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Data Foundation Looks Into Federal Implementation of Evidence Act’s Evaluation Provisions

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A Data Foundation survey has found progress in federal agencies’ implementation of evaluation provisions in the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act.

Data Foundation said 68 percent of surveyed federal evaluation officials said their agencies had published an evaluation policy and 41 percent of respondents said their organizations came up with an annual evaluation plan for fiscal year 2022. 

The respondents reported high levels of collaboration with chief data officers, statistical officials and senior executives in drafting agency learning agendas, according to the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit think tank.

The study showed that evaluation officers are experienced and clear on their roles. Nearly 90 percent of respondents said they spent more than five years in the federal government with at least half of them serving as an evaluation official for over five years. Seventy-one percent of respondents said they understand their role as an evaluation official.

Seventy-five percent of respondents said they think evaluation officials are “better able to fulfill the evaluation capacity and process issues codified in the Evidence Act at the time of the survey than compared to 2018, before the Evidence Act was passed,” the report reads.

The study also found that the size of budgets and staffing to back evaluation differ greatly across the government and that evaluation officers need additional support and resources to advance implementation of Evidence Act.

The report listed eight recommendations to further advance the evaluation function in the federal government, including the need for the Office of Management and Budget and agencies to request funding flexibility and increased resources in the president’s budget request for evaluation capacity and the call for senior agency executives to empower evaluation officers to carry out training and educational initiatives about evaluation.

The Data Foundation surveyed federal evaluation officials between Oct. 22 and Nov. 15, in partnership with the American Evaluation Association. The complete contact list for the survey included 158 valid contacts. A total of 21 respondents completed the survey, reflecting a response rate of 13 percent. While 32 contacts responded to at least part of the survey, showing a 20 percent response rate.