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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: why robust evaluation matters

27 February 2017

News and media


“One of the things that drives my work is the promise of good evaluation,’’ says Patricia Rogers, Professor of Public Sector Evaluation and ANZSOG Evidence and Evaluation Hub Principle. “The other thing is the fear of bad evaluation.”

At its very least, evaluation that is not useful has an opportunity cost – time spent filling in forms or undertaking compliance that could instead be spent on actually improving performance. But bad evaluation can also be harmful – displacing efforts away from achieving positive outcomes to just tick off targets. With no shortage of examples of questionable evaluation in both the public, not-for-profit and private sectors, Professor Rogers urges us to consider why good evaluation matters, and how we can get it right.

“Governments now require greater scrutiny and assessment of public sector programs to determine whether they’re working – and for whom, and at what cost,” Professor Rogers says. “Evaluation is integral to decision-making – not an afterthought.”

The challenges of evaluation, the good, the bad and the ugly, will be explored in an upcoming ANZSOG executive workshop, “Evaluation in the Public Sector” being held in Canberra, 22-23 March. Co-directed by Dr George Argyrous, ANZSOG faculty and evidence and evaluation specialist, the workshop will examine both good and bad evaluation practices, looking at the reasons why and how robust evaluation practices really matter, and how to do it well.Over two days participants will work through a systematic process for planning and managing an evaluation, whether it’s contracted out to an external team or done in-house. They will learn how to focus the evaluation around identified purposes and questions, use program logic to make sense of the data, ensure that data collection and analysis will provide relevant and credible evidence to answer their questions, and how to support use of the evaluation findings. The course provides practical resources through BetterEvaluation the global platform on evaluation methods and processes that is now located at ANZSOG.This program will be valuable for people in policy, program and service delivery roles who plan and conduct evaluations, assess the quality of evaluation reports, and manage others who conduct evaluation studies.

Find out more about the Evaluation for the Public Sector workshop.