Time to Learn: An Evaluation Strategy for Revitalized Foreign Assistance

  • Date Posted: July 21, 2011
  • Authors: Lucy Creevy, Jeanne Downing, Elizabeth Dunn, Zan Northrip, Don Snodgrass, Amy Cogan Wares
  • Organizations/Projects: DAI
  • Document Types: Evaluation, Assessment
  • Donor Type: U.S. Agency for International Development

Nearly a dozen high-profile reports and commissions have offered recommendations to the Administration on how U.S. foreign assistance should be restructured. Ranging from the organizational to the thematic, these recommendations provide a wealth of sometimes conflicting advice. There is a common thread, however, running through nearly all the recommendations: the need for improved evidence on foreign assistance effectiveness and accountability, with a particular call for “rigorous evaluation.”

This paper suggests fulfilling that recommendation by institutionalizing evaluation as a driving force in a system of continuous learning and program improvement at USAID. Simply increasing the number of evaluations conducted will not improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of development assistance. Most important is ensuring that evaluations result in learning that is integrated into decision-making as part of a learning cycle.