Different modes of inquiry are needed for demonstrating accountability for Transformational Development programs. In addition to program implementation monitoring. program results evaluation, and impact evaluation there are disciplined reflection, worldview discernment and internal audit. The attached file describes three principles for internal and external accountability and how these modes of inquiry can be applied to answer six accountability questions. Click 88 MnE for accountability.
Note added September 2017: Programs that are funded by a grant may be required by the funding agency to host a monitoring evaluation. This is an inquiry exercise conducted by an external evaluator or auditor to determine if the program is in compliance with the conditions agreed by the program agency by accepting the grant and using resources provided by the grant. This way of demonstrating external accountability is not discussed further in this post.
There are two basic forms of external accountability for a community development agency: stewardship accountability and results accountability.
- The agency must be accountable for how it has allocated resources; auditing is the process that demonstrates the degree to which the agency has achieved stewardship accountability.
- The agency must also be accountable for keeping its promises as represented in project goals and objectives; evaluation is usually thought to be the appropriate process for demonstrating results accountability. But I believe that trustworthy monitoring is the more appropriate process. Evaluation is better suited for learning about what works and does not work by evaluating theory of change undergirding development projects.
When a development agency has major constraints on resources for accountability I recommend that they invest them primarily in risk-based auditing and trustworthy monitoring, and secondarily in evaluation. Regarding evaluation I recommend that the agency partner with other agencies to pool resources so that experienced evaluators can do sound evaluations related to community development theory. Evaluations that merely document achievement of project goals and objectives are inferior to trustworthy monitoring. (To explore this proposition see Michael Scriven’s description of the goal-achievement model for evaluation, goal-based evaluation, and goal-free evaluation in Evaluation Thesaurus, fourth edition, Sage Publications, 1991.)
There are two different emphases in program evaluation. One is to demonstrate accountability for achieving goals on time within budget. The other is to document learning about program theory and program implementation.
This paper describes a focus diagram that can be used with stakeholders to negotiate the relative emphasis on accountability and learning with the resources available for the evaluation. The diagram can also be used to show similarities and differences between different approaches to evaluation.
Click this link → Focusing an Evaluation