A little over a decade ago, talk was swirling around the greater nonprofit community, particular from donors, regarding the need for developing institutional evaluation capacity. However, there seemed to be no clear vision as to the process for developing that capacity. In 2004, ECDG was formed and an ECD Toolkit was created to provide substantive guidance as to what organizations could do.
More recently, a call for national evaluation capacity development (NECD) has became more pronounced. It is emanating from national governments and their multi- and bi-lateral partners and donors. When discussing national evaluation capacity, national is frequently expressed as synonymous with governmental evaluation capacity.
Members of parliament are realizing the importance of evaluation; results-based management practices are becoming more established along with goal-based evaluations; and staffs in ministries are increasingly being trained in conducting evaluation. These are important initiatives but they are only part of NECD.
Developing national evaluation capacity (NECD) is frequently initiated as an external endeavor. UN, other multi- and bi-lateral donors and external consultants act as the impetus and provide support for strengthening evaluation within governments.
Besides government agencies, the synergy from cross-sectorial evaluation capacity between the public sector, private sector and civil society will strengthens the nation’s capacity. Collaborative opportunities among diverse stakeholders should be part of the NECD process. They could include: universities, institutes and research centers; professional evaluation associations, societies and networks; nonprofit and national civil society organizations; the private sector – both employers and workers; individual consultants and consulting firms; as well as the UN and other multi- or bi-lateral development agencies based in the country.
In addition to horizontal evaluation capacity described above, vertical ECD can integrate the national government with subnational levels down to the level of community participants. Creating an infrastructure for participatory processes of data collection across agencies enhances cross-validation of data and a greater accuracy of information. It can have the dual role of enhancing intergovernmental coordination as well as accountability with greater transparency. Having a system in place at the provincial level to collect, consolidate, and verify performance data can lead to improved planning and policy-making throughout the system. The participation of the recipients of services in the evaluation process can enhance accountability with local pressures for government to follow through on its commitments and carryout its policies.
Collaboration and partnerships across borders involving nation-to-nation support for evaluation capacity has been taking place and should be encouraged. Examples of this are indigenous-to-indigenous ECD and south-south cooperation. Culturally appropriate evaluation can be supported as well.
ECDG developed a Toolkit for Evaluation Capacity Development to support organizational ECD with the addition of a New Guide to ECD as our own thinking advanced. We have recently updated the New Guide to reflect a national scope of evaluation capacity development as more focus is placed on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We hope that you will find the ECDG Guide to National Evaluation Capacity to be useful and look forward to your feedback. It is available for free download on our website at: http://www.ecdg.net/ecd-knowledgbase/ecdg-downloadable-documents/