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National Evaluation Policy


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Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament on Wednesday that plans are underway to introduce a National Evaluation Policy next month to monitor policy implementation and ensure that development goals are met. If done right, this could address key criticisms of inefficiency and mismanagement levelled at the Government, but it would also need to be broad-based to evaluate social equity and gender impacts to be truly useful.       

Many countries around the world use monitoring systems largely to focus on financial and physical progress. In Sri Lanka, systematic evaluations have not been carried out on a regular basis to assist policymakers and related stakeholders, leaving an evidence gap that needs to be addressed, including the lack of evidence on how national policies and programs may impact women, men, girls and boys differently. Hence, the country requires strategic evaluation of interventions to ascertain the value for money as well as quality of delivery of services and their contribution to the development outcomes or results for these different groups. 

The use of well-designed and executed gender-responsive and equity-focused evaluations at strategic phases of development programs within all levels of Government is required. The adoption of a National Evaluation Policy (NEP) provides guidance and direction on the use of evaluation and its role in national development. The adoption of the NEP and its implementation could create an enabling environment for evaluations to be used as a tool for results-based management. As such, the NEP will enable evaluation findings, complemented by monitoring, to strengthen national policies and strategies to achieve equitable and gender-responsive results. If done right, a NEP can contribute to evidence-based decision-making for achievement of results through improved planning, budgeting, monitoring and managing public sector programs and policies. It could enable sharing and learning from evaluation findings to improve development planning, management and implementation, strengthen the evaluation function through introduction of techniques, systems, human resource development, inculcation of professionalism, setting of standards, and ethical guidelines for evaluation. Perhaps the most important of all, it could enhance and promote accountability, transparency, good governance, social equity and gender equality.

However, it is necessary to prioritise development programs for evaluation for operational and financial reasons. The number of programs or projects executed per Ministry, Department or Statutory Agency may be so numerous that it will be difficult to evaluate all of them. Factors such as finances, time and human resources may be the limitations.  Ideally, evaluations should examine the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact, sustainability and gender-responsiveness of policy, program or project initiatives before and during implementation. Evaluation methodology should focus on the financial, economic, social, environmental, technical, policy, institutional and sustainability aspects as may be relevant. Cross-sectoral issues such as gender equality, social equity and the environment should be assessed in all evaluations. Due consideration should be given to the political and policy environment. The financial and economic cost-benefit analysis to assess the value for money should be encouraged. Beneficiary assessment should form an integral part of evaluating programs. Putting together an effective NEP is a tall order. Given Sri Lanka’s existing challenges of efficiency, an NEP could become just another layer of bureaucracy and would need strong political will to bring tangible results. 

 


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