New DFID policy on Evaluation

“DFID takes very seriously the responsibility to ensure high quality, independent evaluation of its programmes, to provide reliable and robust evidence to improve the value of its global work to reduce poverty.

In December 2007 the Independent Advisory Committee on Development Impact was established to help DFID strengthen its evaluation processes. The Committee is there to work with DFID to:

  • Determine which programmes and areas of UK development assistance will be evaluated and when;
  • Identify any gaps in the planned programme of evaluations and make proposals for new areas or other priorities as required;
  • Determine whether relevant standards (e.g. of the OECD Development Assistance Committee) are being applied; and comment on the overall quality of the programme of evaluation work carried out against these.

DFID and IACDI have therefore been working closely together to define a new policy which will set the course for evaluation in the future. We have also produced a ‘topic list’ of potential areas for evaluation over the coming 3 years. So you will see here two documents on which we would like your feedback, the Draft Evaluation Policy and the Evaluation Topic List.

Central to the policy is the emphasis on greater independence of evaluation, along with stronger partnership working, reflecting global commitments to harmonisation, decentralising evaluation to a greater degree, driving up quality, and ensuring that learning from evaluation contributes to future decision making. We would like you to consider those high level issues when offering your comment and feedback during the time the consultation process is open. This document does not focus on the operational issues; they will be considered in a separate DFID strategy document.

During the consultation period, we would also like to hear your views on which topics you consider to be the greatest priority and why. This will help DFID to make decisions on which are to be given the highest priority.

In summary the issues we are particularly keen for you to focus your feedback on are:

1. The definition of ‘independent evaluation’ – what are your thoughts on the policy approach of DFID, working increasingly with partners, to increase independence in evaluation?

2. What are your views on what’s required to drive up quality across the board in evaluation of international development programmes? What role do you think DFID can most valuably play in this?

3. What are the considerations for DFID strengthening its own evaluation processes, whilst ensuring its commitments to harmonisation remain steadfast?

4. DFID is determined to increase the value of learning from evaluation to inform policy – what are your thoughts on the means to bring this about?

5. DFID is committed to consulting stakeholders during our evaluations, including poor women and men affected by our programmes.   Getting representative stakeholders, especially for evaluations which go beyond specific projects and programmes, can often be challenging (for example evaluations of country assistance plans or thematic evaluations).  Do you have any ideas on how to improve this?

6. DFID is committed to developing evaluation capacity in partner countries and increasing our use of national systems. What are your thoughts on the challenges and ways forward?

Please send your feedback to . The public consultation will officially close on Tuesday 3rd March but we would appreciate comments as early as possible, so that they can be considered as the operational issues are further thought out.”

Evaluation of the Implementation of the Paris Declaration

Thematic study: The applicability of the Paris Declaration in fragile and conflict-affected situations

Executive Summary

The September 2008 DAC HLF in Accra provides an opportunity to discuss the challenges of applying the Paris Declaration in fragile and conflict-affected situations. This report aims to provide evidence to inform these discussions by:
• Synthesising existing evidence on the aid effectiveness and state-building challenges faced in fragile and conflict-affected situations;
• Exploring the relevance and application of the Paris Declaration and the Fragile States principles in different contexts of fragility and conflict; and
• Setting out the key challenges to improving effective engagement by development partners in fragile situations.

This paper is based on a review of the primary and secondary literature. As part of the review,
four country case studies (Afghanistan, Burundi, the DRC and Nepal) were carried out. These are
included as annexes to the report.
Continue reading “Evaluation of the Implementation of the Paris Declaration”

AusAID first: Annual Review of Development Effectiveness 2007

The inaugural Annual Review of Development Effectiveness, produced by the Office of Development Effectiveness, was tabled in Parliament on 20 March 2008.

The review is a key element in efforts to strengthen the effectiveness of the aid program as the aid budget is scaled up to reach 0.5% of Gross National Income by 2015. The review provides an annual health check of the program and identifies areas where effectiveness could be strengthened.

The review found that Australia manages its aid activities well and is achieving good results. More than three quarters of activities will meet their objectives in 2006-07, these objectives range from better budgeting to stronger service delivery. Continue reading “AusAID first: Annual Review of Development Effectiveness 2007”

Survey on Evaluation of US Government Foreign Assistance

From: “ccwincek”
Date: Mon, 08 Sep 2008 21:23:45 -0000
Subject: Survey on Evaluation of US Government Foreign Assistance
Dear Fellow Evaluators (and colleagues interested in evaluation),

In 2001, we completed a study for USAID (CDIE) called the Evaluation of USAID’s Evaluation Experience. With all of the recent discussion of Foreign Assistance Reform, we thought that this would be an ideal time to update the study and broaden beyond USAID to all US Government funded foreign assistance. Many of the analyses, recommendations, and reports on U.S. foreign assistance reform emphasize how important it will be to improve monitoring and evaluation efforts. None of them say how. This is the question we seek to explore with your input.

We have developed an anonymous, online survey and would be very appreciative if you would complete it; the link is below. You can complete Sections 1-3 of the questionnaire which are quick response questions; and/or Section 4 which has open-ended questions, if this is your preference.

This is the link:

This link will be open until September 22, 2008.
Continue reading “Survey on Evaluation of US Government Foreign Assistance”

Public consultation on DFID’s new performance frameworks with UNDP, UNFPA and UNAIDS

Inn the Consultation section of the DFID website information is now available on three proposed performance frameworks for the UNDP, UNFPA and UNAIDS

Each section provides the following information:

  • The DFID/UN… Institutional Strategy
  • Further details and background information
  • A list of questions
  • An email address to send comments to
  • A deadline date for submission of comments

It is not clear what will happen to the comments. Another section, on the Bangladesh Country Plan, refers to “a consolidated reply addressing the key issues raised will be sent to all respondents after the consultation has closed.” The same could be requested for each of the above consultations

National Audit Office: Good Governance Review on DFID’s Monitoring and Evaluation Arrangements

The following information has been sent out by email


“The role and remit of the NAO

The NAO is tasked with examining the economy, effectiveness and efficiency
with which government departments have used public money. Our review will
examine DFID’s monitoring and evaluation framework and whether it
influences decision making and operational activities. In this instance,
our work will take the form of a management report to DFID, which will be
publicly available but not aimed at Parliament or the media.
Continue reading “National Audit Office: Good Governance Review on DFID’s Monitoring and Evaluation Arrangements”

Event: Does UK development aid work?

Date: 17 July 2008
Venue: Wellcome Trust, London


3.30pm to 6.00pm (Registration from 3.00 pm) Book now – places limited!

Does British aid to poor countries work? Is the Department for International Development accountable for results? Is it a learning organization? These evaluation issues will be explored during a special event of the UKES London Network to be held on 17 July 2008.

Given tight budgetary constraints and the rapid expansion of United Kingdom funding for global poverty reduction, aid effectiveness has become an issue of salient political importance. The Independent Advisory Committee for Development Impact (IADCI) was established in November 2007 by the Secretary of State for International Development.
Continue reading “Event: Does UK development aid work?”

DFID’s Independent Advisory Committee on Development Impact (IACDI)

8th March 2008 Minutes of the New Independent Advisory Committee on Development Impact (Contactable via PS: The committee will have its own website and contact email address by mid-2008)

On independence of evaluation at DFID

(excerpt) ….Comments made by committee members in the ensuing discussion were
as follows:

  • There was a case for DFID’s Evaluation Department (EvD) taking on responsibility for oversight, quality assurance and guidance on self-evaluations in DFID. At present this function seemed fragmented and largely left to the judgement of line managers. This would require extra resources for EvD. In any event, self-evaluation in the department needed to be greatly strengthened.
  • Independent evaluation was dependent upon good quality information on the ground, and this also would be helped with a stronger culture of monitoring and self-evaluation throughout the department.
  • The committee needed to appreciate the realities of a government department in considering independence issues though that did not mean that IACDI could not play a very significant role in protecting and enhancing evaluation independence in DFID
  • An increase in DFID budgets meant an increasing need for information on effectiveness. There seemed a contradiction between the need for more, in-depth evaluation and a declining administrative budget for evaluations. In any event protecting independence suggested a need to explore ways to protect the budget for evaluation.
  • There were concerns about the current reporting arrangements for the Head of EvD which do not conform to internationally recognised criteria. A number of options existed including a direct reporting line to the PS or a DG or the creation of a new post of DG for Audit and Evaluation to which the head of EvD would report. Independence could be further buttressed by further developing the relationship between the Head of EvD and IACDI (e.g. with respect to employment, removal and performance assessment of the EvD Head) and displaying this reporting relationship as a ‘dotted line’ on the organization chart.
  • There were also concerns around the status and grade of the Head of EvD, given the need for the need for the post to have greater visibility and carry greater clout.
  • Some felt that, ideally, a head of evaluation should have a contract precluding employment elsewhere in DFID, and that an advantage of upgrading the post was that it could attract good candidates towards the end of their careers for whom this would not be an issue. Any contract of this kind should be for a fixed term, (either of 10 years or more or renewable on the advice of IACDI). Not all however took the view that future employment within DFID should be precluded and all stressed that the rights of the current incumbent should be protected.
  • Whatever option were chosen, it was felt that written job descriptions, protocols and arrangements for performance review, with a role for IACDI or its chair, could also usefully buttress the independence of the Head of EVD.
  • There was a need to explore further the modalities for (and control of the head of EVD over) staffing: over time EVD may need to change the balance towards an increased role for EVD staff and a lesser role for external consultants.
  • There was also a need for clear written protocols for unimpeded access to information in DFID; for rules of engagement with DFID staff in discussing draft reports; for avoiding staff conflicts of interest; and a written policy on disclosure of reports.
  • The need for a clear and agreed departmental policy on evaluation, to meet internationally recognised criteria and be reviewed by IACDI, was highlighted by committee members, recognising that work on this was already underway.

On Country Program Evaluations.

(excerpt) … Views expressed by the committee were as follows:

  • It was recognised that different types of CPEs are required in different contexts (eg.,fragile states, smaller country programmes).
  • CPEs should aim to provide reliable evidence of impact, particularly on poverty reduction. It was pointed out, however, that it would take a much greater effort and better monitoring and baseline data to get at impact.
  • Some questioned the value of CPEs in relation to the amount spent on them. Others recognised that they held country Directors to account and that they were valued by DFID senior management. The annual CPE synthesis by EvD generated useful lessons and identified themes.
  • Concerns were raised about the apparently low priority given to CPEs by DFID country teams. It was important that they recognised the importance of evaluation and that data collection and monitoring arrangements should be built in from the outset of programmes.
  • Over time there would be advantage in country teams being made responsible for most CPEs as a regular component of country policy management so long as there were adequate incentives set by senior management and adequate quality assurance and oversight, probably best provided by EvD. A transitional arrangement might entail an approach which includes part funding of CPEs by country offices.
  • EvD might then consider complementing this self evaluation effort by carrying out more in-depth independent evaluations in a few countries; and continuing to produce annual syntheses of all CPEs carried out in DFID, with the possibility of including the results of similar work carried out other donors.
  • Such changes would probably take time, however, suggesting that at least for the next year, EvD should be prepared to proceed with its currently planned programme of CPEs.
  • DFID should explore amending ToRs and reporting arrangements for CPEs to make it clear that partner governments and in some cases other donors will also benefit from the evaluations.
  • EvD should in any event carry out a methodology review for CPEs.

On the Evaluation Work Programme

(excerpt) … The views of committee members were as follows:

  • They were concerned at the declining administration budget for evaluation at a time when the overall programme spend was rising fast and use of the programme budget for evaluation was constrained.
  • A surprisingly large sum of programme funds was being earmarked for support of impact evaluations including capacity building and international systems. This was questioned by some. Others were supportive of the approach recognising that the work entailed partner governments leading the processes.
  • It was noted that nothing was being done by EvD on project evaluation though the Committee acknowledged that other parts of DFID were continuing to commission and undertake these. In future, it would be of interest to use the flexible funding line to find out what was going on at the project level. It would also be useful to evaluate smaller items with potentially greater impact.