Overview

Welcome to the e-version of the USAID Evaluation Toolkit!

The Evaluation Toolkit:

  • Curates the latest USAID guidance, tools, and templates for initiating, planning, managing, and learning from evaluations primarily for USAID staff members who are involved in any phase of the evaluation process.
  • Is a resource for USAID staff members and external contractors who participate in or conduct evaluations for USAID.

How to Use this E-Toolkit:

The Toolkit is organized according to the USAID Program Cycle and the phases of an evaluation.

Section 1: Evaluation at USAID (overview of evaluation and the policy context for evaluation at USAID)

Section 2: Evaluation Throughout the Program Cycle (when it is required or encouraged to plan, use, or report on evaluations)

Sections 3 through 5: Phases of an Individual Evaluation

  • Section 3: Planning (from deciding to evaluate to procuring an evaluation)
  • Section 4: Managing an Evaluation
  • Section 5: Sharing, Reporting, Using, and Learning from an Evaluation

Section Organization

  • Brief narrative introduces the general requirements and important considerations.
  • Sub-thematic areas are listed on the left-hand side and go more in-depth into specific areas or processes.
  • Core resources (1) provide further guidance on specific requirements and processes; (2) describe best practices; and (3) offer templates and other tools.
  • Additional links that provide easy access to USAID reference documents, reports, and webinars that go into specific evaluation issues in greater depth, and non-USAID resources that may be useful during the evaluation life cycle.

A few resources and additional links are available only to USAID staff. These are indicated by a designation of USAID only.

Acknowledgements

This Toolkit was developed by the Bureau for Policy, Planning, and Learning Office of Learning, Evaluation, and Research (PPL/LER). Many USAID and USAID contractor staff—from the field and Washington—provided content, comments, feedback, and insights into this Evaluation Toolkit. Their contributions have been and continue to be essential to the ongoing development of this Toolkit.



1. Evaluation Policy at USAID

Evaluation at USAID is defined as the systematic collection and analysis of information about the characteristics and outcomes of strategies, projects, and activities as a basis for judgments to improve effectiveness, and/or to inform decisions about current and future programming. Evaluation is distinct from assessment (which may be designed to examine country or sector context to inform project design) or an informal review of projects. It is also distinct from performance monitoring, which is an ongoing and systematic collection of performance indicator data and other quantitative or qualitative information to reveal whether implementation is on track and whether expected results are being achieved.

The purpose of evaluations is twofold: to ensure accountability to stakeholders and to learn to improve development outcomes. The subject of a USAID evaluation may include any level of USAID programming, from a strategy to a project, individual award, activity, intervention, or even cross-cutting programmatic priority. 

As noted in ADS 201.3.5.10, evaluations at USAID should be:

  • Integrated into the Design of Strategies, Projects, and Activities. Planning for and identifying key evaluation questions at the outset will both improve the quality of strategy development and project design and guide data collection during implementation.
  • Unbiased in Measurement and Reporting. Evaluations will be undertaken so that they are not subject to the perception or reality of biased measurement or reporting due to conflicts of interest or other factors.
  • Relevant. Evaluations will address the most important and relevant questions about strategies, projects, or activities.
  • Based on Best Methods. Evaluations will use methods that generate the highest quality and most credible evidence that corresponds to the questions being asked, taking into consideration time, budget, and other practical considerations.
  • Oriented toward Reinforcing Local Capacity. The conduct of evaluations will be consistent with institutional aims of local ownership through respectful engagement of all partners, including local beneficiaries, while leveraging and building local evaluation capacity.
  • Transparent. Findings from evaluations will be shared as widely as possible, with a commitment to full and active disclosure.

USAID Automated Directives System (ADS) 201 and its associated references provide the foundation of all USAID guidance on evaluation at USAID.

 

Additional Links



2. Evaluation Throughout the Program Cycle

The USAID Program Cycle is a common set of processes intended to achieve more effective development interventions and to maximize impacts. The graphic representation of the Program Cycle was updated on September 7, 2016.  

Evaluations may be planned, conducted, or utilized at any stage in the Program Cycle. This section addresses the various, formal stages of the Program Cycle at which Missions or Washington OUs are required or encouraged to consider whether it would be appropriate to plan for, conduct, or learn from an evaluation.