Evaluation 2017: From Learning to Action

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Are we making full use of Evaluation in the public sector?

Session Number: 2873
Track: Use and Influence of Evaluation
Session Type: Panel
Tags: government evaluation, evaluation use
Session Chair: Robert E Lahey, CE, FCES [President - REL Solutions Inc.]
Presenter 1: Robert E Lahey, CE, FCES [President - REL Solutions Inc.]
Presenter 2: Anne Routhier [Senior Director, Centre of Excellence for Evaluation - Treasury Board Secretariat - Canada]
Presenter 3: Stephanie Shipman [Assistant Director - US Government Accountability Office]
Presentation 2 Additional Author: Brian MooSang [Senior Advisor, Centre of Excellence for Evaluation - Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat]
Presentation 2 Additional Author: Nicholas Chesterley [Advisor, Centre of Excellence for Evaluation - Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat - Canada]
Presentation 3 Additional Author: Valerie Jean Caracelli [Senior Social Science Analyst - U.S. Government Accountability Offi]
Time: Nov 08, 2017 (06:15 PM - 07:15 PM)
Room: Thurgood Marshall East

Abstract 1 Title: Good evaluations are not enough! Government evaluation in turbulent
Presentation Abstract 1:

Despite the lengthy history of systematic evaluation in the public sector – some 40 years in those countries (US and Canada) deemed internationally to be among the leaders in evaluation practice – there continue to be questions and challenges about how and how well evaluation gets used by government officials. With a function that ought to be regarded as one of the cornerstones of good governance in the public sector, more understanding is needed of this dilemma. A model will be presented that postulates the link between evaluation and government decision-making. Looking ahead, the challenge of information and ideas in a ‘post-truth’-‘post-trust’ world are also discussed in the context of the perceived value of evaluation advice. Suggestions are given about what evaluators and the evaluation community in general ought to do to enhance the uptake of evaluation-developed knowledge, as well as what might be needed in shaping the institutionalization of government evaluation in going forward.

Abstract 2 Title: Lessons on Evaluation Use 2009-2017
Presentation Abstract 2:

In 2014, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) conducted an evaluation of the 2009 Policy on Evaluation. This evaluation established a baseline of policy results, including in relation to evaluation use and utility. It identified opportunities to improve the evaluation policy to better assist departments with their needs for information on programs’ performance and expenditures. Building on the Evaluation of the 2009 Policy on Evaluation, this session will discuss the various governance and mechanisms implemented to strengthen the use of evaluation results in decision making. It will also explain how the recent federal experience has informed the renewal of evaluation requirements under the 2016 Policy on Results. This new policy brings together in one instrument the requirements for performance measurement and evaluation to ensure that these two functions are robust and effective with assisting federal organizations in improving their achievements and reporting of results to Canadians.

Abstract 3 Title: Survey of U.S. Federal Managers’ Access to and Use of Program Evaluations
Presentation Abstract 3:

Evaluations can play a vital role in learning about programs’ implementation and effectiveness; however, getting results used in decision making is a recurring challenge.  In 2017, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) surveyed a nationwide sample of mid-and upper-level federal managers to ask about their access to and use of performance information and evaluation in management and decision making.  The survey also sheds light on the factors that managers believe facilitate or hinder evaluation use.  In 2010, the GPRA Modernization Act aimed to increase use of performance data and evaluation by requiring agencies to, for example, set a fewer number of priority goals and publicly report the results of quarterly performance reviews. The 2017 survey results will be compared to those from 2012 to assess whether managers are more likely to have evaluations or to use their results in decision making since the new requirements were put in place.  

Theme: Learning About Evaluation Use and Users
Audience Level: All Audiences

Session Abstract (150 words): 

Evaluation can play vital multiple roles in government – learning about a program’s implementation and effectiveness; identifying the most cost-effective approach for a government intervention; supporting strategic or budget reviews. But why then is getting evaluation results used in government decision-making a recurring challenge?  The panel addresses this through discussion of a recent survey of U.S. federal managers’ use of program evaluations by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and a systematic evaluation by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat to reshape its approach to government evaluation in Canada. The panelists will discuss what’s needed to better link evaluation to the needs of decision-makers at various levels in government. These lessons about enhancing the relationship and influence of evaluation with its users could have application for other governments or other levels of public sector evaluation.

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