24.05.2018

Benefiting from better controls: higher standards for evaluations

Evaluations help us to achieve lasting improvements in our work. At the same time, they generate transparency for commissioning parties, clients and the general public.

How can people’s living conditions around the world be improved on a lasting basis? Which project approaches are especially effective, and where is there room for improvement? Evaluations and the information they supply are essential to the work of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. From the planning stage to final assessment, the federal enterprise’s activities and the results it achieves are therefore subject to regular external and internal scrutiny. 

For example, 169 projects from the years 2015 and 2016 were assessed for the evaluation report published at the end of February. They were analysed according to the uniform global standards of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). These projects – carried out on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) – earned an average overall score of 1.9, an improvement on the previous evaluation report, when the score was 2.2. 

What is more, the internal evaluation system itself is also reviewed regularly. The most recent analysis, in 2016, showed that the evaluations were considered useful for project work and cost-effective overall. However, when measured by international standards, project evaluation quality was average. 

To change this, GIZ launched a comprehensive reform of its internal evaluation system in mid-2017. Whereas project evaluations were previously conducted on a decentralised basis, the Evaluation Unit now coordinates and bears responsibility for them centrally at Head Office. They are implemented by independent external experts who were not involved in planning and implementing the projects concerned. Furthermore, a clear distinction has been drawn between project appraisal for preparation purposes and project evaluation for assessment purposes. These changes are designed, among other things, to improve the methodological quality of the evaluations. The principles and the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda are also being incorporated into the system. 

A report published recently by the German Institute for Development Evaluation (DEval) based on data collected in October 2016 confirms GIZ’s findings: the report’s recommendations on internal project evaluations largely correspond to the reforms already implemented. Its other recommendations are subject to consultations led by BMZ, as they concern the overall evaluation system for German development cooperation.