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Public Program Evaluation


Public program accountability, transparency and effectiveness have become increasingly important in today’s public sector operating environment. To ensure public funds are being spent in the most effective and efficient manner, governmental agencies and bodies have sought to systematically gather and analyze data and information on their programs by engaging in program reviews and evaluations. Means by which to assess the impact programs have had on their intended demographic (summative impact analysis), and the process by which the impacts have been achieved (formative process analysis), have become increasingly relevant for public sector departments and organizations. In addition the ability to replicate successful programs and communicate lessons learned is an important goal for many programs.

A Formative Process Evaluation reviews Planned Work and seeks to determine if implementation matches design and context. Recommendations are typically around making the process more efficient or ensuring measures of outputs, outcomes and impact are realistically defined, valid, and can be measured.

A Summative Impact Evaluation reviews Intended Results and seeks to determine the success or effectiveness of the program. That is, the degree to which it was able to accomplish the objectives prescribed when the program was established and the short and long term impacts it has had on the target audience. Continuous measurement and evaluation of activities, outputs, and outcomes ensures that the program is implemented effectively and efficiently, remains relevant to the intended beneficiaries, and achieves intended outcomes. In essence effectiveness means value for money.

Value for money can be defined in terms of the performance and relevance of activities:

  • Performance implies value in terms of economy, efficiency and effectiveness
    • Value = expected outcomes and impacts were achieved
    • Economy is resource utilization. Cost-economy = how much did it cost to deliver a training session?
    • Efficiency is outputs achieved in an affordable manner. Cost-efficiency = how much did it cost per training session participant and how does this compare to other similar programs?
    • Effectiveness is the extent to which objectives have been achieved. Cost-effectiveness = how much did it cost per training session participant who was able to find suitable a job?
  • Relevance means there is a demonstrable need that is appropriate to address
    • Demonstrable need = context and background continue to show that program is needed
    • Appropriate to address = aligned with relevant priorities and responsibilities

To learn more about how to effectively and efficiently evaluate your public program, contact your local MNP Consultant.