Following up on some individual exchanges I have had recently with colleagues regarding the quality of RFP & ToR for evaluation in “development”, some of my takes:
If it doesn’t value it is not an evaluation: The extent to which something has been achieved is a measurement question, not a valuing question. Checking to see whether intended results have been achieved, or not, unintended positive, negative, etc. does not make an evaluation. Evaluative reasoning is required to value.
Purpose: The specific value proposition of the specific evaluation to the specific claim/rights holders based on their value perspectives. To say the purpose of the evaluation is learning and accountability is meaningless (and applicable to thousands of evaluations)
Approach: The valuing frames that evaluative reasoning will consider. Participatory is not an approach.
Methodology: How the evaluation proposes to fulfill its value proposition, considering context, time and resources.
The OECD-DAC “criteria”, as are all other off-the-shelf one-size-fits-all operationalized value perspectives, are the expression of a specific valuing frame that may not be appropriate to valuing the evaluand at hand, i.e. it is a production process framing. This is especially the case in “donor” financed RFP where they are routinely used without due consideration.
If an RFP&TOR specify the methodology it is a task based assignment, i.e. it is a matter of doing what you’re told and paid for. In those cases, which are a majority, the independence and autonomy of the evaluation is compromised from the start, as are the claims and rights of holders.
RFP should include the proposed budget in all cases.
A good question to ask at the start, for both commissioners and interested parties: what is it that this proposed evaluation will do that a performance audit can’t do?
Ian C. Davies
Credentialed Evaluator/Évaluateur Qualifié
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