by Scott Bayley

Effective Evaluation Policies in Public Sector Agencies

Why do evaluations?

M&E is not an end in itself. Governments and organizations build monitoring and evaluation systems because they believe that such systems will help them to improve their governance and performance.

In particular M&E can be used to support:

  • Planning & policy making
  • Program improvement / management
  • Resource allocations, budgeting
  • Government control, coordination
  • Accountability, transparency
  • Participation by civil society.

What is evaluation policy?

This has to do with rules, whether formal or informal, that an organization establishes for conducting and using evaluations. Evaluation policies include such things as authorizations, requirements, funding, methods, planning, publishing, and quality assurance for evaluation. They may be promulgated through laws, regulations, administrative procedures, budgets, organizations, and standards. They may be established at the national level by the parliament or executive agencies. Similar rules can be promulgated by State and local governments, by foundations, or any organization that wishes to make evaluation part of the way they do business.

How do evaluation policies support program managers to produce better outcomes?

Evaluation is a key aspect of managing for results. Managing for results in the public sector involves 5 steps:

  • Developing a consensus among relevant stakeholders about what needs to be accomplished;
  • Design and implement programs that have the potential to achieve the intended outcomes;
  • M&E the implementation and performance of these programs from a variety of value perspectives
  • Use the information obtained from these evaluations to stimulate higher performance; and
  • Communicate the value of programs to policy makers, to those who influence resource allocation and to others who have a stake in the effectiveness of public sector programs.

i.e. seeking a consensus about what should be measured, how, & with what consequences and applying a range of relevant tools to drive continuous improvement

What are the characteristics of an effective M&E system?

  • Political support from stakeholders
  • The production of (suitable) quality performance information in a cost-effective manner
  • A high level of utilization
  • Linking M&E into planning, budgeting, policy making, & reporting / accountability processes → institutionalization → sustainability over time as governments & officials change

What should be included in our evaluation policy?

  • A clear explanation of the concept and role of evaluation
  • Standards (both evaluation standards and ethical standards)
  • Definitions of the institutional framework, roles, responsibilities & linkages to monitoring, planning, policymaking budgeting, and reporting.
  • Guidelines to operationalize the evaluation policy
  • A description of how evaluations are to be planned and prioritized
  • Explanation of how evaluations are organized, managed and funded
  • The mechanism for the follow-up of evaluation findings and recommendations
  • The disclosure and dissemination procedures for evaluation.

Where should we focus our evaluation capacity building efforts?

  • Leaders’ demand for and ability to make use of evaluative feedback (our first priority)
  • The supply of evaluations
  • Supporting institutional infrastructure (policies, guidelines, resources, processes, IT, staff capacity etc.)
Scott Bayley, Managing Director of Scott Bayley Evaluation Services and former Principal Consultant for Monitoring Evaluation and Learning at Oxford Policy Management (OPM) for the Asia Pacific region.

Scott Bayley is Senior Principal Specialist, MEL at Oxford Policy Management (OPM).
Scott leads OPM Australia’s monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) work for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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Scott Bayley Evaluation Services - Continuous Improvement


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