Building the Practice of Evaluation at USAID: A Global Fellows Program

Session Number: 1455
Track: Organizational Learning & Evaluation Capacity Building
Session Type: Panel
Tags: Adaptive, aid organizations, communities of practice, Evaluation capacity building, organizational capacity building, organizational learning
Session Chair: Virginia Lamprecht [Evaluation Methodologist - USAID]
Discussant: Laura Arntson [Senior Monitoring & Evaluation Advisor - Social Solutions International]
Presenter 1: Virginia Lamprecht [Evaluation Methodologist - USAID]
Presenter 2: Tonya Caprarola Giannoni [Chief of Party - Social Solutions International]
Presenter 3: Andrew Fourney, DrPH [Monitoring and Evaluation Fellow - Social Solutions International]
Presenter 4: Jennifer Kuzara [MECap M&E Fellow - Monitoring and Evaluation Capacity Building (MECap) Program]
Time: Oct 27, 2016 (02:00 PM - 02:45 PM)
Room: M302

Abstract 1 Title: Designing an M&E Fellows Program for USAID (United States Agency for International Development)

Presentation Abstract 1:

USAID has designed a unique M&E Fellows Program to build the capacity of USAID staff. Mid- and senior-level Fellows who have recent experience designing and implementing field-based evaluations are placed in USAID Missions and DC-based bureaus after undergoing a rigorous vetting, orientation, and matching process. Fellows build USAID capacity by working collaboratively to develop required products such as performance management plans (PMPs) and evaluation statements of work. Embedding Fellows with recent, relevant experience in USAID alongside managers responsible for planning, commissioning, and managing evaluations helps to ensure that M&E processes and products are more likely to be documented as well as practical and feasible to implement. Fellows rotate to new placements every 6-24 months, taking with them valuable experience and lessons learned to share with other Missions. Fellows also participate in virtual communities of practice presenting opportunities to share better practices globally.

Abstract 2 Title: Managing a Fellows program for Capacity- Building: It’s all about the match!

Presentation Abstract 2:

Embedding an individual on a temporary basis with a USAID mission or office requires a set of processes to identify, select, and prepare the Fellow for the placement. There is a vibrant community of evaluators around the world, many of them members of AEA. Evaluators bring skills in evaluation design and methods. Yet, based on the experience from four cohorts, there are a set of skills that complement technical skills to foster good evaluation (and monitoring) practices while getting the job done. These skills include facilitation, communication, systems-thinking, and adaptability. In addition, each placement has unique requirements and thus Fellows are matched on types of professional experiences, such as having worked on non-presence evaluation and monitoring, in similar organizational settings, and evaluation planning (versus conducting) expertise.

Abstract 3 Title: Leverage Points for Sustainable Capacity Building

Presentation Abstract 3:

USAID M&E Fellows identify pivot points and leverage them to change M&E practices. This presentation will reveal leverage points identified in two USAID Missions (Armenia and Rwanda) and the strategies used to increase the likelihood that the mission would integrate good evaluation practices into work processes. The strategies created energy to improve information flow, decrease delays, align processes, elevate the value M&E, and refine goals. Some efforts produced more advantage than others. The likelihood of sustained M&E will be addressed.

Abstract 4 Title: Challenges to Evaluation in Non-Permissive Environments

Presentation Abstract 4:

There are numerous challenges to conducting evaluations for use and application in non-permissive environments. Challenges shared globally, such as the need to redesign instruments after piloting, and re-collect data are heightened in non-permissive environments—the very environments that require quick turnaround intervention design and adaptation. These same environments are under increased scrutiny and targeted for performance evaluations. The Somalia context is especially challenged with issues of evaluation design and data quality standards and timeliness of results. This is compounded by inherent challenges to building the capacity of donor agency technical teams—i.e., commissioners and users of evaluations—to develop evaluation questions and SOWs that will provide what is needed for programmatic decisions, and to recognize how evaluation findings, conclusions, and recommendations can be used. This presentation addresses some of the challenges and some steps to building the capacity of USAID in improving the quality and use of evaluations.

Audience Level: All Audiences

Session Abstract: 


USAID is the lead federal development Agency working in over 100 countries  worldwide.  To support USAID Missions in response to the demand for improved M&E systems, processes and products since its Evaluation Policy was published, USAID developed a Fellows Program to build the M&E capacity of USAID.  The Program features a rigorous vetting process and orientation to ensure highly qualified candidates that match well to each Mission placement.  Each placement is collaboratively designed and features opportunities to mentor USAID staff, document processes to create a ‘legacy’ after the Fellow has left, and develop a learning agenda to capture and share better practices across Missions.  The proposed panel will include designers and managers of the Fellows Program as well as two Fellows.  The presentation will be relevant to any large organization present in multiple locations seeking to build its capacity in M&E and learning to improve programming.