Evaluation Gap Update
As you know, accelerating social progress in low- and middle-income countries requires knowing what kinds of social programs work. In our work, we’ve found that this information is often lacking because governments, development agencies, and foundations have few incentives to do rigorous impact evaluations. I write with news and resources from the Center for Global Development's Evaluation Gap initiative.
In this issue:
- Leading Edge Group Convenes to Design and Launch New Impact Evaluation Entity
- An Evaluation Agenda for the World Bank
- GAO Audit of MCC Focuses on Evaluation
- Global Development Network Provides Competitive Funds for Impact Evaluations
- Additional Resources on the Evaluation Gap
- Recent Blog Posts on Evaluation
Leading Edge Group Convenes to Design and Launch New Impact Evaluation Entity
Pioneering stakeholders have agreed to serve as members of the ad hoc "Leading Edge Group" for impact evaluation. Included among this group are six low- and middle-income countries, four bilateral aid agencies, three development banks, three foundations, one international NGO, and one multilateral organization. Supported by CGD staff, members will design a new impact evaluation entity as mandated by the June 2006 meeting in Bellagio, Italy. Among the group's tasks are identifying an appropriate governance structure, membership responsibilities and financial arrangements. The group aims to complete its work in the first quarter of 2007.
An Evaluation Agenda for the World Bank
In a recent CGD publication, Rescuing the World Bank, Bill Savedoff and I co-authored a chapter (pdf) on the Bank's opportunities in impact evaluation. We urge the Bank to become more of a "knowledge bank" that invests in rigorous studies to produce new evidence about what works in poverty reduction and economic growth.
GAO Audit of MCC Focuses on Evaluation
As reported on our MCA Monitor blog, the MCC was recently subject to an audit by the Government Accounting Office. A review of MCC operations in Madagascar, Cape Verde and Honduras resulted in four major recommendations, the first of which was to improve monitoring and evaluation. The report recommends not only strengthening of monitoring and evaluation activities, but also improving the collection of baseline data to enable more rigorous social impact assessments.
Global Development Network Provides Competitive Funds for Impact Evaluations
The Global Development Network extended the deadline of its fifth Global Research Project "Promoting Innovative Programs from the Developing World: Towards Realizing the Health MDGs in Africa and Asia" to November 17. By providing new, independent and flexible funds, this $5.9 million project will generate much-needed impact evaluations and cost-effectiveness analyses of programs from the developing and transition world.
- "Poverty: what counts", a recent article in the Financial Times recognizes the evaluation gap: "It is astonishing that we still know so little about what sort of aid works. Donors - and their critics - are too quick to embrace the latest fashion and too slow to ask the hard questions about what really works in development."
- As a continuing advocate of rigorous evaluation of US government programs, the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy (see Help Desk) has developed a Hierarchy of Study Designs For Evaluating the Effectiveness of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Education Project or Practice, that was accepted by the US Academic Competitiveness Council as the standard for rigorous evaluation (see one-page overview).
- A UK report, "The Role of 'Pilots' in Policy-Making" (pdf) is an interesting look at the successes and failures of implementing pilot projects to test policy innovations.
- Two handbooks on how to conduct impact evaluations have recently become available, each with a different methodological approach. See "Using Randomization in Development Economics Research: A Toolkit" (pdf) for a guide on how to include randomization in research design, and "Shoestring Evaluation: Designing Impact Evaluations under Budget, Time and Data Constraints" for a look at ways to manage constraints to evaluation design through alternative approaches. An older, but still relevant handbook is this comprehensive one by the World Bank: "Evaluating the Impact of Development Projects on Poverty: A Handbook for Practitioners."
- Randomized Testing the Key to Better Aid Programs? by Nancy Birdsall comments on a NY Times article describing a randomized trial of an HIV prevention scheme.
- NYC Cash Transfer Plan and the Power of Impact Evaluation by Ruth Levine demonstrates how a well-evaluated social program made its way from Mexico to New York City.
- The Evaluation Gap Hits Close to Home by Jessica Gottlieb reviews "Drowning in Data," an article on program evaluation in the US.
If you have news or highlights to share in future mailings, please send them to Jessica Gottlieb (email@example.com). For those currently in Washington, DC, I will be discussing impact evaluation with CARE's Jim Rugh at a development roundtable (pdf) at the School of Advanced International Studies on Friday, November 17 at 12:30 PM.
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Thanks and regards,
Director of Programs and Senior Fellow
Center for Global Development