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GOVT Week: Stanley Capela on Government Evaluation

My name is Stanley Capela. I am the Vice President for Quality Management at HeartShare Human Services of New York and the current Chair of AEA’s Government Evaluation TIG.

Major Hot Tip: If you attend the AEA Conference this November, attend our business meeting where we will celebrate 20 years of Government Evaluation. Joseph Wholey as well as the past and current chairs of the TIG will discuss the evolution of Government Evaluation. It not only will be a very thought- provoking discussion, but more importantly will provide a fascinating ride as we look back, share thoughts on the present, and look into the future.

Lessons Learned – GOV + CA/ COL = QE* : After 32 years working in the field, one aspect that I have enjoyed the most is serving on a committee that includes a government agency and contract agencies.  I have been fascinated when a government agency convenes agencies to foster a dialogue to develop performance measurement systems for  those very same agencies. First, there is a problem of trust since you are asking stakeholders to come up with a system to evaluate their own performance. Second, the government representative may not have the power to implement any of the recommendations made by the group. Finally, there are those who may conclude it is a useless exercise because the issues that are raised by the group are never resolved for a variety of reasons.

What I have found recently is, when the process does work well, it encompasses a number of key ingredients that include:

  • Understanding among the participants that the ultimate goal will be achieved as a result of the collaboration.
  • Mutual understanding of what will be accomplished, that it is measurable, and that there are clear definable indicators.
  • Identification of roles by the government entity, along with an honest discussion of what is and what is not negotiable.
  • Follow through on the recommendations once consensus is reached.
  • Explanation when a recommendation is not doable, so that there are no misunderstandings of doing something that is the exact opposite of what is agreed to by the group.
  • A trial period to test recommendations, and recommendations are implemented well in advance of the funding period so agencies have time to implement internal evaluation systems to monitor program performance.
  • Access to information on best practices that is shared among the various entities.

In the end, when you foster an environment that encourages honest dialogue, it offers the opportunity to create a performance measurement system that not only ensures quality services, but also best meets the needs of the individuals served by these agencies.

*Government  + Contracting Agencies/ Collaboration = Quality Evaluation

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Government Evaluation Week with our colleagues in the Government Evaluation AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our GOVT TIG members and you may wish to consider subscribing to our weekly headlines and resources list where we’ll be highlighting Government-focused evaluation resources. You can also learn more from the GOVT TIG via their many sessions at Evaluation 2010 this November in San Antonio.

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