Evaluations Help USAID to be More Effective and Accountable

Jul 10, 2017 by Kevin Smith Comments (0)

Kevin Smith is the USAID/PPL/LER Evaluation Team Leader.

Evaluation is a critical part of USAID’s work, enabling staff to learn about program effectiveness, identify what does and does not work, and share best practices across countries and sectors. USAID uses evaluation findings to inform decisions about design, implementation and resource allocation, as well as to support organizational learning.

Since the release of the Agency’s 2011 Evaluation Policy, which informed the revised ADS Chapter 201 Program Cycle Operational Policy and the updated Evaluation Policy last fall, we’ve made huge progress in conducting and using evaluations.  For instance:

  • The Agency has commissioned over 1,000 external evaluations, and has provided classroom training in evaluation that more than 1,600 staff members have completed.  
  • As part of fulfilling the original Evaluation Policy’s mandate for periodic reviews of evaluation utilization, PPL’s 2016 evaluation utilization study found that 93 percent of our evaluations have been used in some capacity; 71 percent to design and/or modify a USAID project or activity.  

Thanks in part to USAID’s well-established evaluation efforts, our Agency is in a great position to respond to the Administration’s emphasis on government efficiency, effectiveness and accountability. Our evaluation efforts will also allow the Agency to  adhere to the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2016, which itself was influenced by USAID’s own Evaluation Policy.  This legislation requires U.S. government agencies to closely monitor and evaluate all foreign aid programs and improve transparency by publicly sharing the data and findings.

Thinking creatively for how to visualize where evaluations took place and in which sectors, PPL produced infographics depicting FY 2015 and FY 2016 evaluation data that we just placed on usaid.gov/evaluation and the Development Experience Clearinghouse (DEC).  These one-pagers also highlight major findings from a handful of evaluation reports and how those evaluations informed decision-making.  To make evaluation reports more accessible, PPL is also working with M/CIO and the DEC Team to improve how to search for evaluations on the DEC via a better interactive map.

Our progress on the evaluation front could not have been possible without much work by many USAID, and implementing partner, staff around the world. Thanks to their great effort, we can explain - quickly and interestingly - how the world’s largest bilateral donor uses evaluations to account for and learn from our collective development efforts.