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Leading the British Government‟s fight against world poverty

David Peretz Chair IACDI Whatcombe House Long Bredy Dorchester DT2 9HN

Abercrombie House, Eaglesham Road East Kilbride, Glasgow G75 8EA

Tel: Email:

01355 843299 d-oneill@dfid.gov.uk

18 June 2008

Dear David Report on DFID's responses to Evaluation Reports in 2006/7 1. I am pleased to provide you with a report on DFID‟s follow up to recommendations made in evaluation reports during 2006/7. I have attached the evaluation tracker which shows summary of recommendations and follow up actions. (See Annex A). 2. This is the first time DFID has reported on this and as such this is “work in progress”. However, I am able to give a good indication of where DFID has performed well on evaluation follow up and where further work is required. Now that the system is in place, reporting in future years should be easier and more comprehensive. Summary assessment 3. Evaluation follow up is an area where there was substantial room for improvement in DFID. We are not unique in this – it is an area that many development agencies need to work on continually and this is one of the reasons why it was seen as high priority for IACDI. The overall picture at the moment is somewhat mixed but there are also signs of progress in the last twelve months. 4. Effective follow up depends on whether there is sufficient profile and focus on independent evaluation at senior level. a. At the top of the office this is very strong in DFID now, driven by the Capability Review‟s emphasis on measuring impact and the decision to set up IACDI and the Ministerial and Parliamentary interest in strengthening independent evaluation. The focus on results and independent evaluation in the new Permanent Secretary‟s speeches and sessions with senior DFID staff are the most recent example of how much more central these issues have become to DFID‟s work.

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b. There is probably room for improvement on how far this is embedded in a culture of results and evaluation further down the organisation – or how far capacity and other priorities allow it to be a priority - as the variable responses from hard-pressed country offices and policy teams to requests for engagement in independent evaluation show. 5. A second area is on systems. EVD has instigated its tracker systems which is generating the material summarised in the attached report. For DFID as a whole it is important that there are clear routes of accountability for using and following up on evaluation findings. Following the Capability Review recommendations, there are two new routes where results are being strengthened and which also mean that evaluations can and are being fed into decision making at the highest level; a. the Investment Committee chaired by Sue Owen as Director General leading on results – which you and the Head of EVD attend as permanent observers b. the Country Planning Review Committee chaired by Andrew Steer as acting DG on policy and international – which again the Head of EVD attends and can use to feed in findings from Country Evaluations. 6. Two areas where systems could be strengthened are a. As acting Permanent Secretary, Sue Owen also agreed that there should be designated directors for follow up on each evaluation. This is important since one of the issues has been how to deal with recommendations which cover a range of cross-cutting areas for DFID and where departmental heads might argue that it goes beyond their remit. b. In sending out requests for information on follow up in future, we need to routing these through regional cabinets and heads of office rather than directly to staff at more junior level. This will ensure this is actioned in the right way. 7. A final area is on making sure that evaluation recommendations are clear, actionable and targeted at the relevant areas of the business. As DFID has built up its experience of doing thematic and country evaluations, EVD has been able to improve the relevance and specificity of evaluation recommendations. This is reflected in the way terms of reference are set, consultants are managed, and quality assurance processes are carried out. General Budget Support 8. DFID accepted all of the recommendations from the GBS evaluation and reported that they had led directly to policy and operational improvements. In particular the recommendations had informed DFID‟s actions in regard to the design and delivery of GBS in Rwanda, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Vietnam as well as introducing the use of County Governance Analyses as the best practice for political analysis.

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9. DFID‟s updated policy on budget support and guidance on assessing benefits, published in February 2008 draw extensively from evidence in the joint evaluation, the country case studies and other studies such as the Tanzania and Ghana studies which followed a similar approach. In particular the up-dated policy highlights the importance of using aid instruments in a complementary and coherent manner to maximise the impact of all aid (budget support, sector programmes and technical assistance) and introduces the requirement for an assessment of political risks when taking decisions to deliver budget support. The guidance note pulls together evidence from the evaluation and other studies so that it can more readily inform DFID‟s assessments of the likely impact of individual budget support programmes. 10. The evaluation has also been influential outside DFID a. The launch conference for the evaluation in Paris in May 2006 had a big impact on discussions about PRBS policy among donors at the time, including some donors who were sceptical about the instrument and looking for a clearer evidence base, such as the US. b. It contributed the main body of evidence about the impact of budget support that fed into the National Audit Office‟s value for money study on budget support, published in February 2008. c. One year after the publication of the Joint Evaluation of GBS a study carried out by DFID on behalf of the DAC evaluation network examined what follow up had been carried out by DAC partners. Of the 18 bilateral and 2 multilateral respondents over 80% had already or were about to incorporate the key evaluation findings and recommendations into their GBS policy documents. Gender 11. DFID accepted the recommendations from the gender evaluation, and these fed directly into the Gender Equality Action Plan (GEAP) which was launched in February 2007. The GEAP sets out how we will further incorporate gender equality issues into our country programmes, and contribute to wider international efforts to do more to support gender equality and empower women. This is a two year plan, covering actions across DFID. 12. A number of Divisions, including all three regional Divisions, have developed more detailed action plans setting out their commitments to promote gender equality and women‟s rights in their work. A first year progress report on implementation of the Gender Equality Action Plan is being prepared and will be published soon. Most recently, the SCS committee has announced that performance pay for SCS will be linked to their performance against Gender objectives, signalling the high priority the management board are placing on Gender issues. This indicates a major step change forward since the 2006 evaluation.

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Country programme evaluations (CPEs) 13. The CPE synthesis fed into and was widely cited by the Management Board in their annual discussions with regional directors about delivery plans. Follow up on individual CPEs varied from good in some cases to weak in others, depending on whether the office agreed with the findings and recommendations and the evidence presented or their assessment of how well the evaluators have understood the country context. This is an evolving situation and more recently the follow up and engagement from country offices has been consistently stronger. This was due, in part, to DFID not having in place a management follow-up system for the earlier CPE evaluations. In a couple of cases the head of office asked for a CPE to be brought forward to feed into country planning processes and new heads of office clearly find them useful in providing an independent assessment of how the programme is doing. The chair of the Country Planning Review Committee has now asked that all new plans are accompanied by the most recent CPE and that the country team makes clear how it has been used. DFID‟s whole approach to country planning and results frameworks has been strengthened and this provides a stronger vehicle for monitoring and evaluation to feed into the process. Because this report relates to studies published during 2006/7 the progress on more recent studies will come through in next year‟s report. Further effort could be made to raise the important of CPEs in Head‟s of Offices priorities.

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Other studies 15. Looking at thematic and shorter studies published in 2006/7 there was a variable picture, for example: a. On social exclusion, the recommendations were not officially circulated by EvD at the time. The baseline study is now being followed up as part of the stocktake evaluation currently underway. Hence the stocktake of the social exclusion policy in 2008 will assess progress. b. The Technical Co-operation for Economic Management in Africa study fed into discussions at DFID‟s Development Committee, and was used for preparation of guidance for staff („How to Provide Technical Cooperation Personnel‟, June 2006 – implementation of this guidance will be reviewed shortly by AEAD). Follow up would have been stronger had the recommendations been more specifically targeted, and the case study evidence more robust. c. The synthesis of project completion reports for 2000-2005 led to a useful and high profile discussion with Senior Civil Service staff at the Awayday session that year on portfolio quality and scoring. The findings were given a big push by the Management Board at the time. This was part of the context for discussions with the board and then with the Capability Review team on DFID‟s systems on results and lesson learning, which eventually led to the Investment Committee being set up.
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16. A range of other studies were being finalised towards the end of 2006/7 and published early in 2007/8 and these will feature in the report on follow up next year – for example, several country programme evaluations and the major study on HIV and AIDS which was published in May 2007.

Yours sincerely Dominic O'Neill Head, Corporate Performance and Planning Group

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