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EPTF Week: How does AEA influence federal evaluation policy? By Nick Hart and EPTF members

Federal evaluation policies have the potential to affect the direction of the evaluation field, the implementation of our craft, and ultimately the interpretation of how well policies and programs are implemented and achieve their intended goals. Recognizing the growing dialogue about the evaluation function within the federal government, the American Evaluation Association established the Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF) in 2007.

For more than a decade, an all-volunteer task force has made recommendations to the AEA Board to positively influence and provide strategic advice to policymakers about how to most effectively shape evaluation policies. I’m Nick Hart, the current chair of the EPTF. I am joined by Katrina Bledsoe, Tom Chapel, Katherine Dawes, Diana Epstein, George Julnes, Mel Mark, Kathryn Newcomer, Demetra Nightingale, and Stephanie Shipman.

The EPTF’s charge focuses on evaluation policy. Consistent with that charge, the Task Force’s efforts cover policy issues related to evaluation definitions requirements, methods, resources, implementation, and ethics. This focus has led to a number of accomplishments this past decade.

  • Evaluation Roadmap. In 2013, the AEA members approved the EPTF developed document called An Evaluation Roadmap for a More Effective Government. The document has been instrumental in shaping AEA’s approach to improving federal evaluation policy and for implementing the evaluation function throughout government, and is widely cited in government policy publications.
  • Federal Evaluation Policies. Recently, numerous federal departments and agencies have developed evaluation policies. EPTF members contributed to development of policies at the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development to encourage alignment with AEA’s policies and the Evaluation Roadmap.
  • In 2013, EPTF launched a partnership with Washington Evaluators to encourage AEA members to visit Capitol Hill to discuss the evaluation with Members of Congress and their staff. During the 2013 event, 69 AEA members from 31 states participated. When the conference returned to Washington, DC in 2017, 80 members from 35 states participated.
  • Evidence Commission. In 2016 and 2017, the Task Force provided input on the deliberative activities of the U.S. Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, including testimony that helped shape the final recommendations. AEA applauded the commission’s recommendations to institutionalize the evaluation function in government.

There’s much for AEA members to be proud of in the organization’s ability to help shape evaluation policy. During EPTF week on AEA365, we’ll highlight opportunities of the future. On Tuesday, Stephanie Shipman discusses how members can comment on revisions to AEA’s Evaluation Roadmap. On Wednesday, Demetra Nightingale discusses how members can provide feedback directly to federal agencies on evaluation policies. On Thursday, I offer some insights about the recent Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking and the implications for the evaluation field.  On Friday, Tom Chapel offers an overview of important evaluation policy themes in the public sector. Finally, on Saturday, Katrina Bledsoe highlights the intersection of policy with philanthropy.

Moving forward, I encourage you to let the Task Force and AEA Board know if there are evaluation policy concerns or issues you would like AEA to focus on through AEA’s Issues and Ideas Portal.


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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