CLEAR Week: Lycia Lima, Aline D’Angelo, Dalila Figueirdo and Lucas Finamor on Convincing policymakers to fund M&E at times of financial crisis

We’re Lycia Lima, Executive Coordinator, Aline D’Angelo and Dalila Figueiredo, Project Managers and Lucas Finamor, Researcher of FGV/CLEAR for Brazil and Lusophone Africa. The Center for Learning on Evaluation and Results for Brazil and Lusophone Africa (FGV/CLEAR) is based at Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV), a Brazilian think tank and higher education institution, dedicated to promoting Brazil’s economic and social development. FGV/CLEAR seeks to promote and develop subnational and national M&E capacities and systems in Portuguese-speaking countries.

Given Brazil’s recent financial crisis, the country faces strict budget constraints on all levels of government – municipal to federal. As a result, public administrators have been forced to readjust their budgets by cutting or reallocating expenses, including for M&E. So we’ve been advocating for maintaining and even boosting budgets on M&E, with some of these arguments.

  • The data and findings from M&E efforts provide essential information to policymakers and others when making tough choices on the most effective and efficient use of public funds.
  • Administrative data are plentiful, valuable, and unfortunately often underused. So agencies should look closer at the data they already have and could employ more or differently (i.e., in developing scorecards, identifying low-performing or poorly executed programs, etc.).
  • Evaluation methods should be driven by the questions being asked and problems to be solved, and many appropriate methods are low cost.
  • Impact evaluation allows for determining the effect the program had on beneficiaries’ lives, but are often expensive. However, while randomized experiments can produce strong and accredited evidence, it’s possible to do impact evaluations using administrative and secondary data. When appropriate, not having to collect primary data makes for less expensive evaluations while still providing important and accurate evidence. The found impact may then contribute to carrying out a cost-benefit analysis, which allows comparing programs and policies and rationalizing expenses.
  • Designing or assessing logic models helps to check for inconsistencies or lack of connections from activities to outcomes. They’re also useful for identifying whether overlapping programs or policies are redundant and for focusing of funds.
  • Process evaluations help to understand if the program is achieving the proposed goals and if not, where the implementation failure lies. They can be complemented by analyzing whether the program is well focalized or if resources are being misplaced.
  • Expenditure analysis can identify heterogeneities in the implementation and execution of a program in different locations. It may also be useful for benchmark comparisons with similar programs from both national and international champions.

Rad Resource: Carol Weiss wrote convincingly about policymaking and evaluation intersections through the years, as in this article: Where Politics and Evaluation Research Meet.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Centers for Learning on Evaluation and Results (CLEAR) week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from members of CLEAR. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.


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