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Amidst the profound concerns about a lengthy economic downturn (or worse), public officials are taking measures to improve the effectiveness of public dollars -- or public rupees, as the case may be.
Here in the United States, President-elect Obama has stated that he'll look for ways to offset the cost of a proposed second stimulus package by cutting wasteful government programs. That same spirit is being felt in India.

As reported by Mathaba.net:

India and Britain agreed to work together to strengthen impact evaluation in the two countries for effective implementation of public welfare programs, particularly for the poor.

The agreement was reached in a meeting between Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission of India and visiting Douglas Alexander, the UK's secretary of state for international development (DFID), in New Delhi on Wednesday.

They also agreed for taking steps for improving the methods of assessing policies to know their impact on poor. This step assumes importance in the wake of on global economic melt down.

The recently concluded G-20 meeting which discussed the ways and means to combat the impact of economic slow down called for effective monitoring mechanisms besides restructuring of global financial institutions to arrest the impact of slow down on the developing economies.

Montek Singh Ahluwalia said during the meeting that the commission will use cutting-edge technology to asses the flagship programs launched by the center and establish a network of professionals to help improve the quality of evaluation in the country.

He said the results of these evaluations will be made available in a simple form to the public.

In his remarks, Douglas Alexander said that his department is also stepping up its work to show the results of public welfare programs launched for the poor and achieving the value for the money.

"The collaboration will pave the way for better designed policies that deliver better results, in India and onwards," he added.

For India, as for other low- and middle-income countries, additional resources for impact evaluation through the newly launched International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), are coming at a particularly opportune moment. Donor agencies that support impact evaluation, whether through 3ie or other channels, deserve praise for helping governments get the most out of the money that they spend. And government officials such as Montek Singh Ahluwalia (who was the founding director of the IMF's Independent Evaluation Office) are showing tremendous leadership by seriously engaging in evaluation, an enterprise that is never the shortcut to popularity.

For me it is personally gratifying to see this growing attention to more and better impact evaluations, and particularly the high-level policy interest. Along with the efforts of many others, our work on
impact evaluation has helped to change the conversation about how to find the most "value" in evaluation.

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD does not take institutional positions.