University of Wisconsin–Madison

ASPE Background and NPF Position Description

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the U.S. government’s principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services. HHS touches the lives of more Americans than any other Federal agency. It is a department of people serving people, from newborn infants to our elderly citizens. For more information, please visit www.hhs.gov.

The National Poverty Fellows in residence at HHS will work within the Office of Human Services Policy (HSP), in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE). ASPE is the principal advisor to the Secretary of HHS on policy development, and is responsible for major activities in policy coordination, legislation development, strategic planning, policy research, evaluation, and economic analysis that promotes effective health and human services.

HSP’s mission is to provide HHS leadership with research-based policy solutions that promote the well-being of America’s most vulnerable populations. We strive to be an invaluable source of knowledge, ideas, and solutions for decision makers across the government seeking to improve the well-being of the most vulnerable in our society. The office has a large and broad policy and research portfolio and is fast-paced and relationship-driven. We conduct policy analysis, research and evaluation, and we facilitate program coordination on various issues across HHS. Our projects range from quick-turnaround policy analyses to large-scale research studies, and major policy initiatives. HSP has three divisions:

  1. The Division of Children and Youth Policy focuses on policies related to the well-being of children and youth, with a focus on children in low-income and otherwise disadvantaged families.
  2. The Division of Economic Support for Families focuses on policies affecting low-income families, including employment, opportunity, and self-sufficiency; child support enforcement; homelessness; incarceration and reentry; fatherhood and marriage, and refugee resettlement.
  3. The Division of Data and Technical Analysis improves policy development through data collection and infrastructure activities, secondary data analysis, modeling, and cost analyses.

National poverty fellows will help improve social policy at the highest levels, and they work closely with teams of highly skilled and committed analysts in a supportive, collegial community.

National poverty fellows will be expected to become a subject matter expert in one or more HSP’s policy and program areas or become an expert in data analysis to support policy development, depending on the needs of the office. National poverty fellows will engage in a variety of activities both independently and in collaboration with other offices in ASPE, HHS, and other federal agencies. Fellows will be assigned to one of the Divisions depending on their interests and the needs of the Division.

National poverty fellows will be expected to develop expertise in their assigned policy area and related programs and policies areas to inform the Administration and HHS leadership as well as other stakeholders. Candidates must have:

  • Strong research, analytic and communications skills
  • Excel in a fast-paced environment with competing demands
  • Be able to work both independently and as part of a team
  • Have some knowledge of human services policy issues and interest in learning about federal budget and policy development processes.

Work responsibilities could include:

  • Maintaining current knowledge of program trends, research, and promising and evidence-based practices related to assigned human services programs, as well as their intersections with other social service programs.
  • Staying abreast of and initiating new ideas, policies, strategies, partnerships, and promising practices that could improve policy and practice in human services programs for low income individuals and families, vulnerable populations, and communities with concentrated poverty.
  • Conducting reviews, provide interpretation and analyses of a variety of policy, budget, programmatic, regulatory, legislative, evaluation, and other research for low-income individuals, vulnerable populations, and communities with concentrated poverty.
  • Planning, directing, and conducting research activities to inform decisions about program improvement, regulations, and/or policy development.
  • Developing memoranda, briefs, talking points, issue papers, and other materials that accurately identify issues, present appropriate summaries of the evidence base, and make defensible recommendations to leadership.
  • Identifying and maintaining collaborative relationships between ASPE offices, internal and external federal agencies and programs, state agencies, local programs and grantees, and other partners to support program development and effectiveness.
  • Coordinating intra- and interagency programmatic and policy initiatives. Participating in and providing staff support for committees and working groups relating to HSP’s issue areas.