In the period following the award of the evaluation contract, but prior to data collection, an evaluation design is the one deliverable required by USAID policy. Other deliverables may also be due during this period, depending on what was requested in the Evaluation Statement of Work (SOW).
An evaluation design describes and documents how the data collection and analysis methods will be used to produce credible evidence for answering all of the evaluation questions within the time and budget constraints. Clear articulation of the evaluation design assists USAID and other stakeholders in discussing these choices with the evaluation team, but the level of detail in an evaluation design may vary depending on the complexity of the evaluation, overall level of effort, and other factors. An Evaluation Design Matrix is a standard tool for outlining the components of an evaluation design and is highly recommended for use by evaluation teams.
Per ADS 188.8.131.52, “Except in unusual circumstances, the key elements of the design [of the evaluation] must be shared with implementing partners of the projects or activities addressed in the evaluation and with related funders before being finalized.”
Additional products that may be required during this period typically include:
1. A workplan that describes the schedule, activities, and milestones of the evaluation team;
2. An inception report or background report that addresses what the evaluation team has learned based on program documents provided to them;
3. An in-brief or series of in-briefs, either in person or virtual; and
4. Other possible deliverables, such as an evaluability assessment.
During this design period, the Evaluation COR/Manager should consider the possibility of revising evaluation questions based on evaluation team input. Any revisions to the questions in the SOW should be documented in writing in the evaluation report. The Evaluation COR/Manager should also consider if the design complies with ethical standards for protection of human subjects.
Guidance: Government Accountability Office: Designing Evaluations (2012 Revision)