Last year, we published our Rethinking Evaluation blog series, which generated a lot of reader interest. Over the past 18 months, people have asked me why I wrote the Rethinking Blog Series. In particular, did I have in mind that it would evolve into the global consultation process recently commissioned by the DAC Network on Development Evaluation.
I had – mistakenly – assumed that the rationale for the “Big 5” evaluation criteria was well understood. After so many years of use, it became almost second nature to use these criteria, as opposed to other options, in our evaluations. [Recent] discussions revealed that while the DAC evaluation criteria were indeed well known, the underlying rationale for using them was not.
I was pleased to hear that the DAC Secretariat was committed to revisiting the criteria. Not to start from scratch but build on the successful foundation that the criteria had established. But, also in recognition of the need for change in changing times.
The growing interest in strengthening development outcomes has stirred increasing debate about evaluation effectiveness. Today, many development institutions subscribe to what has come to be known as the DAC evaluation criteria. Specifically, these are five criteria – relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact, and sustainability; in short R/E/E/I/S – that underpin most evaluations in international development.
Evaluability assessments help determine “the extent to which an activity or project can be evaluated in a reliable and credible fashion” (OECD-DAC: 2010: 21). In doing so, they inform stakeholders about the potential feasibility, scope, approach, and value for money of an evaluation.