Giving Compass’ Take:
• Urban Institute examines what makes up an effective federal program evaluation office, including elements such as independence and transparency.
• It’s worthwhile to take a step back and look at how government evaluation officers operate, so that those in the nonprofit space know how to tailor their programs in order to have more impact. Are we doing enough to put evidence-based policies in place?
The bipartisan Evidence-based Policymaking Commission was authorized by Congress in 2016 to review the current status of evidence building in the federal government and make recommendations for improving the use of strong evidence in policy decisionmaking. The commission’s recent final report proposed ways to improve access to data, protect privacy and confidentiality, and strengthen evidence capacity building in federal agencies.
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An evaluation officer could be located at the departmental level, like at DOL, or at a subcabinet level, similar to the Administration for Children and Families at the US Department of Health and Human Services. Regardless of the organizational location, critical features should include the following:
- An evaluation policy statement.
- Guidelines for methodological standards.
- Transparent dissemination procedures.
- Professionally trained technical evaluation staff.
Although federal evaluation offices and chief evaluation officer roles will look different depending on departments’ needs and capacity, having these core features can help agencies build and use evidence to improve public programs.
Read the full article about program evaluation by Demetra Smith Nightingale at Urban Institute.
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