu, 410-767-0353.

The State of Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) — Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) 
To ensure compliance with constitutional mandates and M/WBE best practices, Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) conducts a series of studies to examine the past and current status of M/WBEs in the State’s geographic and product markets for contracting and procurement, to provide the evidentiary record necessary for the State’s consideration of whether to implement renewed M/WBE policies that comply with the requirements of the courts, and to assess the extent to which previous efforts have assisted M/WBEs to participate on a fair basis in the State’s contracting and procurement activity. Under a subcontract with RK&K, LLC, Avar provided statistical consultation to MDOT with regard to the design and results of these studies. Specific tasks included: (1) advising MDOT on general principles, statistical issues, and methodologies involved in setting goals for MBE/DBE participation; (2) advising MDOT on the usefulness of various databases for calculation of MBE/DBE availability and performing preliminary data analyses as needed; (3) assisting MDOT in computing MBE/DBE availability figures and making appropriate adjustments of such figures; (4) advising MDOT staff on any statistical issues that may arise in connection with the MBE Disparity Study; and (5) providing assistance in litigation related matters. Contact Person: Richelle Thomas, 410-865-1242.

Data Collection Support and Analytic Report Development — Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC)The Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) is required by law to analyze and report on health care utilization and spending in Maryland. To support these activities, the MHCC developed the Maryland Medical Care Data Base (MCDB), which contains information on health professional services and prescription drugs provided to Maryland residents. Each year, all the healthcare providers and prescription drug providers in Maryland are required to submit their service records to MCDB. As a subcontractor with the Social & Scientific Systems (SSS), Inc., Avar provided SAS programming and statistical analysis support in collecting, processing, validating, editing, analyzing, and reporting these data on an annual basis. The annual reports included: Report on State Health Care Expenditures for Maryland Residents, Report on Practitioner Payments and Utilization, and Report on Prescription Drug Spending in the State. All reports provided comparisons of the Maryland spending and utilization patterns and trends with those in neighboring states and the nation. Contact Person: Katrina Hedlesky, 301-628-3210.

 

Evaluation of the Effect of Increased State Aid to Local School Systems through the Bridge to Excellence Act — Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) 

Under the Bridge to Excellence Act in 2003–04, each local school system in Maryland developed and started implementing a five-year comprehensive Master Plan outlining the goals, objectives, and strategies for improving student achievement and meeting Maryland’s performance standards. The State funding for education was increased to finance the initiative. The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) awarded a contract to MGT of America, along with REDA International Inc., to conduct a comprehensive review and evaluation of the effect of increased state aid to local school systems on student, school, and school system performance. Under an agreement with the MGT/REDA team, Avar was responsible for editing and weighting the survey data collected from the school principals and Master Plan committee members, performing statistical analyses to address the relevant evaluation questions, and assisting in the preparation of the survey report. Contact Person: Jerry Ciesla, 850-386-3191.

Prince George’s County, Maryland

 

In-Depth Evaluation of the Financial Incentive Rewards to Supervisors and Teachers (FIRST) Program—Board of Education of Prince George’s County:

In 2007, Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) was one of 18 grant recipients of the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF), a new funding initiative of the United States Department of Education that was designed to address the teacher quality disparity that existed in lower‐income communities. With the TIF funds, PGCPS in collaboration with other stakeholders developed the Financial Rewards for Supervisors and Teachers (FIRST) program during the first year of the grant. During years two through five, the program was rolled out and implemented in a total of 42 schools. The goals of FIRST were to: (1) develop and refine a comprehensive teacher and administrator compensation system that rewarded student achievement improvements; (2) attract, develop, and retain highly qualified, effective teachers and administrators; and (3) develop and refine a standards-based, research-proven evaluation system for participating teachers and administrators. To meet these goals, the FIRST program consisted of four components: professional development, evaluation, leadership, and hard‐to‐staff subjects. Measurement, Inc. (MI) was contracted to conduct an in-depth evaluation of the FIRST program. As a subcontractor with MI, Avar assisted in conducting in-person interviews with the key PGCPS program staff, observed data collection platforms and processes during site visits, collected data on teacher and administrator outcomes and student academic achievement, developed evaluation and data analysis plans, performed data analyses using various statistical techniques (e.g., descriptive statistics, paired t-tests, correlations, multiple regression), analyzed qualitative data, produced data analysis reports, and assisted in the preparation of the final summative evaluation report. Contact person: Shelly Menendez, 630-857-9592.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

VA Disaster Resilience Survey Project – Veterans Emergency Management Evaluation Center (VEMEC)

The Veterans Emergency Management Evaluation Center (VEMEC) in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) seeks to promote the health and social welfare of America’s Veterans and the nation by initiating and coordinating projects to develop evidence-based practices for use in mitigating against, preparing for, responding to, and recovering from national emergencies and natural disasters.  VEMEC required a survey to contribute a foundational assessment of disaster resilience and preparedness among Veterans, provide vital data to understand what factors impact their disaster resilience, and assess the degree to which Veterans are equipped and willing to participate in community disaster preparedness. As a subcontractor to Advanced Survey Design, LLC, a Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business in Monterey, California, Avar is producing the sample design, pre-field research, a limited literature review, questionnaire design, fieldwork, sample weighting, dataset specifications, data analysis, and report writing. Contact Person: Aram Dobalian (VA) - aram.dobalian@va.gov and Gerald Pearman (ASD) 831-869-5125

Survey of Veteran Enrollees’ Health and Use of Health Care and Survey of Veteran Beneficiaries of Caregiver Support – Veterans Health Administration (VHA)

This contract seeks to gather information to inform Veterans Health Administration (VHA) policy and planning. Under this contract, Avar supports an annual survey of Veterans enrolled (SoE) in VA health care to gather information about factors that influence their use of VHA services and programs relative to their use of non-VA health care services and programs. Topics of interest include enrollees’ perceived health status, overall demographics, use of prescriptions, and available insurances. The first two years of the contract included an additional effort, the Survey of Caregivers and a Survey of Veterans Enrolled in the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC). As a subcontractor to Advanced Survey Design, LLC, a Service Disabled Veteran-Owen Small Business in Monterey, California, Avar has assisted in the OMB process and the development of the new survey instrument, and annually supports sample stratification, survey administration, data analysis, and preparation of the Annual report of findings and the methodology report. For this web (CAWI)  and paper survey (PAPI) Avar operates the SoE Help Desk during the survey fielding period and conducts computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) to complete data collection for each strata in the sample.  Contact Person: Laura Bowman (VA) 202-461-7108 and Gerald Pearman (ASD) 831-869-5125

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid

Beneficiary and Family Centered Care Quality Improvement Organization (BFCC QIO) Indefinite Duration, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Contract – Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS)

In March 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services selected Avar Consulting, Inc. as a Beneficiary and Family Centered Care Quality Improvement Organization (BFCC QIO) awardee.  Through this 5-year, Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract, Avar will be eligible to bid on task orders that support the BFCC provisions of the Medicare Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) Program during the 12th Scope of Work.  Mandated by federal law, the mission of the QIO Program is to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, economy, and quality of services delivered to Medicare beneficiaries.  Contact Person: Confidence Gbarayor, 410-786-0553.

As a BFCC-QIO IDIQ contractor under the new CMS IDIQ contract mechanism to support quality improvement and innovation efforts, each BFCC-QIO IDIQ contractor may serve as:

  • Quality Improvement Experts

  • Facilitators/change agents for healthcare transformation that promotes high quality of care and services for Medicare beneficiaries

  • Innovators of quality improvement

 

As a BFCC-QIO IDIQ awardee, Avar Consulting, Inc. has demonstrated healthcare quality improvement expertise. Services supported by some of the BFCC-QIO IDIQ awardees may include:

  • Case review services to improve healthcare delivery through a wide variety of statutory review functions, including but not limited to beneficiary complaints and quality of care reviews and handling hospital discharge and termination of other types of service appeals.

  • Claim review/validation services to reduce improper payments by identifying and addressing coverage and coding billing errors for all provider types.

  • Beneficiary/Stakeholder engagement activities that focus on building and maintaining beneficiary support systems including innovative activities that increase beneficiary knowledge, skill, and confidence to take an active role in managing their health and healthcare.

  • Analytics and Data-Driven Improvements, Innovation, and Collaboration to identify quality improvement efforts that target specific populations (beneficiaries and providers), health care settings, communities or state(s).

  • Ongoing BFCC program monitoring and evaluation including recommendations that support continuous quality improvement and innovative opportunities.

Beneficiary and Family-Centered Care National Coordinating and Oversight Review Center (BFCC NCORC) – Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS)

Under CMS’ BFCC QIO IDIQ Task Order 0001 “BFCC NCORC” awarded on May 8, 2019, Avar will operationalize this 5-year, multimillion-dollar project by supporting the BFCC provisions of the Medicare Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) Program during the 12th Scope of Work. The BFCC services includes four core functions: Beneficiary Oversight; Beneficiary Protection; Beneficiary and Stakeholder Engagement; and BFCC Data Analytics and Management.

In carrying out its responsibilities to provide support and expertise to all BFCC-QIO functions, Avar, as the NCORC, will work collaboratively with CMS contractors and other federal and state entities.  Specifically, the BFCC NCORC shall: 1) support and assist CMS for all BFCC-QIO-related activities; 2) identify problematic issues, perform root cause analysis, and make recommendations regarding solutions for all BFCC-QIO activities; 3) provide recommendations to CMS regarding implementation of national initiatives and Task Orders that are effective in producing results related to all BFCC-QIO activities; 4) provide assistance and support upon request to CMS related to the use of the CMS- designated Case Review Systems and applications to support all BFCC-QIO activities; 5) assist CMS in providing the BFCC community with CMS-approved instructions and guidance related to all BFCC-QIO activities; 6) assist CMS in answering all BFCC-related questions and upon CMS approval provide answers to the BFCC community, stakeholders, providers and other CMS contractors as directed by CMS; and 7) collaborate with national experts, CMS leadership, CMS partners, stakeholders and beneficiaries through any CMS implemented initiative such as, a National Patient and Family Engagement Campaign, or any other campaign or initiative per CMS direction and guidance.

As the NCORC, Avar will work with BFCC-QIOs to improve healthcare services for Medicare beneficiaries by coordinating numerous statutory review functions, including but not be limited to, quality of care reviews, beneficiary complaint reviews, discharge and termination of service appeals in various provider settings, medical necessity reviews, and Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) reviews. Avar will also facilitate communications between CMS and the QIOs with a focus on consistency across reviews, make recommendations for initiatives to improve case review quality, assure that QIOs have information and resources needed, and provide technical assistance and support to the BFCC-QIOs.  Contact Person:  Contract Office Representative (COR) - Cheryl Lehane, 617-565-1215
 

Beneficiary and Family-Centered Care Oversight & Review Center (BFCC ORC) – Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS)

Avar operates the Beneficiary and Family Centered Care Oversight & Review Center (BFCC ORC) under a five-year multitask contract with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). The BFCC ORC supports CMS’s Beneficiary and Family Centered Care Oversight Quality Improvement Organization (BFCC QIO) program, a component of the QIO 11th Scope of Work. The BFCC ORC’s role is to support the improvement of Medicare beneficiary health care and reduce costs by focusing on continuous improvement across the BFCC QIO Program. During the base year of the contract, Avar provided consultant and survey program support services to assist in the development, administration, analysis and reporting on surveys of Medicare beneficiaries experiences with the services provided by the QIOs through the Beneficiary Experience Survey (the Survey)  Avar and its partners also developed and implemented an inter-rater reliability methodology to monitor BFCC-QIO case review effectiveness and quality; and identify areas for improvement of process.  In Option Year 1 (OY1), the ORC focused primarily on the Survey, specifically a complete redesign of the survey instrument and conversion to an alternate data collection methodology using primarily telephonic methods along with mail and web options.  The redesigned survey was submitted to OMB in OY1 and was approved in its entirety in Option Year 2 (OY2).  As a result of these new approaches to data collection for the Survey, response rates increased an average of 20 percentage points more than mail alone.  All data collected from the Survey is available via a Survey Reporting Dashboard and can be accessed by the BFCC QIOs and CMS.  As a culmination of our work in OY2, Avar was nominated for the 2018 CMS Health Equity Award and was the recipient of the CMS Quality Coin for outstanding efforts to improve the BFCC QIO program.  Additional tasks under this project include developing project and analytic reports addressing the BFCC QIO program, education and training for QIOs and other stakeholders; and ongoing survey interviewer and quality improvement training. Contact Person: David Russo, J.D. 617-565-1310

 

2012-14 Medicare Part C and Part D Complaints Resolution Performance Assessment Survey - Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS)

Medicare beneficiaries who received services often have complaints which are followed by a resolution process. CMS contracted IMPAQ International (IMPAQ) to assess the effectiveness of the current complaint resolution process for Medicare Part C and Part D from the beneficiaries’ perspective. Under a subcontract with IMPAQ, Avar conducted a web-based survey of over 6,000 Medicare beneficiaries who filed a complaint(s) about the Medicare Part C and Part D services they received. Specific tasks included: (1) designing and developing an IT infrastructure for the web-based survey that met CMS CIO’s IT security requirements; (2) programming the questionnaire (20–25 questions) and posting it on a designated website; (3) creating password-protected access to the questionnaire; (4) conducting a pilot test of the data collection system; (5) making revisions based on the pilot test results; (6) hosting and managing the web survey; (7) providing weekly and ad hoc reports of the survey progress; (8) monitoring survey data quality by regular and ad hoc data exporting and analyses; (9) providing survey related technical support via an e-mail box or telephone; and (10) delivering final web survey data files to the prime contractor along with supporting documents. For this contract, CMS audited and approved Avar’s secure hosting infrastructure. Each aspect of Avar’s data center, including hardware, software, environment, project staff training, and operation procedures, were thoroughly examined during a full week of on-site audit facilitated by a security team from Mitre, Inc. Penetration testing and hardening checklists were met with excellent remarks. Avar’s IT staff worked alongside auditors and CMS Technical Review Board (TRB) to successfully obtain Authorization to Operate (ATO) on the system. The information system pays particular attention to issues of data security, confidentiality, and reliability to ensure constant availability. It is possible for respondents to look up their CMS complaint cases based on email invitation code, Medicare number, or other information such as zip code. New cases were augmented into the survey sample on a weekly basis. The 508 compliant production system supported at least 100 concurrent users, and validated user identities so that only eligible respondents may enter the survey.  Contact Person: Oswaldo Urdapilleta, 202-769-9471.

National Institutes of Health

The National Children’s Study (NCS) Questionnaire Development Services - Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)

The National Children’s Study (NCS) is a longitudinal study of 100,000 U.S. children who will be followed from their mothers’ pregnancies until they are 21 years old. The NCS collected longitudinal data to study the relationship between a wide range of genetic, social, and environmental factors and the development of diseases and other health conditions through young adulthood. The large sample size will permit analysis of rare conditions and of the interactions between multiple genetic and environmental factors. NICHD sought assistance and support in the development of questionnaires for the Main Study of the NCS to be used from the mother’s first trimester of pregnancy through the first 60 months (5 years) of the child’s life. Under a two-year contract with NICHD, Avar’s specific tasks included: (1) reviewing research literature on child development and compiling an inventory of existing instruments; (2) cross-checking NCS instruments with those of major U.S. and international studies to ensure data coverage, comparability, and consistency; (3) developing survey content; (4) building a questionnaire development tool with a web-based front portal linked to a SQL database containing hundreds of survey item sets and related metadata; (5) analyzing pilot study data for questionnaire improvement; (6) determining instrument flow (i.e., questionnaire design, content wording, skip patterns, and layout/format); (7) developing supplemental text (i.e., instructions and clarification), (8) conducting quality control; and (9) documenting instrument metadata. Contact Person: Ruth Brenner, 301-594-8668.

Program Support Center

Services’ Program Support Center (PSC) IDIQ Contract, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Program Support Center

In May 2015, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Program Support Center (PSC) awarded Avar an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) task order contract with a 5-year base period and a 5-year option period (Contract # HHSP233201500149I). Under this IDIQ, Task Orders are issued for policy assessment/analysis, program assessments, evaluation design efforts, evaluations and data collection, performance measurements, technical assistance/expertise, data analysis, and auxiliary/support services (including translation and interpretation, website support work, and production and distribution of publications). Contact Person: Jennifer Eskandari, (301) 492-4528.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 

The Native American Center for Excellence (NACE) — Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Funded by SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, NACE was created as a national technical assistance and resource center for Native and non-Native audiences throughout the United States to address Native American substance abuse prevention and related behavioral health issues. NACE provided a broad range of services to Indian Country and those with an interest in substance abuse prevention in Indian Country including: onsite and offsite training, technical assistance, resource development, and online information resource dissemination via its website. Under a five-year contract with SAMHSA, Avar operated and managed NACE and provided technical assistance to the American Indian/Alaska Native communities. This multitask contract included: (1) convening expert panel meetings; (2) training and technical assistance and consultation; (3) identifying and developing innovative and evidence-based programs, practices, and policies to prevent and identify substance abuse in Native American communities; (4) instrument development and data collection and analysis; (5) information dissemination; (6) hosting and managing the NACE website and other IT support; (7) conducting program evaluations; and (8) conference planning and meeting logistics. Contact Person: Josefine Haynes-Battle, 240-276-2563.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security


Maintenance and Re-certification for Passenger Fee Data Portal System — Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

Under a five-year contract with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Avar worked with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to operate, maintain, and recertify the Passenger Fee Data Portal System (PFDPS). When TSA was created in 2001 to help protect the nation’s transportation infrastructure, it was authorized to collect user fees (the September 11th Security Fee or passenger fee) from air passengers to help fund the U.S. aviation security infrastructure. TSA created the PFDPS, a web-based portal that allows users to submit the required quarterly reports and facilitates TSA’s reporting on the fee collection process. Under the contract, Avar provided a range of support services for the PFDPS. Avar maintained 24-hour user access to the Passenger Fee Data Portal and provided user account maintenance and support including password and username resets and data input problem support for the system’s approximately 400 users. Avar’s staff assisted carriers in submitting their required quarterly information reports and maintained a record of original data submissions and revisions, safeguarding all data in the system. The Avar staff works with the PFDPS Information System Security Officer (ISSO) to maintain the system’s compliance with the Federal Information System Management Act (FISMA) by conducting monthly operating systems scans and completing a comprehensive annual systems assessment. Staff also worked with the ISSO to recertify the system, prepared a revised System Security Plan, and formulated and tested a Contingency Plan. The Avar team responded to queries and data calls from TSA/DHS IT Security, DHS IT Office of the Inspector General (OIG), etc. on an ongoing basis. Contact Person: Rose A. Kline, 571-227-1089.

 

Evaluation of the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program - United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS)

As a subcontractor to IMPAQ International, Avar contributed to the United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) Office of Policy and Strategy (OP&S) Research and Evaluation Division (OP&S-RED) by assisting in the conduct of an independent evaluation of USCIS’s Verification Division’s Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program. SAVE is a fee-based intergovernmental initiative designed to help federal, state, tribal, and local government agencies and licensing bureaus determine U.S. citizenship or immigration status information. This includes facilitating status verifications by a federal, state, tribal, or local government agency, or by an agent acting on the agency’s behalf, to the extent that such disclosure is necessary to enable these agencies to make decisions related to eligibility for benefits, licensing, grants, credentials, voter registration, or any other lawful purpose. SAVE user agencies or bureaus must be legally authorized to engage in an activity or provide a benefit for which immigration status verification is required. SAVE helps ensure that eligible benefit applicants receive timely public benefits and that benefit granting programs do not provide public benefits to persons who are ineligible to receive such benefits by virtue of their immigration status. The project described and evaluated how user agencies implemented the SAVE Program and the experience of benefit applicants when they needed to correct their records in response to SAVE-issued information. Findings from this evaluation supported USCIS’s efforts to continue to improve SAVE’s usability and compatibility with agencies’ business processes, promote user agencies’ full participation in SAVE, and prevent misuse of SAVE. Avar was responsible for conducting extensive site visits to entities using the SAVE system. Staff gathered data through in-depth interviews and focus groups. Contact Person: David Thomas, 443-259-5500.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Update and Revision of the Location Affordability Portal (LAP) Data and Model

The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of Economic Resilience (OER) developed the Location Affordability Portal (LAP) to provide the public with reliable, user-friendly data and resources on combined household housing and transportation costs in order to enable more informed decision-making about where to live, work, and invest. The portal features two tools: the Location Affordability Portal (LAI), which presents national maps with housing and transportation cost estimates for eight different households, estimated at the Census block-group level; and My Transportation Cost Calculator (MTCC), which takes user inputs on household income, size, and number of workers and uses the LAI model to generate customized transportation cost estimates using the household’s tenure, cars, employment locations, and travel patterns. Under a five year contract with HUD, Avar engaged in a range of activities to update the data and modeling for the LAI and MTCC. Avar economists modeled auto ownership, transit usage, and housing costs using simultaneous equation modeling (SEM) and also estimated annual vehicle miles traveled (VMT) using Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression model. Avar reviewed the existing methodologies on SEM and the multivariate regression models and reverse engineered the existing SQL code to determine the data source and the final variables used in generating the final tables, which were intended to be used in fitting the final models. Avar extracted the updated ACS (American Community Survey) 2010 - 2014 five year data extract using the F♯ programming language, and developed and executed the extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) process to extract employment data from Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) Origin-Destination Employment Statistics (LODES), and Illinois State odometer reading data. This project also involved using various queries to extract the data from multiple data sources to create an analytic database for modeling and mining processes. Other efforts included running frequency distributions and histograms on the VMT data to check for the outliers and using statistical procedures to determine the cut-off values, using the variation inflation factors to address the problem of multicollinearity, and a robust variance calculation to address the problem of spatial autocorrelation. A detailed documentation with the statistical results and code were submitted to the HUD team along with the final analytic datasets. The period of performance for this contract was 2015 through 2018. Contact Person: Josh Geyer, 415-489-6418.

U.S. Department of Labor

General Evaluation Support for the Chief Evaluation Office (CEO)

Avar provides evaluation and technical support services to the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Chief Evaluation Office (CEO); CEO coordinates, manages, and implements DOL’s evaluation program. Activities include reviewing and commenting on Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) clearance packages before they are submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to ensure both that the design of the proposed data collection meets accepted industry standards in terms of statistical validity and reliability and that the package contains details on all aspects of the design as required by OMB; reviewing and commenting on the statistical validity and reliability of deliverables from evaluation projects, including random assignment designs, quasi-experiments, econometric models, simulations, and implementation designs, among others; developing evaluation tools for use by CEO that increase the quality of evaluation products and deliverables; conducting disclosure risk reviews on draft public-use data products originating from evaluation studies; providing methodological and statistical support on proper evaluation and statistical methods for DOL agency staff and contractors; and supporting the CEO data analytics team with establishing, managing, and analyzing various databases for the Department. The project began in September 2015 and has been ongoing since then, renewed annually. Contact Person: Christina Yancey, 202-693-5910.

DOL Scholars Program, CEO Website, and CEO Communications Support — Chief Evaluation Office (CEO)

Under this multi-year multi-task contract with DOL’s Chief Evaluation Office (CEO), Avar manages the DOL Scholars Program, updates CEO’s website, and assists CEO with its communications strategy. Activities include promoting the DOL Scholars Program through outreach to department chairs and program directors at colleges and universities throughout the country, receiving and reviewing applications, selecting awardees, negotiating subcontracts with the awardees’ institutions, providing guidance to the scholars throughout the award periods, coordinating travel for awardees for their onsite presentations at DOL, obtaining peer reviews of awardees’ products, and posting awardees’ products to the CEO website; supporting the CEO website by creating, updating, and adding new content, and establishing procedures to track usage (e.g., implementing Google analytics tools); and working with CEO staff to develop and implement a communications strategy. The project began in September 2015 and ends in September 2019. Contact Person: Christina Yancey, 202-693-5910.

Chief Evaluation Office (CEO) Research and Evaluation Initiatives Blanket Purchase Agreement— Chief Evaluation Office

Avar has been awarded a five year Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) with the DOL’s Chief Evaluation Office. Under this BPA Avar is eligible to receive call orders to provide for the development, collection, analysis, and dissemination of research and evaluation studies. The BPA Call orders will involve designing and carrying out research and evaluation activities of programs or policies sponsored by or of determined to be of interest by the Department of Labor (DOL), and delivering research and evaluation products developed from the research. Contact Person: Christina Yancey, 202-693-5910.

Analytic and Evaluation Support for the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs — Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP)

The DOL Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs is responsible for the administration of four major disability compensation programs which provide wage replacement benefits, medical treatment, vocational rehabilitation and other benefits to certain workers or their dependents that experience work-related injury or occupational disease.  To assist OWCP in making these programs more efficient and responsive in protecting worker benefits, Avar received a multiyear, multitask contract with OWCP to provide analytic and evaluation support. The work involved conducting a mix of analyses to support OWCP executives in decision-making. Avar’s assignments included a range of policy, statistical, economic, and financial analyses as well as model development and/or validation. The analyses used a variety of data which including public use data files, agency administrative data, longitudinal survey files, and other microdata files transferred from other DOL agencies or federal departments. Contact Person:  Judith Binder, 202-354-9698.

Support for the Symposium on the “Changing Structure of Work” — Chief Evaluation Office (CEO)

Under this contract with DOL’s Chief Evaluation Office (CEO), Avar provided full logistical support for a December 2015 symposium on the changing structure of work.”  Held in Washington, D.C., attendees discussed trends that are altering the nature of work and implications of these changes for workers and employers. The symposium covered topics such as the increased fissuring within some industries as a result of expanded contracting, franchising, the emergence of complex global business structures, and rapid changes in technology. Discussions also covered labor and employment issues related to increased independent contracting, consulting, temporary workers, and alternative work arrangements. Tasks under this contract included: (1) management and administration of the commissioning of six papers from experts identified by CEO on topics determined jointly by CEO and the experts, (2) logistical support for the six experts’ travel to and stay in Washington, D.C. for the symposium, and (3) other logistical support related to the symposium at the behest of CEO. The project began in August 2015 and ended in May 2016. Contact Person: Christina Yancey, 202-693-5910.

 

Analytical and Statistical Support Services Contract - Chief Evaluation Office (CEO)Avar provided analytical and statistical support services to DOL’s Chief Evaluation Office (CEO); CEO coordinates, manages, and implements DOL’s evaluation activities. Avar reviewed and commented on Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) clearance packages before submission to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to ensure both that the design of the proposed data collection met accepted industry standards in terms of statistical validity and reliability and that the package contained details on all aspects of the design as required by OMB. Avar reviewed and commented on the statistical validity and reliability of deliverables from evaluation projects, including random assignment designs, quasi-experiments, econometric models, simulations, and implementation designs, among others. Avar developed evaluation tools for use by CEO that increased the quality of evaluation products and deliverables. It conducted disclosure risk reviews on draft public-use data products originating from evaluation studies. It provided methodological and statistical support for proper evaluation and statistical methods for DOL agency staff and contractors. Avar supported the CEO data analytics team with establishing, managing, and analyzing various databases for the Department and provided analytic and technical support services to DOL’s Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs (OWCP).  Avar staff also promoted the DOL Scholars Program through outreach to department chairs and program directors at colleges and universities throughout the country, receiving and reviewing applications, selecting awardees, negotiating subcontracts with the awardees’ institutions, providing guidance to the scholars throughout the award periods, coordinating travel for awardees for their onsite presentations at DOL, obtaining peer reviews of awardees’ products, and posting awardees’ products to the CEO website. The project began in September 2014 and ended in September 2015; the contract was re-awarded to Avar as three separate multiyear contracts. Contact Person: Christina Yancey, 202-693-5910.

Evaluation of the Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program — Chief Evaluation Office (CEO)

The purpose of the Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program (HVRP) was to provide services to assist in reintegrating homeless veterans into meaningful employment within the labor force and to stimulate the development of effective service delivery systems to address the complex problems facing homeless veterans. Funded by DOL, this project documented the types of services and supports offered through grantees receiving awards under HVRP, identified potentially promising practices or models, and conducted statistical analysis of administrative data collected by the grantees and other data as applicable on job placement and other outcomes of interest to HVRP participants. Under a two-year contract with DOL, the Avar team was responsible for: (1) conducting an extensive review of research literature and documents regarding services to homeless veterans and associated issues; (2) developing an evaluation design that contains research questions, theoretical models, and research methodology; (3) developing data collection instruments; (4) preparing the OMB clearance  package; (5) conducting key personnel interviews and 12 grantee site visits; (6) performing qualitative and quantitative analysis of data collected during the evaluation process; (7) organizing and facilitating two technical working group meetings; and (8) preparing a final evaluation report to DOL. Avar conducted data cleaning and analysis of the five-year program performance data. Avar also completed and submitted interim evaluation and final formative evaluation reports. Contact Person: Christina Yancey, 202-693-5910.

 

Summer Jobs and Beyond (SJB): Career Pathways for Youth – Chief Evaluation Office (CEO)

DOL’s Chief Evaluation Office (CEO) collaborated with DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) to build evidence on effective and promising summer pathways to the workforce for in-school and out-of-school youth, ages 16 to 24.  CEO awarded Avar a contract to conduct an implementation evaluation of ETA’s Summer Jobs and Beyond: Career Pathways for Youth, a $21 million competition that resulted in grant awards to 11 communities across the U.S. to provide youth with opportunities to work in the summer and beyond.  ETA’s Summer Jobs and Beyond grants program provides employment-related services to eligible youth who are new entrants to the workforce, including young people with limited current or past work experience.  The program provides youth with work experience opportunities, including summer and year-round part-time job opportunities for in-school youth and employment and work experience opportunities throughout the year for out-of-school youth and exposure to career pathways in in-demand job sectors.  Grants commenced in May 2016 and are continuing for 24 months.  In addition to providing overall project management, Avar and its two subcontractors developed a research design, convened a three-member Technical Working Group, and conducted an implementation evaluation.  Staff visited sites in Indianapolis, Indiana; Santa Maria, California; Utica, New York; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Hartford, Connecticut; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Greenfield, Michigan; and Detroit, Michigan.  They also evaluated through telephone conversations Tribal grantees in California, Illinois, and Iowa. Contact Person: Christina Yancey, 202-693-5910.

Transition Assistance Program Employment Workshop Evaluation — Veterans’ Employment And Training Service (VETS)

DOL/VETS conducts the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) Employment Workshops that provide employment information, training opportunities, and vocational guidance to allow separating service members to make informed career choices. A redesign of the employment workshop curriculum was completed in November 2011. The implementation of the redesigned curriculum was phased in, beginning with 11 identified pilot sites in February 2012. The purpose of this project was to conduct an evaluation of these TAP Employment Workshops. The study consisted of the following components: (1) design and development of various data collection instruments such as site observation protocols, key personnel interview protocols, and questionnaires for the workshop facilitators and participants’ surveys; (2) site visits to 11 bases piloting the revised TAP curriculum; (3) key personnel interviews with program staff and workshop facilitators; (4) three paper- and web-based surveys (customer satisfaction, facilitator, and follow-up); (5) analysis of qualitative and quantitative data regarding the delivery and effectiveness of the TAP curriculum; (6) presentation of results to DOL through interim and final reports and regular briefings; and (7) revision of the published written and online curriculum based on study findings.  Contact Person: Tim Winter, 202-693-4705.

Technical Assistance for the Young Parents Demonstration Grant (Round 2) — Employment Training Administration (ETA)

Funded by the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Pilot, Demonstration and Research funds, ETA’s Young Parents Demonstration (YPD) program was designed to add enhancement services to existing education/training programs that targeted young parents or serve a broader population of youth that included young parents. A randomization design was employed to systematically evaluate the added value of the enhancement strategies or service components. Program participants were randomly assigned to a “bump-up” experiment group in which they would receive the additional services or a “control” group in which they would receive the existing services offered by the original program. Avar was under a one-year contract with ETA to provide technical assistance to Round 2 YPD grantees to ensure that the evaluation design was rigorously implemented. The project team (1) planned and convened grantee conferences, meetings, workshops, and training sessions; (2) conducted site visits and on-site training to grantees across the country; (3) managed travel and meeting arrangements; (4) conducted online training via Webinar; (5) developed and managed an online Participant Tracking System (PTS) to collect and monitor program participant information and facilitate the random assignment; (6) developed and managed a data quality control system to monitor random assignment build-up, analyze data completeness and accuracy, and produce weekly reports to ETA, the evaluation team, and the grantees; 
(7) conducted weekly conference calls with grantees to resolve issues as needed; (8) developed training materials and data collection forms; (9) managed/shared project documents via SharePoint; and (10) established a toll-free help hotline. Contact Person: Gloribel Nieves-Cartagena, 202-693-2771.

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U.S. Department of State​​

Review of Exchange Alumni Coordination — The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA)

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) at the U.S. Department of State (DOS) fosters mutual understanding and respect between the United States and other countries through international educational, professional, and cultural exchanges and programs. A growing number of DOS Posts overseas (i.e., embassies and consulates) started to designate full- or part-time Alumni Coordinators to promote greater contact and cooperation among host country alumni of U.S.-sponsored exchange programs. Under a contract with ECA, Avar completed an 18-month review to examine the functions of the designated alumni coordinators and the implementation process of the State Department’s overseas exchange alumni coordination, identify best practices, and recommend future strategies. The study was implemented in two phases. Phase 1 served as a pilot study to conduct preliminary research on alumni programming and coordination in preparation for the main study in Phase 2.  Phase 1 consisted of numerous in-depth interviews with the ECA staff at different levels and two overseas site visits (Nepal and Russia) during which the study team conducted interviews with the Post staff, meetings with alumni association leaders, and focus group discussions with individual alumni. Based on information collected from Phase 1, Phase 2 launched two additional site visits (Colombia and Vietnam) and two web-based global surveys, one of all the DOS overseas Posts regarding their exchange alumni coordination and the other of all the established exchange alumni associations around the world. The entire study involved extensive effort in designing, developing, and testing/re-testing various types of data collection instruments (e.g., survey questionnaires, interview protocols, and focus group discussion guides); conducting quantitative and qualitative data analyses; developing reports for each phase and each site visit; and producing a camera-ready final study report including graphic presentations of statistical results and overall graphic design of the report layout (covers, content arrangement, etc.). All of these activities were conducted in-house by the project team, as well as all its overseas travel arrangements and visa applications. The final study, “Review of the Role of Alumni Coordinators,” was published and distributed within ECA and posted on the DOS website. Contact person: Robin Silver, 202-632-9319. 

U.S. Department of Transportation
 

Communications and Operations Research and Analysis Support Services (CORA) IDIQ contract, Volpe Center, Research and Innovative Technology Administration

Avar was awarded a 5 years IDIQ contract with the Vople Center to provide communications and operations research and analysis services support to a variety of Volpe Center transportation systems projects that cut across all modes of transportation for the DOT and for non-DOT organizations, including state and local governments. 

V-220 Payment Records Support  — Volpe, The National Transportation Systems Center  

For this task order under the  Under this contract, Avar’s on site staff at Volpe Contractor conducts cost, budget and financial analysis, specifically to establish the electronic records of payment described in the Transportation Acquisition Manual (TAM ) 1232.7003 for numerous existing contract actions. Staff are establishing the record of payment described in TAM 1232.7003 for four hundred and forty-seven (447) contract actions (including contracts and orders) that are either cost reimbursement, labor hour, or time and materials type. Contracts/orders are identified as physically complete and awaiting referral to close-out; or are currently active. 

TAM requires that the record of payment file document shall contain evidence as to what was paid, what was disallowed or withheld and the rationale for withholding or disallowing payments; the balance available for payment under the contract after the invoice has been paid; and any correspondence to the contractor concerning the payments. Volpe contract files are maintained either electronically or in hard copy. Review of contract files that are maintained in hard copy is performed on-site at the Volpe Center or remotely via the PRISM contract writing system. Contact person: Tom Martin, 781-223-2780

National Survey of DWI Courts – National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, (NHTSA)

DWI Courts were developed to address the root causes of impaired driving due to alcohol and other substance abuse. DWI Courts use a collaborative approach, including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement, behavioral health services, and other treatment modalities to pursue desired results. NHTSA developed a survey to collect baseline information on the characteristics and operations of DWI and Hybrid DWI/Drug Courts to support an initial formative evaluation. NHTSA contracted Avar Consulting to collect detailed descriptive information about the DWI Courts and Hybrid DWI/Drug Courts in the United States via a web-based survey. Results of the survey helped NHTSA design a more rigorous evaluation of the outcomes, impacts, and cost-efficiency of DWI Courts. Avar’s specific tasks for this project included: (1) modifying and formatting the survey instrument for effective, user-friendly, low-burden, Web-based administration; (2) creating a survey website and related IT platform that meets the government IT security requirements; (3) programming the questionnaire with built-in data quality checks using a selected web survey software; (4) creating and managing an inventory of access codes to provide control over web-based data capture; (5) developing, testing, documenting, and launching the web-based survey platform and associated quality assurance/control features in close collaboration with NHTSA; (6) hosting, maintaining, and supporting all users of the web-based survey throughout the survey period; (7) extracting raw survey data from the Web-based repository and processing and documenting the survey responses into several formats for NHTSA’s use; and (6) providing weekly data monitoring reports during the field operation period. Contact Person: Alan Block, 202-366-6401.

 

Operation Of the Federal Highway Administration Research Library — Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)

Under a five-year contract with the Department of Transportation, Avar managed the Federal Highway Administration’s Research Library that supports the FHWA’s Office of Research, Development, and Technology (RD&T). The full-service library, located at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC) in McLean, Virginia, houses more than 51,537 hardcopy and electronic holdings covering all aspects of surface transportation with an emphasis on research that supports the work of the FHWA TFHRC laboratories. The Avar team’s professional research librarians provided complete collection management support and reference services for FHWA RD&T employees nationwide. Our onsite staff cataloged and maintained the collection, acquired all research reports done by or for FHWA, and made acquisition recommendations for the collection as a whole. They supported RD&T research staff by conducting literature searches and reviews, preparing bibliographies, and providing general reference and referral services to onsite and virtual visitors. The Avar team also managed the Summer Transportation Internship for Diverse Groups (STIPG) intern program and conducted outreach and marketing efforts to promote the usage of the FHWA Research Library. In addition, they provided research support to the Exploratory Advanced Research (EAR) program, which was established at TFHRC to conduct long-term high impact research on improving the durability, efficiency, environmental impact, productivity, and safety aspects of highway and intermodal transportation systems. Contact Person: Lisa A. Williams, 202-493-3375.​

For-Profit Clients

Data Quality Audit, StatisticaMedica Ltd.  —  Ireland

StatisticaMedica Ltd. (SM) is a leading European provider of specialist services for the design and implementation of clinical trials and studies in the pharmaceutical, medical device, diagnostics, food, and healthcare industries and in academic and research organizations. Under a contract with SM, Avar conducted an audit and analysis of the data quality of interviews completed by an international marketing research company for the 2014–15 National Prevalence Study on Drug Use and Alcohol in Ireland. Avar compared the original sample design with actual interviews conducted and reviewed the Contact Record Sheet of attempted and completed interviews. Avar staff created an SPSS data file containing multiple merged files of parallel and nonparallel data and addition and prepared multiple tabulations summarizing results. Specific analysis included examining response rate variations by region, county, and interviewer; identifying possible falsified records; reviewing incomplete data; and verifying missing data codes. Avar summarized and presented the results to SM, which were subsequently integrated into a final report. Contact Person: Gloria Crispino, mgloria.crispino@statisticamedica.com

 

BWI Passenger Intercept Survey and BWI Airport User Survey Data Analysis — Campbell-Hill Aviation Group, LLC

Campbell-Hill Aviation Group, LLC procured the services of Avar to support a task order under their BWI Air Services Development IDIQ contract. Avar provided quarterly data analysis for the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall (BWI) Airport Passenger Intercept Survey. BWI collects survey data from passengers every quarter to help improve customer service and satisfaction. The data gathered also supports planning and development efforts. The data collection includes administering two surveys per quarter per year. The primary survey titled “the Passenger Intercept survey” is administered by an interviewer in a face-to-face mode at the airport intercept; the supplement survey named “the BWI Airport User Survey” is a self-administered survey completed by the same participant passenger. For the supplement survey, the participant has an option to mail back the survey within five days if he or she does not have time to complete it at the airport. For the initial task under the contract, Avar combined data collected for all four quarters for the year 2013 and prepared a descriptive report that involved 25 different analyses including the total passenger counts by zip code for each carrier and different type of carriers (e.g. legacy carriers, low-cost carriers, etc.). The report also compared carrier usage patterns by passengers who traveled for business versus other purposes and passengers with different categories of household incomes. Contact Person: James Lundy, 703-229-4283.

 

Addiction Drug Counselor Knowledge Assessment (ADCKA) and Online Training Website — Avar Consulting, Inc.

Substance abuse is a major public health problem in the United States. Substance use adversely affects individuals, families, and communities, yet the vast majority of people with substance use disorders do not receive the treatment they need because of the resource limitations and workforce shortages in the substance abuse field. Workforce problems have an impact on almost every aspect of substance abuse treatment across all sectors of the diverse behavioral health field. The issues encompass difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff, limited access to relevant and effective training, and financing systems that place enormous burdens on the workforce to meet high levels of demand with inadequate resources. Most critically, there are significant concerns about the capability of the workforce to provide quality care. In response to these concerns and in an effort to dramatically improve the quality of substance abuse services received by individuals and their families who are served by the behavioral health care providers, Avar’s experts developed the Alcohol and Drug Counselor Knowledge Assessment (AADCKA), a web-based screening tool, to help individuals prepare for an Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC) Certification Examination. The AADCKA provides a preliminary assessment of the tester’s strengths and weaknesses in four content areas that are found on current ADC certification examinations. After completing the assessment, participants will receive a score report with information on his or her strengths and weaknesses in each content area. Based on the score report, the participants are guided to free online resources from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and other sources as well as relevant training sites to help the participant gain knowledge in the identified areas. Contact Person: Z. Joan Wang, 301-977-6553.

 

Transfer, Host, and Manage the Web-Based Transforming Church Index (TCI) Survey — TAG ConsultingDeveloped by Kevin Graham Ford and funded by TAG Consulting, the TCI survey is one of the most influential congregational surveys and assessment tools in the United States and around the world. It is an ongoing web-based survey for different congregations to assess their needs for improvement by collecting opinions from their members using a multi-dimensional development index. Approximately 10,000 congregational members participate in the survey every year and the survey database currently contains data from over 50,000 respondents. The instrument consists of 15 function areas which are organized under five major domains/key indicators. Survey results are automatically generated in terms of mean scores, median scores, overall composite score, standard deviations, percentages, and presented in bar graphs, stars, and arrows. Domain and composite scores of each congregation are automatically compared to those of the national norm. Data are also reported about the characteristics of the respondents, the top and bottom scores, and the overall composite scores of the various subgroups. Under a long-term contract with TAG Consulting, Avar has successfully transferred the entire web-based survey software applications, survey databases, records, and other associated software applications from TAG’s old Citrix server to Avar’s multi-platform server without interrupting the survey operation.  Avar’s multi-platform server is running on the latest version of Windows 2008 64bit server edition operating system.  It features a 2.6 GHz dual-core Opteron processor, with 4024MB memory, 450GB expandable storage, and directs up to 100Mb of web traffic per second. All data are backed up automatically on a daily basis and protected by Cisco external firewall solution on top of the server’s own firewall. The web server sports a dedicated SSL certificate with 256-bit encryption for conducting Internet transactions of sensitive information with confidence. We are currently hosting the TCI survey; providing survey management, IT services, and statistical support; and conducting customized survey programming, data analysis, and report writing to meet the additional needs of the clients. Contact Person: Kevin Ford, 703-352-0660 ext. 201.

Server Hosting and Management —TAG Consulting

TAG is an organizational consulting firm based in Virginia.  It uses a multi-functional virtual desktop to connect all its partners, staff, and consultants across the country via internet. This virtual desktop also supports PDA accessible corporate e-mails, three (3) online surveys, and several online data analysis and reporting tools. Avar migrated the virtual office in its entirety from the previous service provider onto a number of Avar’s multi-platform servers running on the latest version of Windows 2008 64bit server edition operating system. The server blades run on Opteron processors and direct up to 100Mb of web traffic per second. All data are backed up automatically on a daily basis and protected by Cisco external firewall solution on top of the server’s own firewall. The web server sports a dedicated SSL certificate with 256-bit encryption for conducting Internet transactions of sensitive information with confidence. In addition, Avar is also providing online survey management, statistical support, technical support, and feature enhancements for all the virtual office functions. Contact Person: Karen Robbins, 703-352-0660.​


Study of Rural Egypt 2005 — Chemonics International

Sponsored by Chemonics International and the University of Utah, the study was part of a 4-decade longitudinal study of the social, economic, and political changes in rural Egypt. Five surveys were conducted respectively of Egyptian rural households, farmers, women, village council members, and district agencies. Under a consulting agreement with REDA International, Avar was responsible for data cleaning, data management, data analysis, and consultation in statistical modeling and interpreting the analysis results. Data management techniques included merging and transposing datasets, computing and recoding variables, creating scales, and integrating multi-level data into an analysis database. Statistical techniques included frequency analysis, mean comparison, cross-tabulation, scaling, factor analysis, regression, and multi-level analysis. Contact Person: James B. Mayfield, 801-673-4405.

 

Non Profit Clients

Global Compensation Analysis, Association of Corporate Counsel

Under contract with the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), Avar provided services between June 10 and June 30, 2015 to convert different currencies and standardize the measure of living standards across nations for Corporate Counsels. Respondents from the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) 2015 Global Census working in different countries reported their base salaries and total compensation in local currencies such as the Euro, British Pound, and Japanese Yen, etc. In order to allow a true comparison of corporate counsel compensation for counsel employed in places with different costs of living and receiving compensation in different currencies, ACC contracted with Avar to conduct a comparability analysis. To conduct the analysis, Avar economists converted all foreign currencies to USD for base salary, total compensation, and total gross revenue using the average exchange rate for the year 2014; created a weighting scheme to allow for cross-border comparison of base salary and total compensation, making it possible to compare the salaries of a global population; and used an index to equalize different cost of goods and services in multiple global locations. Simple conversion of local currencies to a standard global currency such as U.S. dollars is not sufficient for cross-country comparison of salaries. To solve this problem, we used purchasing power parity (PPP) which equalizes the value of comparable market baskets of goods and services between different countries. We converted USD to PPP dollars for base salary and total compensation which enables the best possible comparison of compensation between counsels in different countries as it captures the differences in cost of living between different countries. Other efforts included identification and removal of outliers for various variables, providing the complete dataset to ACC in SPSS, and a detailed documentation with tables and methodology for normalizing compensation. Contact Person: Robin Mayers, 202-293-4103, ext. 396.

 

Web-Based Database and Data Collection —The Mulan Foundation

The Mulan Foundation is a non-profit performing arts organization devoted to promoting the Sino-U.S. cultural exchange in Chinese and Western classical music. Avar Consulting’s IT specialists developed the foundation’s online data management and collection mechanism to collect customer contact information and conduct financial data transactions. An online customer survey was also conducted by the Avar team to collect data for the foundation on market needs and customer satisfaction. Using Access in the Microsoft Windows environment, data collected via the website were stored automatically into an Access database on a secured server and retrieved to produce customized summary reports as needed. Contact Person: Patrick Lu, 240-606-5039. 

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