EPTF Week: AEA’s Roadmap for Using Evaluation to Improve Government Performance by Stephanie Shipman

Hi, I’m Stephanie Shipman, a founding member of AEA’s Evaluation Policy Task Force. I recently retired from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) where I found AEA’s Evaluation Roadmap extremely useful when consulting with U.S. and foreign agencies on how to organize an effective evaluation office.

Rad Resource: The Task Force’s “An Evaluation Roadmap for a More Effective Government”  responded to former President Barack Obama’s call to increase the use of evidence in government management and policymaking. This policy paper describes the essential role that evaluation can play in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of programs, policies, and organizations to improve their effectiveness, efficiency, and worth. As the public demands more accountability from the government, evaluation has become an increasingly important support for government programs and policies.

The Roadmap provides a framework to help agencies develop an evaluation program to support organizational learning. it also recommends ways the Congress can help institutionalize evaluation in government. Key principles of the framework include:

  • Support independent evaluation offices with adequate resources and skilled staff,
  • Ensure all programs and policies are subject to evaluation,
  • Select appropriate evaluation approaches from a broad range of methods,
  • Establish and publish evaluation policies and quality standards,
  • Plan a body of strategic evaluation work in consultation with stakeholders,
  • Disseminate evaluation results widely and follow up on their recommendations.

Several U.S. federal agencies used this framework in developing their own evaluation policies to ensure they provide credible, useful feedback for managers. For example, the Departments of Labor and State, the Administration for Children and Families, and the Centers for Disease Control and Protection each have policies that reflect the Roadmap.

Looking back a decade since we first drafted the Roadmap, the Task Force is considering ways to update the Roadmap to ensure its continued relevance to current discussions of evaluation policy. For example, in 2017, the U.S. Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking recommended that agencies formalize an evaluation function and establish chief evaluation officers and multiyear research and evaluation plans, as well as improve researchers’ access to administrative data, with appropriate privacy protections, for program evaluation.

The Task Force welcomes insight from AEA members about the usefulness of the Roadmap and suggestions for how it might be improved as a communication tool going forward. Please send your comments and suggestions to the Task Force at: evaluationpolicy@eval.org.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating AEA’s Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF) week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from members of AEA’s EPTF. 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@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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