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The Office of Development Effectiveness

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ODE evaluations

The Office of Development Effectiveness (ODE) manages and conducts strategic evaluations of the Australian aid program. Strategic evaluations are broad assessments of Australian aid that focus on key policy directions, specific development themes and sectors, or large programs (geographic or global). These evaluations typically examine a number of investments, often across multiple countries, regions or sectors. They highlight what has worked, or not worked, and identify systemic issues that facilitate or constrain the effectiveness of Australian aid. Recommendations from ODE’s evaluations inform both strategy setting and operational practice and assist in identifying new and innovative ways to deliver Australian aid.

"Through its evaluations, ODE demonstrates the value of what we do in some of the most politically unstable and economically weak environments in the world, and recommends how we can improve."

Frances Adamson, Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Publications are available on the ODE Publications page and the DFAT Program Evaluations page.

Selection of topics for evaluations

The following principles have guided the selection of topics for strategic evaluations:

  • Policy relevance: assessing progress on implementation of the Australian Government's policy priorities, including the Foreign Policy White Paper.
  • Potential learning benefits: focusing on areas where there is a strong demand for insight, information or guidance within DFAT or contributing to global knowledge.
  • Coverage and materiality: over time, ODE's evaluations should provide appropriate coverage of expenditure by sector, theme, country and region.
  • Risks to aid effectiveness: examination of issues that pose a challenge to the Australian aid program and its reputation.

Review of Uptake of ODE Recommendations

DFAT’s management responses to ODE's evaluations are a public commitment to implement actions in response to accepted recommendations. ODE periodically assesses the extent to which actions listed in management responses have been implemented and reports on progress in ‘Review of Uptake of ODE Recommendations’ report.

ODE also uses the Review to determine if ODE evaluations have influenced aid program management and policy and identify lessons to improve the impact of subsequent ODE evaluations.

Current evaluations

ODE has suspended its evaluations to pivot work towards supporting DFAT’s COVID response. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, ODE was working on the following evaluations:

  • Delivery of Australian Aid Objectives through Multilateral Organisations: an assessment of how Australia has promoted 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper priorities through exerting influence within multilateral organisations. The evaluation covered a broadly representative sample of 13 multilateral organisations including multilateral development banks, special purpose funds, and United Nations agencies.
  • Pacific Economic Infrastructure: an exploration of how Australia can maximise development outcomes and promote Australia's strategic and policy priorities through its economic infrastructure investments in the Pacific.
  • Conflict Prevention and Peace Building: an examination of policy settings, institutional settings and Whole-of-Government engagement practices to inform the review and development of policies and contribute to international knowledge sharing of good practice engagement.
  • Literacy in Melanesia: a strengths-based case study to identify and explore the drivers of student literacy outcomes in Melanesian countries as a basis for strengthening Australia’s contribution.
  • Flexible and adaptive management: a review of the effectiveness of facilities and other flexible and adaptive aid management programs.

Awards for excellence in evaluation

ODE’s strategic evaluations have twice won the Australasian Evaluation Society Award for Best Public Sector Evaluation (evaluations of the Australian NGO Cooperation Program and Australian Volunteers for International Development). These awards recognise an evaluation by an Australasian public sector institution that has brought real and measurable change in policy or programs.

Tracey McMartin, Assistant Director, ODE and David Goodwins, Senior Principal, Coffey International Development with Awards for Excellence in Public Sector Evaluation for ODE’s evaluation of Australia’s NGO cooperation Program. Credit: Kanu Negi, DFAT
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