Evaluation's Role in Guiding Public Policy and Government with Rakesh Mohan

Rakesh Mohan has been the director of the Office of Performance Evaluations (OPE; https://legislature.idaho.gov/ope/) an independent and nonpartisan agency of the Idaho State Legislature, since 2002. We cover critical issues related to evaluation and how it can guiding government and public policy.

Interview on YouTube

Under Rakesh's direction, the office has received many awards, including the American Evaluation Association’s 2016 Outstanding Evaluation Award and 2011 Alva and Gunnar Myrdal Government Evaluation Award. He is also the recipient of 2016 Donald and Alice Stone Outstanding Practitioner Award from the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA).

Recently he wrote a chapter for the book Evaluation Failures, published by Sage (2019), which we discussed previously in the interview with Kylie Hutchinson. His chapter was titled, “I Didn’t Know I Would Be a Tightrope Walker Someday: Balancing Evaluator Responsiveness and Independence.” He has also served on the American Evaluation Association’s board of directors, the editorial advisory board of New Directions for Evaluation, and the US Comptroller General’s Advisory Council on Government Auditing Standards.

Here are some of the topics we cover:

- How his office works provides guidance to the Idaho State Legislature

- Keeping the primary stakeholders in mind is essential to conducting relevant evaluations and effective reports. Here's an example of a one-page evaluation summary from his office: Child welfare system: Reducing the risk of adverse outcomes https://legislature.idaho.gov/ope/reports/r1803/

- What he suggests to someone who wants to work in government related evaluation

- The main differences between his evaluation work and what most external evaluators do

- Rakesh discusses an evaluation related mistake he made and what he learning from it

- How he and his team reduce bias and improve clear thinking in their work

Some of his favorite evaluation resources include:

- BetterEvaluation: https://www.betterevaluation.org/

- Eleanor Chelimsky interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pF34RdRPISw

- Eastern Evaluation Research Society: http://eers.org/

- Pew Research Center: https://www.pewresearch.org/

- US Government Accountability Office (GAO): https://www.gao.gov/


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