In the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, independent program evaluations are conducted on aid investments managed by country, regional and thematic programs.
Phase 1 Quality Review
The Review of 2017 Program Evaluations assessed program evaluations which were identified in the DFAT Aid Evaluation Plan and completed in 2017. The Review found that program evaluations continue to be a credible source of evidence for the aid program using modest consultant and financial resources. The Review also shows that publication rates and management response rates of program evaluations have strongly increased since the introduction of the DFAT Aid Evaluation Policy in 2016.
However, there is room for improvement. While the Review found that 71% of evaluations were of adequate or better quality, there has been a small decline in the overall quality of evaluations compared to the 2012 and 2014 Reviews. In particular, attention is required to ensure that high value investments are evaluated effectively.
The Review makes four recommendations for improving the quality of program evaluations.
Phase 2 Synthesis of learnings
Phase 2 included a synthesis of learnings from the 2017 program evaluation reports to identify what lessons could be learned that would be useful for DFAT on the following topics:
This paper highlights five key lessons on how DFAT can better undertake policy influence to achieve development outcomes in countries where we deliver aid. One of the lessons the paper highlights is the importance of a clear and deliberate strategy to engage with influence on policy choices. The paper illustrates different approaches used by DFAT development programs for policy influence.
As part of the Review of 2017 Program Evaluations completed in 2018, ODE commissioned a consultant to synthesise what these evaluations tell us about gender equality, amongst other topics.
The paper highlights five learnings on effective approaches for promoting gender equality through the Australian aid program. The lessons from the program evaluations will inform future aid programming to help DFAT meet its target of at least 80 per cent of investments, regardless of their objectives, effectively addressing gender issues in their implementation.