IED UN Week: Evaluating the United Nations Secretariat’s Work by Michael Craft and Sinduja Srinivasan

Hello to all! Our names are Michael Craft and Sinduja Srinivasan. We are evaluators at the United Nations Secretariat within the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) Inspection and Evaluation Division (IED). Our office is celebrating 25 years of evaluation work, telling the United Nations what it needs to know to be more relevant, efficient and effective, and we are excited for the opportunity to connect with fellow evaluation professionals!

To kick off a week-long series of posts by our IED colleagues, we are presenting some lessons we have learned looking at evaluation functions across more than thirty different UN departments and offices.

Lessons Learned:

  • Evaluations need to be more strategic! Enhancing the strategic orientation of evaluations creates opportunity for greater change. When asked how to strengthen evaluation, a representative sample of UN program managers ranked the strategic focus of evaluations at the very top. This makes sense given the challenging operational context in which we work and the sheer size of the UN’s actual workload! In the previous biennial period of 2016-17, it was estimated that $31 million was spent producing evaluations covering a portfolio of entities totaling $27 billion.
  • There is a large gap in evaluation capacity! Some entities across the UN system have a long way to go to establishing adequate evaluation capacity. Our office found that the gap continues to widen between parts of the system that have established adequate evaluation capacity and those that are falling further behind. Program managers, as well as evaluators, must demonstrate the function’s value across a diverse range of organizational contexts to close this gap.

IED serves as an independent internal evaluation oversight function. Our portfolio is wide thematically, deep functionally and dispersed geographically. We will be sharing more challenges, some related to the above, later in the week as part of this AEA365 series. You can read more our work and our recently published reports here.

Over the week, you’ll be hearing from 5 great IED evaluators, each with their own unique perspective on evaluation in the UN system!

Here’s a quick word from our Director – Eddie.

Thank you Michael and Sinduja for introducing IED to AEA! As OIOS celebrates its 25th anniversary, for me, it has been a humbling and gratifying experience to evaluate the important work of courageous women and men all over the world, working towards peace and development of the peoples of the United Nations, championing their rights, providing humanitarian support, empowering women and fighting climate change. The evaluation functions of the UN have the role of informing Member States, the Secretary-General, UN colleagues and the rest of the world, on whether or not results are being achieved, and why. We also suggest how to do better. And to do our evaluations better, we are excited to be part of the larger international community of evaluators at this forum, to learn from you, and to share our experience. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on our lessons learned in evaluating the UN!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Inspection and Evaluation Division (IED) of the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight ServicesAll posts this week are contributed by evaluators who work in IED. 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.

2 thoughts on “IED UN Week: Evaluating the United Nations Secretariat’s Work by Michael Craft and Sinduja Srinivasan”

  1. Sherice Gayden

    First off I want to congratulate your office for 25 years. The lessons learned over that time are reflected in your post where you make two valid points. Following another post, I was reading the other day they stated that evaluations needed to be more strategic and recommended education as a big factor to push. Educating the clients would go a long way towards improving the impact of evaluators.

  2. Dear Michael and Sinduja, I want to thank you for bringing this blog to the forefront for the everyday citizen to learn more about the work it takes for our many nations to come together on one accord to benefit humanity. The United Nations General Assembly is a very large organization but we as citizens are not informed enough on the things that go on behind closed doors to know if we are truly making a difference. An evaluation of this magnitude can ensure the public is aware of its greatness.

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