Hi! My name is Natalie Donahue and I am the Chief of Evaluation in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) at the U.S. Department of State. ECA leads public diplomacy outreach efforts for the Department through a number of exchange programs designed to build friendly, peaceful relations between Americans and citizens of other countries.
Monitoring and evaluating public diplomacy programs is a challenging endeavor due to the complex causal pathways and long-term nature of expected outcomes, among other factors. But the real challenge has been and continues to be, articulating how our public diplomacy programs are contributing to overarching foreign policy goals.
In 2019, the ECA Evaluation Division created the Monitoring Data for ECA (MODE) Framework to better track program performance across the Bureau. Understanding the importance of demonstrating how these measures and thus ECA programs, are aligned with broader policy goals, we set about mapping the objectives and sub-objectives of the MODE Framework against the goals and objectives of higher-level strategies all the way to the National Security Strategy. ECA’s Strategy Crosswalk provides a visual depiction of these linkages.
We have already seen benefits emanating from the creation of the ECA Strategy Crosswalk, including:
- Non-evaluation stakeholders being able to easily understand and visualize how ECA programs contribute to higher-level foreign policy goals
- The ability to provide more data/detailed responses to Congressional and Department-level senior leadership queries surrounding strategic USG priorities (as we know which indicators fall under which objectives so can easily report on ECA programmatic outcomes)
These crosswalks can provide a framework for designing new programs
When linking your strategy or framework, think about all of the varying levels (project, program, office, Bureau, agency, international) and how yours might align.
Don’t just skim the goals and the objectives of the higher- and lower-level strategies, but read the strategies in their entirety to fully understand where and how yours connects
Providing a visual to stakeholders as to how your programs advance higher-level priorities is helpful to articulating the linkages, but crafting a short narrative/talking points to support the visual is still useful
We built the MODE Framework through a collaborative process with both internal and external stakeholders; we recommend this same approach when setting out to align lower-level strategies to broader policies.
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