When considering evaluation requirements, it is expected that any evaluation of public sector programs will:
- specify criteria for determining the success of the program;
- focus on the key issues that will inform decision making;
- use a systematic and evidence-based approach to assess performance;
- be reliable, useful and relevant to decision makers and stakeholders; and
- be timely.
To enable these criteria to be met, evaluations should be built into the program design and have the following features:
- clear, considered Evaluation Plan;
- clearly defined roles and responsibilities;
- strong stakeholder engagement;
- evaluation milestones timed to be able to inform decision making;
- strategies in place to compensate for any potential deficiencies in evaluation design, data collection and analytical methods;
- checks and balances in place to ensure validity of evaluation findings; and
- clear, transparent reporting that outlines methods, assumptions and key findings.
Engaging key stakeholders early on in the evaluation process can help to inform an appropriate evaluation design and improve the usefulness and acceptability of evaluation findings. Stakeholders are also much more likely to engage with and support the evaluation if they are involved in the evaluation process from the beginning.