Working Group on New Evidence Tools for Policy Impact

June 01, 2021

The final report of the working group is available at

Following the release of the Center for Global Development report, When Will We Ever Learn: Improving Lives Through Impact Evaluation, and building on the rigorous impact evaluations of cash transfer programs in the 2000s, there has been over a decade of progress and action on implementing and using impact measurement for public policy decision-making. Alongside a steady increase in the number of published impact evaluations of programs and policies in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), there is also a growing community of researchers and organizations from LMICs conducting these studies. There have also been a range of methodological developments, some of which have expanded the applications to new domains and some of which have increased the ability to derive inferences that make impact evaluation more policy-relevant. Further, the COVID-19 crisis has underscored the need for high-quality, timely, and context-specific evidence—for both effectiveness and political credibility.

Yet, impact evaluations—which are part of a knowledge system that captures relevant and timely information for decision-making—have gained variable traction overall. There are persistent challenges that limit the use of evidence by policymakers within LMIC governments, aid agencies, MDBs, and NGOs. For example, evaluation evidence is not always timely or generalizable; evaluations may lack relevance to public policy decisions and may not always align with decisionmakers’ priorities; and ways of working can lack context-specificity and immersion in the local policy process, among other challenges.

In response to these challenges and building on progress to date, CGD launched a working group to consider how the next generation of investments in impact evaluations—as part of the broader evidence and data ecosystem—can enhance their usefulness, responsiveness, and relevance for public policy decision-making. A renewed agenda is needed to help increase the efficiency of investments in impact evaluations so that they have the greatest chance of increasing the social and economic returns of public policies and programs.

Throughout the working group process from 2020 to 2022, CGD sought to highlight the perspectives and experiences of policymakers and leaders from LMICs, aid agencies, MDBs, and NGOs, among other evidence users and experts from the broader development research and evaluation communities. In parallel, CGD conducted and comissioned a set of background research to inform the group’s deliberations. The process culminated in a final report that offers practical recommendations for a renewed agenda for impact evaluations to move toward more and better funding and improved ways of working over the next decade.

Working Group Chairs

  • Amanda Glassman, Center for Global Development
  • Ruth Levine, IDinsight

Working Group Members

  • Tania Alfonso, US Agency for International Development
  • Norma Altshuler, Open Philanthropy and formerly William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
  • Jeannie Annan, International Rescue Committee
  • Essaïd Azzouzi, Millennium Challenge Account-Morocco
  • Kelly Bidwell, Office of Evaluation Sciences, US General Services Administration
  • Cynthia Bosumtwi-Sam, Innovations for Poverty Action
  • Baboucarr Bouy, Effective Intervention
  • Annie Chumpitaz, formerly Ministry of Education, Peru
  • Cláudia Costin, Center for Excellence and Innovation in Education Policies, Getulio Vargas Foundation
  • Iqbal Dhaliwal, Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab
  • Casey Dunning, Millennium Challenge Corporation
  • Peter Evans, U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre
  • Marie Gaarder, International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie)
  • Seth Garz, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Ashu Handa, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the Transfer Project
  • Daniel Handel, 3ie
  • Gonzalo Hernández Licona, Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network
  • Michael Hiscox, Harvard University
  • Prudence Kaoma, Ministry of Finance and National Planning, Zambia
  • Andrew Karlyn, formerly Living Goods
  • Janeen Madan Keller, Center for Global Development
  • Megan Kennedy-Chouane, Development Cooperation Directorate, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Catherine Kyobutungi, African Population and Health Research Center
  • Arianna Legovini, Development Impact Evaluation, World Bank
  • Ida Lindkvist, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation
  • Timothy Lubanga, Office of the Prime Minister, Uganda
  • Laurenz Mahlanza-Langer, Africa Centre for Evidence, University of Johannesburg
  • Santhosh Mathew, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundatio
  •  Mushfiq Mobarak, Yale University
  • Nompumelelo Mohohlwane, South African Department of Basic Education
  • Gulzar Natarajan, Government of Andhra Pradesh, India Paul Niehaus, University of California, San Diego
  • Amos Njuguna, Network of Impact Evaluation Researchers in Africa
  • Radha Rajkotia, Innovations for Poverty Action Ferdinando Regalia, Inter-American Development Bank
  • Mauricio Santamaría, Asociación Nacional de Instituciones Financieras—Centro de Estudios Económicos
  • Neil Buddy Shah, Clinton Health Access Initiative
  • Russell Siegelman, Stanford Business School

Working Group Staff

  • Julia Kaufman, Center for Global Development

Final Report and Materials

Final report: Breakthrough to Policy Use: Reinvigorating Impact Evaluation for Global Development

Summary brief 
• Spanish PDF
• French PDF

Tailored recommendation briefs
• Leveraging Knowledge Generation for Policy Impact: Recommendations for the World Bank
• Mainstreaming Evidence Use through Locally Led Development: Recommendations for USAID
• Investing in a New Era of Evidence-Informed Decision Making to Improve and Save Lives: Recommendations for Philanthropies

Summary blog post

Timeline on over two decades of progress in the impact evaluation landscape
• Digital version
• Print version

Infographic on impact evaluation by the numbers

Videos featuring working group members reflecting on report findings and recommendations

Social media toolkit with sample tweets and posts, key messages, and more

Background papers
• Meeting Policymakers Where They Are: Evidence-to-Policy and Practice Partnership Models
• Rapid and Rigorous Impact Evaluation: Advances in the Methods and Data Available for Timely and Cost-Efficient Evaluation

Press release