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Community Contribution

A Year in Review of 34 New and Refreshed Tools at Your Fingertips!

Nov 08, 2021
Lauren Leigh Hinthorne, Gabrielle Boutemy, and Sarah Allen

USAID’s policies related to planning, delivering, assessing, and adapting development programming were updated one year ago as part of an effort to streamline implementation processes. Since then, USAID’s Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning has worked to revisit and refresh 34 tools that can help Agency staff and partners with best practices around the Program Cycle.

You can find these tools in the Monitoring, Evaluation, and Collaborating, Learning and Adapting (CLA) toolkits on Learning Lab. While the policy revisions prompted the toolkit updates, the new and improved tools reflect the latest thinking around best practices in these areas. Highlights from these toolkit updates include:

  • Monitoring Toolkit | Conduct a Data Quality Assessment (DQA) How-To Note: Revised to include guidance on remote DQAs and the relationship between Performance Management Plans (PMPs) and DQAs.

  • Evaluation Toolkit | Evaluation Statement of Work (SOW) Checklist and Review Template: Two tools in one document created to assist in developing and reviewing USAID Evaluation SOWs. The checklist provides a quick guide to understanding the minimal standards for an Evaluation SOW, while the Review Template provides additional criteria for assessing the quality of the SOW during a peer review. Users will find new subsections dedicated to impact evaluation-related policy changes in the Evaluation Questions, Purpose, Data Collection and Analysis, and Deliverables sections of the checklist. 

  • CLA Toolkit | Adaptive Management Discussion Note: Updated to align with the 2020 ADS 201 changes, in particular the change that projects are now optional. In addition, the discussion note includes clarifying edits and a link to an updated list of relevant resources on ProgramNet.

  • CLA, Monitoring, and Evaluation Toolkits | Performance Management Plan How-To Note:  Revised to align with streamlined ADS 201 PMP requirements to integrate the contents of the PMP into one cohesive monitoring, evaluation, and CLA plan for addressing learning priorities. In addition, revisions account for Project MEL Plans no longer being required, changes to performance indicator requirements, and changes that allow the PMP to link to other documents or databases.

  • CLA, Monitoring, and Evaluation Toolkits | Activity MEL Plan How-To Note and Template: Revised to include a new section for the beneficiary feedback plans requirement that was added to ADS 201. In addition, there is a new section that speaks to the relationship between Activity MEL Plans and other plans (Data Management Plans required by ADS 579 and Quality Assurance Surveillance Plans).

The 2020 policy updates to USAID’s operational model for programming are the result of a productive feedback loop between implementation and policy at USAID. Policy guides good practice and good practice informs policy. Explore the list of updated tools below, and keep that feedback loop strong by reaching out to [email protected] with feedback.

CLA Toolkit

Incorporating CLA in the Procurement Process

Incorporating CLA in Activity Management

How To Note: Country Development Cooperation Strategy Mid-Course Stocktaking

Discussion Note: Adaptive Management

Evaluation Toolkit

Evaluation Toolkit: Conducting An Evaluability Assessment

Evaluation Toolkit: Choosing Between a USAID External or Internal Evaluation

Designing MEL Platforms

Ex-Post Evaluation Discussion Note

Evaluation Management Process Checklist

Evaluation SOW Checklist and Review Template

Technical Note: Impact Evaluations

Discussion Note: Managing MEL Platforms

Sample Form for Disclosure of Real or Potential Conflict of Interest

Evaluation, CLA Toolkits

Submitting a USAID Evaluation to the DEC

Monitoring Toolkit

Standard Foreign Assistance Indicators and USAID Performance Indicator Reference Sheet (PIRS) Cross Walk

Monitoring Toolkit: Data Collection Methods and Tools for Performance Monitoring

Monitoring Toolkit: Performance Indicator Baselines

Activity MEL Plan How-To Note

Template: Performance Indicator Summary Table

PMP Schedule of Performance Tasks and Associated Resources (+ Template)

Additional Help DQA Checklist

Additional Help: Data Disaggregation by Geographic Location

Additional Help: Disaggregating Monitoring Indicators

Monitoring Toolkit: Selecting Performance Indicators

Monitoring Toolkit: Monitoring Organizational Capacity Development Efforts

Monitoring Toolkit: CIRS Template

Monitoring Toolkit: Performance Indicator Targets

Discussion Note: Third-Party Monitoring in Non-Permissive Environments

How To Note: Conduct a Data Quality Assessment

Monitoring, CLA Toolkits

How To Note: Planning and Conducting Site Visits

Monitoring, Evaluation Toolkits

Activity MEL Plan Template

Monitoring, Evaluation, CLA Toolkits

How-to Note: Prepare & Maintain a Performance Management Plan

Discussion Note: Complexity-Aware Monitoring

About the authors
Gabrielle Boutemy

Gabrielle Boutemy is a Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist with the Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning (PPL), Office of Learning, Evaluation and Research (LER).

Lauren Leigh Hinthorne

Lauren Leigh Hinthorne, PhD, is a Knowledge Management & Organizational Learning Advisor with PPL/LER.

Sarah Allen

Sarah Allen is a Performance Monitoring Specialist with PPL/LER.