The Federal Evaluation Toolkit provides a curated set of resources to help Federal agency staff at all levels better understand evaluation - what it is, why it is important, and how it can help them execute on their missions more effectively. Recent legislative, executive actions, and OMB guidance have elevated program evaluation as a critical agency function, including the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 (Evidence Act), the Presidential Memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking, and OMB Memorandum M-21-27: Evidence-Based Policymaking: Learning Agendas and Annual Evaluation Plans. It is critical for all Federal staff (i.e., program staff, managers, and leaders) to develop their ability to understand, use, and apply evaluation findings in their work: their “Evaluation IQ.” Leaders and program managers want to make better use of evaluation, but may not know where to start or may be unsure about how to interpret, assess, or apply the evaluation findings available. This toolkit aims to meet this need; it is not intended as means to become a qualified program evaluator, but rather to support those across the Government in making better use of the evidence generated through program evaluations.
There are many high-quality tools and resources available that provide guidance on all aspects of evaluation from planning to execution to dissemination and use. For someone who is new to, curious about, or needs to learn more on evaluation, it can be difficult to know how to get started, where to go, which sources to trust, and what resources will be most helpful. By pulling together a single set of curated, high-quality resources from across Federal agencies and external entities, the Federal Evaluation Toolkit attempts to make this easier for Federal staff. Its resources include a range of formats and types, all with the goal of being clear, easy to use, and relevant to staff who need to understand, use, and apply evaluation findings.
The Federal Evaluation Toolkit includes resources developed exclusively for this purpose, existing resources adapted to meet the Toolkit's goals, and tools posted in their original format from their original authors. Pre-existing materials come from various sources, including Federal agencies, like the Institute for Education Sciences; the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF); and AmeriCorps. Many of these resources were developed by external entities under contract with Federal agencies. The Toolkit also includes resources from external entities engaged in program evaluation work. Finally, it includes a set of materials developed by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) under contract to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The Toolkit is designed so that users can start with whatever resources best fit their needs. For example, if you are interested in learning more about what the term evaluation means, you may want to peruse those resources under “Evaluation 101.” If you know what evaluation is, for example, but are interested in learning about how to hire an external evaluator, you can go right to the resources we have on that topic under “Getting Started.” For each resource, we include a short write-up that tells you what’s in the resource and how you can use it. We also include key words, so you can quickly identify related resources.
The Federal Evaluation Toolkit is a living resource, and we plan to update and revise it as needed. If you have questions or suggestions for items to include in the Toolkit, please let us know at email@example.com.
We would like to acknowledge the efforts of the many individuals and institutions that contributed to the Federal Evaluation Toolkit, beginning with Susan Jenkins, Dan Kim, Oluwarantimi Adetunji, and colleagues in ASPE. We would also like to recognize the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Evidence Team - Diana Epstein, Danielle Berman, Erika Liliedahl, and Erica Zielewski - and former Evidence Team detailees, Jenny Heintz (Millennium Challenge Corporation) and Lauren Deutsch Stanton (OPRE/ACF). Together, OMB and ASPE provided critical direction to NORC to develop the Toolkit. At NORC, we want to acknowledge the team that developed the Toolkit. A cross-agency Steering Committee provided strategic direction and insights throughout the development of the Federal Evaluation Toolkit, and we would like to thank Kelly Bidwell (Office of Evaluation Sciences at the General Services Administration [GSA]), Dan Kidder (Centers for Disease Control [HHS]), Rebecca Kruse (U.S. Department of Homeland Security), Kriti Jain (formerly with OPRE/ACF [HHS]), and Paula Daneri (OPRE/ACF [HHS]) for their participation. Finally, we would like to thank Sarah Yue in the Office of Shared Solutions and Performance Improvement at GSA for her support to bring the Toolkit to life on Evaluation.gov.