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Hold Post Evaluation Action Reviews

USAID’s Evaluation Policy holds that evaluation is useful only insofar as it provides evidence to inform real-world decision making.  A systematic post-evaluation review process at the Mission level is a useful mechanism for encouraging  action on evaluation recommendations.

To ensure that institutional learning takes place and evaluation findings are used to improve development outcomes, USAID ADS 201 describes an internal utilization or action-focused process to be undertaken after USAID has met with the evaluation team, asked questions, received explanations and report revisions, as warranted, and accepted an evaluation report. One way of carrying out the four action-focused steps listed below, and in ADS 201, is through a post-evaluation review meeting at which USAID staff:

  • Review the key findings, conclusions, and recommendations systematically;
  • Determine whether [USAID] accepts/supports each finding, conclusion, or recommendation;
  • Identify any management or program actions needed and assign responsibility and the timelines for completion of each set of actions;
  • Determine whether any revision is necessary in the joint country assistance strategy or USAID country development cooperation strategy, results framework, or project, using all available information.

This post-evaluation follow-up guidance is not new; its presence in ADS 201 predates USAID's 2011 Evaluation Policy by a number of years. What is new is USAID's focus on the relationship between evaluation, learning, and evidence-based planning and decision-making.

From that perspective, this kit includes ideas about how Missions can enhance evaluation learning and utilization, including optional templates that support the ADS defined post-evaluation steps recommended above. At the same time, be aware that in early 2013, USAID announced that it is planning to develop a standard Mission Order on Monitoring & Evaluation as part of the Agency's Standardization Project.

Conceptually, a post-evaluation review serves the same learning-into-action purpose as an after-action review USAID might undertake to extract learning and action implications from an event, such as a natural disaster, or a significant political or economic event, as described in USAID's After Action Technical Guidance, highlighted on this page. For evaluations a simple Post Evaluation Action Review Template, along the lines shown in the example below, can be used to facilitate a post-evaluation review/action meeting. A usable version of this optional Post-Evaluation Action Review Template is provided in this section of the kit website. Recommendations (and actions) included in the sample Post-Evaluation Action Review table below are "fictionalized" based on recommendations actually included in USAID's 2011 evaluation of its trade acceleration activity in Vietnam, which did a good job of writing recommendations that are specific in nature and which designate who should take action on them, as is recommended in USAID's evaluation policy.

Example of a Post-Evaluation Action Review Table

Evaluation Recommendation Acceptance Status Responsibility for Action Deadline for Implementation
USAID and the Implementing Partner (IP) should examine and discuss with the government the idea supporting the introduction of international-standard corporate governance and corporate accounting rules and practices. Accepted IP to develop a concept paper for discussion with the government, but limit its focus to trade-related applications. January 2013
The IP should look into the prospect of providing technical assistance to the government to establish permanent legal drafting units in the National Assembly and the executive branch. Rejected (recommendation passed on to DG office in Mission)    
USAID and the IP should follow up on National Assembly Members' and staff interest to expand their understanding of the working of a small open economy in the international economy and selected macroeconomic and trade management issues. Accepted IP to organize/include quarterly seminar program for National Assembly members/staff in work plans for final phase of the activity. FY 2013 work plan (October 2012)
USAID should look beyond the horizon of its current activities and discuss with the government what critical strategic initiatives the government should undertake to deepen its economic transformation and how USAID-funded technical assistance can support the government effort with a more focused in-depth technical assistance program for trade. Accepted Mission CDCS Development Team Prior to CDCS FY 13, Q2 launch

Mission are free to develop their own approaches and forms for fostering post-evaluation action on evaluation recommendations. Ad hoc reports from participants in USAID evaluation courses indicate that some Missions have established procedures for post-evaluation reviews.

Missions that already have post-evaluation procedures for encouraging the utilization of evaluations, or are in the process of developing them, are encouraged by ADS 201 to incorporate information about them in their Mission Orders, including when they should be held, i.e., how soon after an evaluation report has been accepted; who will normally chair post-evaluation action meetings; and whether and when follow-up reports will be prepared on actions agreed to in post-evaluation meetings. USAID guidance does not prescribe answers to these process questions.

To facilitate the preparation of follow-up reports on post-evaluation decisions about the implementation of evaluation recommendations, a sample format is provided below. Note that this table, based on the example above, does not include follow-up on a recommendation USAID rejected during its post-evaluation review. A usable version of this optional Post Evaluation Action Follow-Up Tracking Report is provided in this section of the kit website.

Example of a Follow-Up Report on Post-Evaluation Action Review Decisions

Evaluation Recommendation Responsibility for Action Deadline for Implementation Implementation Status
USAID and the Implementing Partner (IP) should examine and discuss with the government the idea supporting the introduction of international-standard corporate governance and corporate accounting rules and practices. IP to develop a concept paper for discussion with the government, but limit its focus to trade-related applications. January 2013 On schedule for delivery 1/25/13
USAID and the IP should follow up on National Assembly Members' and staff interest to expand their understanding of the working of a small open economy in the international economy and selected macroeconomic and trade management issues. IP to organize/include quarterly seminar program for National Assembly members/staff in work plans for final phase of the activity. FY 2013 work plan (October 2012) Done. First quarterly seminar to be held in March 2013
USAID should look beyond the horizon of its current activities and discuss with the government what critical strategic initiatives the government should undertake to deepen its economic transformation and how USAID-funded technical assistance can support the government effort with a more focused in-depth technical assistance program for trade. Mission CDCS Development Team Prior to CDCS FY 13, Q2 launch Done. Trade discussion in the CDCS updated to reflect trade acceleration activity evaluation findings & recommendations

In the World Bank and in several United Nations agencies, follow up on evaluations also includes Agency-wide efforts to track the percentage of evaluations that are adopted and, of those, the percentage that are actually implemented. These efforts not only provide those agencies with a sense of the extent to which evaluations are being utilized, they also help them identify impediments to evaluation utilization. As USAID's 2009 study of Trends in International Development Evaluation Theory, Policy and Practices explained, when World Bank follow-up on evaluation recommendations showed a low adoption rate, the Bank began interviewing staff to learn why and discovered that "lack of specificity and practicality in evaluation recommendations was an issue….the Bank has been able to correct that problem and improve its adoption rate for evaluation recommendations, which it views as a critical first step towards ensuring that evaluations lead to improvements in aid effectiveness."

Evaluation follow-up dashboards are used by the some agencies, including UNDP, which tracks the status of evaluation recommendations and actions on a publically accessible dashboard from which the example below was extracted.

While USAID policy does not require evaluation follow-up of this nature, some Missions may find it useful to explore this dimension of their evaluation practice simply to learning, like the World Bank did, whether there are important obstacles to evaluation use.

UNDP Independent Evaluation Management Response Status Report

Table: UNDP Independent Evaluation Management Response Status Report

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