Identifying the need for evaluation capacity assessment tools and guidance.
In 2011, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) published its Evaluation Policy. The policy emphasizes the need to conduct more evaluations of its programs to ensure greater accountability and learning, and it outlines best practices and requirements for conducting evaluations. Since releasing the policy, USAID has commissioned an increasing number of evaluations of its programs. The importance of evaluations for international public health programs has been long recognized, with demand for such evaluations coming from both internal and external sources. Donors or those external to program implementation seek evidence of accomplishments and accountability for resources spent, whereas those involved in program implementation seek evidence to inform and improve program design. Within USAID, the need for more evaluations was driven by the understanding that evaluations provide information and analysis that prevent mistakes from being repeated and increase the likelihood of greater yield from future investments. Finally, there is overall recognition that evaluations should be of high quality and driven by demand, and that results should be communicated to relevant stakeholders. Despite the increased demand for evaluations, there is limited evaluation capacity in many countries where international development programs are implemented. Before strategies to strengthen evaluation capacity can be implemented, it is important first to assess existing evaluation capacity and develop action plans accordingly. We conducted a review of existing assessment tools and guidance documents related to assessing organizations’ capacity to carry out evaluations of international public health programs in order to determine the adequacy of those materials. Here, we summarize the key findings of our review of the literature and provide recommendations for the development of future tools and guidance documents.