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Sidebar for Managing for Results: Evidence-Based Decision-Making


Bureau of the Comptroller and Global Financial Services
Report
November 16, 2012

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The State Department carries out its mission in a challenging global environment, facing complex concerns about national security, global health, economic growth and other facets that touch on the lives of Americans at home and abroad. Like other U.S. Government agencies that operate in an increasingly constrained budget environment under pressure to "do more with less," the Department of State and USAID have taken steps to confront the challenge of how to address these problems effectively, of how to determine what works and what does not.

The implementation in February 2012 of the Department's Program Evaluation Policy represented a significant milestone toward creating a learning organization with a commitment to accountability and the sharing of lessons learned, and using performance information to improve the effectiveness of Department of State funded efforts by basing programming decisions on evidence about what works. Consistent with the findings and recommendations of the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), the new Managing for Results framework lays the groundwork for integrated planning, budgeting and performance management processes that will promote both the production of good evidence and the actual use of that evidence. A component of the new Department of State-USAID Managing for Results framework, the Department's evaluation policy provides a strategy for gathering feedback in the management and study of Department of State-funded programs and projects. The policy aims to optimize the impact of the Department of State resources by increasing the level of evaluation and strengthening evaluation rigor, and by developing and utilizing a more rigorous base of information to guide decisions about program design, funding, implementation, and management.

In addition to program evaluations, the Department promoted other initiatives to strengthen the ways in which information is generated, used, and shared within diplomatic and assistance programs:

  • As part of an interagency effort with USAID and other partners, the Department undertook a foreign assistance indicator reengineering process to review and establish indicators that are the basis for standardized foreign assistance performance data collection. Further, the Department and USAID promoted the use of third-party country performance data and analytic best practices to facilitate more informed decision-making and alignment of foreign assistance resources against key policy priorities.
  • The Department implemented quarterly data-driven progress reviews that engaged Department of State program managers in regular discussions with the highest levels of Agency leadership. These discussions emphasize the use of performance data as a management tool.
  • As mentioned, Department of State and USAID developed a new planning, budgeting, program management and performance management annual cycle which incorporates evidence and evaluation. The new process enhances the feedback loop among all four components of the Managing for Results framework for decision-makers worldwide by:

    • Putting planning first, so that subsequent budget requests align with goals and objectives;
    • Instructing domestic bureaus and posts overseas to identify what success looks like and to measure progress;
    • Providing agency-wide tools to allow Department of State and USAID managers to drill down into each aspect of the framework, access guidance documents, tools and templates;
    • Incorporating the planning for and implementation of evaluations into strategic planning, program and project design, performance monitoring, learning and budget planning; and
    • Partnering with the Foreign Service Institute to augment training for employees.

In the next fiscal year, the Department will pursue these and other avenues to continue developing a more coherent and effective system in which we learn what works, address problems and more effectively, use reliable performance information to achieve policy and program goals.

 




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