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Development evaluation

Development evaluation

Evaluations play an important role in support of a high-quality development assistance program. Evaluations provide opportunities for:

  • Learning – contributing to the body of knowledge about what does or does not work in a particular context and why, and supporting an organisational culture focused on innovation and continuous learning.
  • Management – generating evidence and learning to inform decisions about new and existing investments, Development Partnership Plans and development policies and strategies.
  • Accountability – demonstrating the effectiveness of the development program to stakeholders, including the Australian public, the Australian Parliament, partner governments, implementing partners and the communities DFAT works with.

Evaluations also assist DFAT meet its accountability obligations under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, which requires DFAT to assess and report on its financial and non-financial performance.

Evaluations

View the full list and links to all program evaluations published since 2017, and all evaluations by the former Office for Development Effectiveness.

Program development evaluations [XLSX 72 KB]

Program-level evaluations are initiated and managed by program areas, such as country and sector programs. Programs have flexibility to determine the highest priority issues their evaluations should focus on.

Strategic evaluations were independently initiated evaluations managed by the former Office of Development Effectiveness. They were broad assessments of Australian aid that focus on policy directions or specific development themes. They typically examined a number of investments, often across multiple countries, regions or sectors.

Development Evaluation Policy

DFAT's Development Evaluation Policy applies the principles of the Commonwealth Evaluation Policy and supports implementation of Australia’s International Development Policy. It sets out the development evaluation processes followed by DFAT. This includes responsibility for undertaking evaluations, how they are to be undertaken, and the systems in place to support quality and use.

Development Evaluation Plans

Development Evaluation Plans are a key component of DFAT’s Development Evaluation Policy. Under the policy, country, regional, global and thematic program areas nominate, complete and publish a minimum number of independent evaluations with management responses each year, focused on priority information needs. Under Australia’s International Development Policy DFAT will move to multi-year development evaluation plans.

Evaluation resources

DFAT Design and Monitoring and Evaluation Standards

The aim of the DFAT Design and Monitoring and Evaluation Standards is to improve the quality and use of Design and M&E products, and to integrate evaluative thinking into everyday work. They are designed to support the whole program cycle in DFAT - from concept through to design and implementation including monitoring, review, and evaluation.

Review of Quality and Use

Under Australia’s International Development Policy DFAT has committed to undertake an annual review of the quality and use of all evaluations listed on the Development Evaluation Plan. A Review of Evaluation Quality and a separate Review of Evaluation Use was completed in 2023.   

Ethical research and evaluation guidance

DFAT’s Ethical Research and Evaluation Guidance Note sets out the requirements for ethical practice in research and evaluation. It aligns and reinforces DFAT's existing policies related to international development management, conduct and risk management, and embeds the existing international and national codes and frameworks set within the four Ethical Principles. The Guidance Note applies to all DFAT-funded activities, both Official Development Assistance (ODA) and non-ODA investments, that involve research or evaluation with human participants.

Good practice evaluation examples

Examples of good practice evaluation products (terms of reference, evaluation plans, and evaluation reports) have been compiled for use by development managers and evaluators.

Useful evaluation links

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