About the Author: Stephanie Cabell is a program analyst in the Bureau of Resource Management's Office of Strategic and Performance Planning.
For the past several years, the State Department has been engaged in efforts to integrate robust evaluation of programs as an integral part of our business. Spurred by the need for greater agency-wide use of performance and evaluation information to support strategic planning and budget processes, State has been cultivating tools to systematically incorporate evaluation research to document program accomplishments as well as ineffective practices. With the implementation of new evaluation policy, joint capacity building initiatives with USAID, annual conferences on program evaluation, and the establishment of a Community of Practice within the agency, the Department is laying the groundwork to strategically plan for, conduct, and integrate high-quality evaluations into the management and study of government programs.
This year's conference on program evaluation will be held June 7-8 and is entitled Diplomacy, Development, and Defense -- Evaluating Foreign Policy Success. The conference will bring together evaluation practitioners; program managers at State, USAID and the Department of Defense; other government agencies; academicians and students; representatives from international affairs and foreign embassies; non-governmental organizations; and the private sector. It represents a unique opportunity to gather with colleagues around a shared interest in exploring the role of evaluation in supporting and advancing successful defense, diplomacy and development initiatives.
You can participate! The conference's program committee invites presentation proposals that address effective evaluation methods in diplomacy, development, defense, or building evaluation capacity. More information about proposals is available here. The deadline for submission is February 18, 2011.
The 2010 conference on program evaluation, New Paradigms for Evaluating Diplomacy in the 21st Century, was an exciting opportunity for more than 200 professionals in international affairs to reflect on how foreign affairs agencies can make effective use of evaluation to understand progress towards global level impact. In her message to conferees, Secretary Clinton talked about the benefits of making rigorous program evaluation a central component of strategies to make the most effective use of our diplomatic and development tools and resources.
Last year's conference generated discussion on the growing importance of evaluation and measurement in the work of foreign affairs agencies, and highlighted such issues as interagency coordination among agencies with similar missions, the role of public diplomacy as a successful foreign affairs strategy, incentivizing evaluation to encourage the sharing of lessons learned, and creating ways to connect with the larger evaluation community. You can view proceedings from the 2010 conference here.
The Department used feedback from the 2010 conference to launch a Community of Practice to foster interchange and knowledge-sharing among State's growing community of evaluation practitioners. You can request more information about State's evaluation Community of Practice here. We look forward to your joining us in June!