New evaluation policy available
This document replaces the 2009 policy and is the result of broad internal and external consultation with a range of stakeholders, including southern partners, non-governmental organisations and private foundations, as well as being informed by DFID’s senior management.
Why do we need a new policy?
A new policy was required to:
- take account of the UK Government’s stronger focus on independent evaluation, noting the new arrangements with the establishment of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI)
- reflect the strong push from DFID’s Management Board to embed evaluation within DFID, setting out the much higher priority attached to evaluation activity, including enshrining the need to think about evaluation at the intervention design stage. This step change included creating a new cadre of specialist evaluation posts in front line offices, building DFID’s skills on evaluation, and a major investment in new, high quality evaluations – including rigorous impact evaluations - built into programmes at the outset. Evaluation Department (EvD) now has the role to support this with technical advice, build capability and to monitor quality
- capture the new mandatory requirements for quality assurance and transparency
Purpose of the policy
The policy emphasises the importance of high quality evaluation. Robust, high quality evaluation of development spending is needed to determine whether the desired effects are being realised. Also, the policy provides clarity and consistency in the design, conduct and use of evaluation irrespective of origin, funding modality or implementing agency.
What the policy covers
DFID’s strong commitment to producing and promoting quality evaluation is signalled throughout the policy. The standards and principles to be followed for all DFID-funded evaluations are reflected, with a focus on:
- guiding concepts and principles – details how DFID defines evaluation of development assistance, how evaluation relates to other forms of investigation and the principles on which evaluation practice are based
- requirements and standards - addresses DFID’s prerequisites for evaluation and the norms on which these will be judged. The policy promotes investing considerable time on planning and design to ensure the quality and utility of an evaluation
- working in partnership – explains how DFID will continue to comply with its commitments under the Paris Declaration (reconfirmed by Accra and Busan) around the principles of country ownership and mutual accountability. The importance of partnership is stressed for strengthening evaluation utility and quality.
- learning and Using evaluations – well designed evaluations have a strong chance of leading to changes in individual thinking, organisational procedures and programme design. DFID senior managers will take a strong lead in fostering an organisational culture where the use of evidence is crucial for forward planning.
In driving forward the need for, and benefits of, quality evaluation, the 2013 policy reflects mandatory requirements to which DFID staff must adhere:
- all evaluations must be independently quality assured during the design and draft final report stages
- there must be a timely, formal management response to all findings, conclusions and recommendations from each evaluation
- all evaluation products must be made available on the DFID external website and include a contact address for raising any formal concerns regarding the study
- all impact evaluations must be formally registered (database is a work in progress)
- data sets from primary data collection (clear of personal identifiers) must be made available for re-analysis
Why is evaluation important?
“We will honour our aid commitments, but at the same time will ensure much greater transparency and scrutiny of aid spending to deliver value for money for British taxpayers and to maximise the impact of our aid budget” (The Coalition: Our Programme for Government)
Evaluation can have two main purposes – accountability and lesson-learning – and is an essential tool in proving and improving DFID’s work. It allows the organisation to understand and demonstrate whether its interventions are relevant, efficient, effective, sustainable and have a development impact.