In an attempt to understand the role that program evaluation plays in a community mental health center (CMHC), a conceptual framework of the organizational context in which CMHC self-evaluation efforts occur is presented. The conceptual framework consists of three major propositions. (1) Five dimensions of a CMHC are proposed to have significant effects on the center's evaluation process: research capability, administrative support for evaluation, organizational structure, readiness for innovation, and the environmental context of the center. (2) The evaluation process is perceived to consist of three types of evaluation activities corresponding to the input, process, and output elements of the center. (3) The five organizational parameters are proposed to differentially affect the individual components of the evaluation process. Stemming from the proposed conceptual framework, a theoretical model of the effects of organizational parameters on the evaluation process was tested on a purposive sample of CMHCs. The results were generally supportive of the model, indicating that the role of evaluation in CMHCs is not a simple or singular phenomenon.