IED UN Week: Scoping it out! Scoping and planning evaluations in the United Nations by Sinduja Srinivasan and Srilata Rao

Hi – it’s Sinduja Srinivasan again, from yesterday’s intro post! And I’m Srilata Rao, one of the Section Chiefs in IED.

As the intro mentioned, IED work spans a diverse set of topics. In the last few years, we’ve worked on evaluations on international criminal tribunals to outer space affairs! So how do we scope our evaluations? How can we frame the evaluation project, so that we choose the most relevant topic, while being able to do justice to it within our limited means?

For smaller entities, it is easy enough to evaluate all their activities. But for larger entities that also have multiple, often unrelated components, our scoping skills come out in full force! 

Lessons Learned:

  • Start with what you know: Review other assessments the entity may have been subject to recently (e.g., audits, management reviews), to examine their findings and recommendations, and, of course to avoid duplication.
  • No risk, no reward: To identify areas of high-risk we speak to senior managers and key external stakeholders on what challenges the entity is grappling with, and where we add the highest value to support future decision-making. We ask them to identify areas that have the highest likelihood of failure, and which will have the largest potential impact.
  • Data, data, data: We identify the sources of data that are already available and will assist us in the evaluation. We also identify what kind of new data need to be collected and analysed.

Armed with this preliminary information, we discuss options for the evaluation with our peers and with the client. We aim to hit that “sweet spot”: a novel topic that resonates with stakeholders and can be managed by a modest team.

Rad Resources:

  • Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals evaluation: The international criminal tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia were merged after over twenty years of completely independent and separate existence! So, the evaluation examined the consolidation, coordination and organisational arrangements in the post-merger period.
  • Department of Public Information evaluation: In a rapidly-evolving media and communications landscape and in an era of “fake news”, the evaluation examined the effectiveness of the UN’s public information outputs to communicate and build support for the work and ideals of the United Nations.
  • Office of Outer Space Affairs evaluation: At a time when international cooperation is more important than ever, IED examined how UN’s outer space office contributes to closing the gap between space-faring and non-space-faring countries to harness the benefits of space for humankind.

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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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