The International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) has announced that Emmanuel (Manny) Jimenez will be the organization’s new Executive Director starting in early 2015. The selection of Jimenez represents a key transition for 3ie, which has moved quickly from start-up to maturity in just six years.
When I was involved in negotiations to think about, design and create 3ie between 2008 and 2009, lots of people were skeptical about the need for such an institution and about its capacity to accomplish its goal: getting better information for public policies in developing countries by promoting more and better impact evaluations. Yet the rationale seemed obvious to me. Aid agencies are regularly asked for evidence of impact, but are just as regularly denied the funding or high-level commitment to conduct the research necessary to provide that very evidence. Creating an external entity to carry out that function seemed like a really good idea.
3ie saw success early on thanks to sustained interest from key funders; a commitment to selecting high-quality relevant studies by the first Board and its first chair, Paul Gertler; and the energy, experience and outreach efforts of its first Executive Director, Howard White, and the able team he assembled.
Over the last few years 3ie has taken two more big steps toward maturity. The renewal of the Board, along with the appointment of Richard Manning as its new Chair, has shown the organization’s capacity to engage in fruitful reflections on its next steps. With the transition to a new Executive Director, 3ie will be able to build on past success while drawing on the different qualities and depth of experience and expertise that Manny Jimenez will bring to the post.
This latest transition proves 3ie can renew itself while building on its strengths. The United Kingdom, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation deserve credit as 3ie’s leading funders, but it is time to revisit one of the original visions for 3ie – that all foreign aid and multilateral agencies should contribute 0.01% of their annual disbursements to 3ie in support of impact evaluation. These studies are a public good that is underfunded relative to its value and one which provides useful evidence for policy decisions by all agencies and developing countries.
But that’s another challenge. For now, it is mostly time to congratulate and welcome Manny Jimenez to his new position and to wish 3ie continuing growth and success.