“Purpose of the rapid review: Since 2009/10, there has been a drive within the Department for International Development (DFID) to strengthen the evidence base upon which policy and programme decisions are made. Evaluation plays a central role in this and DFID has introduced a step change to embed evaluation more firmly within its programmes. The primary purpose of this rapid review is to inform DFID and the international development evaluation community of the progress made and the challenges and opportunities encountered in embedding evaluation across the organisation.”
“There has been a strong drive to recruit, accredit and train staff in evaluation in DFID since 2011. There have been 25 advisers working in a solely or shared evaluation role, a further 12 advisers in roles with an evaluation component, 150 staff accredited in evaluation and 700 people receiving basic training. …While the scaling up of capacity has been rapid, the depth of this capacity is less than required. The number of embedded advisory posts created is significantly fewer than envisaged at the outset, with eight of 25 advisers working 50% or less on evaluation. ”
“The embedding evaluation approach has contributed to a significant, but uneven, increase in the quantity of evaluations commissioned by DFID. These have increased from around 12 per year, prior to 2011, to an estimated 40 completed evaluations in 2013/14”
“The focus of evaluation has changed to become almost exclusively programme oriented. There are very few thematic or country level evaluations planned whereas previously these types of evaluations accounted for the majority of DFID’s evaluation portfolio. This presents a challenge to DFID as it seeks to synthesise the learning from individual projects and programmes into broader lessons for policy and programme planning and design.”
“The embedding evaluation approach has been accompanied by a significant increase in the number of evaluations which has, in turn, led to an increase in the total amount spent on evaluation. However, the average total cost per evaluation has changed little since 2010. ”
“Externally procured evaluation costs appear to be in line with those of other donors. However, forecasts of future spending on evaluation indicate a likely increase in the median amount that DFID pays directly for evaluations. For non-impact evaluations the median budget is £200,000 and for IEs the median budget is £500,000. This represents a significant under-estimation of evaluation costs.”
“Evaluation accounts for a median of 1.9% of programme value, which is in line with expectations. The amount DFID spends on IEs is higher at 2.6% of programme value but this is consistent with the figures of other donors such as the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the World Bank”.
“There has been considerable enthusiasm shown by programme managers for conducting IEs, which now comprise 28% of planned evaluations.”