The story of PUSH/Excel was derived from dozens of interviews with participants and observers as well as an examination of documents of various kinds, including media accounts, official memos and letters, and the American Institutes for Research (AIR) evaluation reports themselves. AIR won the contract to conduct the evaluation of PUSH/Excel. Federal officials hoped that they had discovered a way of conducting evaluations of highly political programs that would solve some of the problems such evaluations usually encountered. This approach to evaluation was employed initially with two highly political programs—Jackson's PUSH/Excel program and the Cities-in-Schools program, which was a favorite of Rosalynn Carter. The AIR evaluation reports are actually quite thorough in describing the local program themselves. The on-site AIR observers did their jobs well by sending in extensive reports of local program activities and even reported on the politics surrounding some of the programs.