Optimizing Monitoring Systems for Learning and Accountability – Lessons from USAID and Department of State

Session Number: 2127
Track: Presidential Strand
Session Type: Panel
Tags: Organizational change, Organizational Culture, performance management system, Performance measurement
Session Chair: Travis Mayo [Evaluation Specialist - USAID]
Discussant: Kathryn Newcomer [Professor - George Washington University]
Presenter 1: Travis Mayo [Evaluation Specialist - USAID]
Presenter 2: Sarah Kohari [Chief, Performance Monitoring & Reporting - State Department]
Time: Nov 11, 2017 (09:15 AM - 10:00 AM)
Room: Maryland C

Abstract 1 Title: When Monitoring Met Learning, a Love Story
Presentation Abstract 1:

USAID’s Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning will illustrate how their large, de-centralized organization has continually evolved its monitoring process to give increased ownership of indicators to staff on the ground, while maintaining the integrity of robust accountability. The presentation will highlight the evolution of monitoring within USAID’s ‘Program Cycle,’ which sets a standard for integrating monitoring into the design, implementation, and evaluation of its programs.  Particular focus is placed on explaining how performance indicators, context indicators, and non-indicator based monitoring are merged with management practices rooted in collaboration, learning and adapting.  This is a marriage that had to fight against convention, against all the naysayers who said they could never make a life together work, but monitoring and learning found love despite the odds, hear their story.   


Abstract 2 Title: Strengthening a Foundation for Learning
Presentation Abstract 2:

The Office of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources helps oversee implementation of the Department’s Managing for Results framework, which includes all of the products and processes associated with Department planning, budgeting, managing, and learning. The presentation will focus on recent fundamental changes to the managing and learning components, highlighting a study of stakeholder data needs that led to changes in data collection systems and overhauling the set of standard foreign assistance indicators collected from missions worldwide. We will also highlight the organizational signals that led to the development of the Department’s Program Design and Performance Monitoring Toolkit and accompanying policy change, and how these foundational shifts are meant to improve the overall quality and utility of all Managing for Results products and processes.


Theme: Learning What Works and Why
Audience Level: All Audiences

Session Abstract (150 words): 

In this panel presentation, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Department of State will share how they are evolving their organizational cultures and monitoring systems from a focus on “check-the-box” reporting used strictly for accountability purposes to a focus on collecting useful data for organizational learning as well as accountability. The panelists will share how they came to recognize the need for this evolution, steps they have taken to promote change, and how they are addressing challenges to implementation. These lessons learned are distilled into a practical framework that others may use to assess what steps, if any, could be appropriate to implement in their own organizations to balance learning and accountability. These include empowering decentralized learning, establishing a foundation of sound program design, and addressing culture change. The discussant, Kathryn Newcomer, will facilitate session attendees’ sharing of additional ideas and experiences.