Evaluation Policy


Built on our agency’s rich tradition of evaluation, this policy sets out an ambitious recommitment to learn as we do, updating our standards and practices to address contemporary needs. In an increasingly complex operating environment, the discipline of development demands a strong practice and use of evaluation as a crucial tool to inform our global development efforts, and to enable us to make hard choices based on the best available evidence.

This policy was developed in response to calls from within USAID. The development professionals who apply their best thinking to solve hard problems know that we can learn more systematically from our work, and that we can more rigorously and credibly document our programs’ effectiveness. I have been inspired to see the broad and active engagement throughout the organization in establishing high standards that reflect an enduring commitment to using well the resources entrusted to us.

I have great expectations for the work of USAID. I expect us to succeed in some of our efforts, and to fall short in others. I expect a strong evaluation function and feedback loop that enables us to be accountable in both cases, and to learn from each so that we can make continuous improvements. We can do this only with evidence and data to inform our decisions, and with unprecedented transparency about what we have learned and where.

That is why I am so excited to share this policy. In it you will find more demanding evaluation requirements, ensuring that the majority of our program resources are subject to evaluation. You’ll learn of our commitment to high methodological standards that are clear from the design stage, and that ensure to the extent possible that a different evaluator using the same methods would arrive at similar findings and conclusions. We will be unbiased, requiring that evaluation teams be led by outside experts and that no implementing partner be solely responsible for evaluating its own activities. We will be transparent, registering all evaluations and disclosing findings as widely as possible,with standard summaries available on the website in a searchable form. To support these new standards,we will reinvigorate our training, ability to access technical expertise, and investment in evaluation.

Importantly, it is our hope that you will find this policy in and of itself a basis for our own organizational learning. We will continue to improve and make adjustments as we implement so that we can incorporate new ideas and maintain its relevance for USAID.

In the end, the measure of our success will not be predicated on the number of evaluations done, or stored within a database, or even solely upon the quality of the findings. We’ll be successful if and when the evaluation work of USAID contributes to greater development effectiveness. When implemented, our vision of success is that this policy will make us better able to identify areas where we are more capable of achieving development results, and those where we have less success and therefore need to improve. Our success will depend on our ability to use evaluation findings to strengthen our efforts and sharpen our decision-making. With the implementation of this policy, we expect a step change in the quantity and quality of evaluation findings that inform our own strategies, program design, and resource allocation decisions; and we will contribute to the global community with new, practical and rigorous knowledge. I feel very privileged to be a part of this team and part of this commitment.

Rajiv Shah
U.S.Agency for International Development

Last updated: March 11, 2016