With the announcement that Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) are to be closed by March 2012, it has become a priority for RDAs to pass on a legacy of learning in all areas of their work.
Although the learning contained within the RDAs’ published evaluations will be retained and available to access post-closure, when it comes to the practice of economic impact evaluation, there is a risk that the underpinning methodological knowledge could be lost. The methodology has been developed over a number of years, and to lose it would be a significant setback for evaluation techniques.
The document Getting to GVA aims to ameliorate this risk by presenting the fundamentals of impact evaluation in a practical way, enabling a project firstly to understand the fundamentals of evaluation and secondly to carry out a successful and practical self-evaluation using the M4E toolkit annex, which includes a gross-to-net impact model.
Organisations are strongly encouraged to continue to evaluate their projects, so that they are in the best possible position to both prove and improve their economic impact.
Monitoring for Evaluation
What is monitoring for evaluation? This document explains.
Monitoring for Evaluation (MfE) guidance and templates have been designed to assist projects in developing monitoring for evaluation plans. The guidance document explains the purpose of MfE and provides guidance on how to complete the MfE plan. There is one template for projects which include European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funding as well as Single Programme funding, and one template for projects which are wholly Single Programme funded:
There is also a worked example of an MfE plan for reference.
The monitoring plan should be designed during the developmental/appraisal phase, before the project/programme starts. This is to ensure that:
the right data are collected and sound baselines are established
the plan feeds into the proposed evaluation
draft specifications, grant agreements or contracts include the right information for the effective development of a business/implementation plan
implementation progress can be tracked and corrective action taken if needed
project partners are aware of their MfE responsibilities from the beginning of their involvement in the project
The monitoring plan should identify:
- Who collects the data
- What information is collected (key indicators, proportion of the participants covered, etc)
- How the data are collected (i.e. what monitoring methodology is employed)
- Where and in what form the monitoring data will be held
- What the frequency of data collection will be
- What the frequency of project reviews will be
The RDA developed a standard model brief that could be used as the template for commissioning evaluations. This builds on the principles of evaluation that were laid out in the DTi (now BIS) sponsored Impact Evaluation Framework (IEF). This guidance was further developed in the IEF+. The RDAs were committed to undertaking evaluation in a broadly consistent manner and this model brief directs the commissioning officer towards the issues that need to be considered in any evaluation.
Although some sections specifically relate to the RDAs' own tendering procedures, it may serve as a useful template for other organisations when considering evaluations. Importantly, it is based around the principles of the IEF.