GOV TIG Week: Caroline DeWitt on Valuing Stakeholders in the Evaluation Process

My name is Caroline DeWitt. I am a senior evaluator with Human Resources and Skill Development in Ottawa, Canada, and a member of the AEA Government Evaluation TIG. Our department is responsible for several evaluations ranging from labour market outcomes to grant and contributions programs delivered through third parties.

An area of my responsibility was undertaking an impact evaluation of an initiative delivered through a third party, the not-for-profit sector. The federal government and the voluntary sector found new ways to come together to achieve common goals through the Voluntary Sector Initiative.

Our challenge was how to partner and collaborate with the voluntary sector on a federal government/voluntary sector impact evaluation. It is usually the case that federal government evaluations are independent, conducted at arm’s length working with internal stakeholders.

Here are three activities that led to a successful outcome.

Hot Tip One – Build trust with key sector representatives and keep them informed throughout the process. We formalized the process and established a Joint Evaluation Steering Committee (JESC) to oversee the impact evaluation of the initiative.

Hot Tip Two – Achieve consensus on evaluation methodology by providing a forum where stakeholders participate in discussions on the evaluation design, data, indicators and expected outcomes of the Initiative. For example, we convened an international conference that was entitled: “Measurements of Partnerships” where stakeholders were given an opportunity to dialogue and share ideas.

Hot Tip Three – Ensure transparency throughout the process with an effective governance framework. We scheduled ongoing JESC meetings to ensure that all parties received the evaluation information including draft reports. Stakeholder concerns were addressed and their comments were incorporated in the reports.

Buy-in at the start of the process led to insightful comments. Ongoing engagement was also important throughout the process. A final report was signed off by all key stakeholders.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating GOV TIG Week with our colleagues in the Government Evaluation AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our GOV TIG members and you can learn more about their work via the Government TIG sessions at AEA’s annual conference. 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. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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