Evidence Guidelines Are Slated for U.S. Foreign Assistance Programs Under New Law

On July 15, President Obama signed legislation into law that would establish federal guidelines for monitoring and evaluating U.S. foreign assistance programs.

Under the new law, called the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act,  the next administration would be directed to issue guidelines by January 15, 2018 that would establish goals, performance metrics, and monitoring and evaluation plans for foreign assistance programs.

Among other provisions, the required guidelines must include:

  • Rigorous Monitoring and Evaluation Requirements: The guidelines must apply rigorous monitoring and evaluation methodologies to these programs, including through the use of impact evaluations, ex-post evaluations, or other methods, as appropriate, that clearly define program logic, inputs, outputs, intermediate outcomes, and end outcomes.
  • Impact or Performance Evaluations for Pilot Programs: The guidelines will require pilot programs to have either: (1) an impact evaluation, or (2) a performance evaluation with a justification for why an impact evaluation was deemed inappropriate or impracticable.
  • Use of Professional Standards: The guidelines must ensure that standards of professional evaluation organizations are employed for monitoring and evaluation efforts, including ensuring the integrity and independence of evaluations, permitting and encouraging the exercise of professional judgment, and providing for quality control and assurance in the monitoring and evaluation process.
  • Public Reporting of Evaluations: Evaluation results must be publicly reported within 90 days, including an executive summary, a description of the evaluation methodology, key findings, appropriate context, including quantitative and qualitative data when available, and recommendations.
  • Clearinghouse: The guidelines will also include provisions for developing a clearinghouse for the collection, dissemination, and preservation of knowledge and lessons learned to guide future programs for United States foreign assistance personnel, implementing partners, the donor community, and aid recipient governments.

The guidelines will apply to the following foreign aid programs:

  • USAID programs operated under part I of the Foreign Assistance Act
  • Overseas Private Investment Corporation
  • Economic Support Fund
  • Millennium Challenge Corporation
  • Office of Food for Peace in USAID
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