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Friday, September 21 • 11:00am - 12:00pm
Evaluation Ready: Transforming government processes and ensuring evaluability

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Ruth Pitt (Department of Social Services), Lyn Alderman (Department of Social Services), Katherine Barnes (Department of Industry, Innovation and Science), David Turvey (Department of Industry, Innovation and Science)

Abstract 1: Evaluation Ready: transforming government processes

The Australian Government's Digital Transformation Agenda, announced in the 2015/16 federal budget, includes establishing two grants hubs, the Business Grants Hub (located in the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science) and the Community Grants Hub (located in the Department of Social Services). These hubs are intended to streamline how grant programs are designed, established and managed across the Commonwealth. This centralisation of grants administration is a significant systems-level change that presents both challenges and opportunities for evaluation.This presentation will outline the work being done at the two Departments to embed evaluation services within their respective grants hubs, looking at key successes to date and challenges ahead. In particular, it will examine how the hubs have moved evaluation planning into the design phase by ensuring evaluation is included in the costings for new programs and by providing 'evaluation readiness' services. These services align with the utilisation-focused evaluation approach of holding 'launch workshops' to assess and enhance evaluation readiness, with the aim of improving the timing and relevance of future evaluation activities (Patton 2012). The speakers will discuss the implications of these services for evaluative thinking and practice. How each of the hubs capitalise on the opportunities offered through centralised evaluation services will be of interest to evaluators who are interested in transforming evaluation from being on the periphery of programs to being at the heart of their design and delivery.Reference: Patton (2012) Essentials of Utilization-Focused Evaluation, Sage Publications.

Abstract 2: Evaluation Ready: ensuring evaluability

Ensuring good evaluation involves more than just hiring evaluators and setting them to work. It requires preparation, capability and an evaluation mindset. It requires programs to be evaluation-ready. How reassuring would it be if program developers knew from the outset the types of evaluations planned for their program and when they would commence? If they knew the questions that would be asked and the methods and indicators that would be used to answer them? And if evaluators were confident that the data required would be collected, tested and available for use when needed? In short, if evaluability was assured? This presentation explores how the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science's Evaluation Ready tool has improved the evaluability of its programs. At or near the design stage of a new program, Evaluation Unit staff work with policy and program specialists to develop a program logic, evaluation questions, data requirements and an evaluation schedule. These documents comprise an evaluation strategy, which informs program documentation including application forms and reporting templates. The tool has been reviewed and refined to enhance speed and consistency of application. The unit's ambition is to have it considered public sector best practice. In this presentation, the experience of applying the Evaluation Ready tool in the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science is explained and its impact on evaluability is assessed. Examples illustrate how the process has all but eliminated the need for scoping studies and evaluability assessments. We show how the process interacts with program rollout arrangements and performance reporting frameworks for individual programs. And as it hasn't always been easy, we highlight some of the challenges encountered and lessons learned along the way. 

avatar for Keren Winterford

Keren Winterford

Research Director, Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney
Dr Winterford has 20 years of work experience working in the international development sector, in multiple capacities with Managing Contractors, NGOs, as a private consultant, and more recently in development research. She currently provides research and consultancy services for numerous... Read More →

avatar for Lyn Alderman

Lyn Alderman

Chief Evaluator, Department of Social Services
Dr Lyn Alderman brings a wealth of expertise to her role as Chief Evaluator. Lyn’s experience spans several sectors including nonprofit, corporate, higher education and vocational education. She has a deep disciplinary knowledge and experience in program evaluation, evaluation frameworks... Read More →
avatar for Ruth Pitt

Ruth Pitt

Assistant Director, Evaluation Uni, Australian Government Department of Social Services
Ruth Pitt is Assistant Director of the Evaluation Unit at the Australian Government Department of Social Services. Her evaluation experience includes diverse roles in consulting, government and not-for-profit organisations, in Australia and overseas. Her qualifications include a Master... Read More →
avatar for David Turvey

David Turvey

General Manager, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
David Turvey is the General Manager of the Insights and Evaluation Branch within the Economic and Analytical Services Division of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. David oversees the Divisions research and analytical work on the drivers of firm performance and the... Read More →

Friday September 21, 2018 11:00am - 12:00pm AEST
Chancellor 5