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The Federal Evaluation ToolkitBETA

Working with Evaluators

You're convinced of the value that evaluation has to offer for your program, policy, or operation and are ready to champion pursuing this approach to building evidence. Now what? Where do you begin? Who do you talk to? These resources will help you move forward, knowing what questions to ask, what to look for when reviewing evaluation plans, and more.

Identifying Resources

Resources are an important part of any evaluation, but knowing how to identify resources or figure out the level of resources needed can be a challenge. These tools help you figure out what resources are needed and offer ideas about how to identify potential resources.

Identifying Resources for Evaluation

Conducting evaluation requires resources. This Q&A explains how to identify resource needs for an evaluation, describes resources that may be available, and discusses how to engage external experts to build staff capacity.

Related Resources Resources Planning

Budgeting for Evaluation

To create a realistic and appropriate program evaluation budget, it is important to think through key factors that drive evaluation costs. This guide presents five factors to consider, including program features, the evaluation’s goals, who will conduct it, how it will be carried out, and how findings will be shared, and includes a sample template that itemizes key costs to consider at both the team and staff levels. 

Related Resources Resources Planning

Identifying Evaluation Questions

Behind every rigorous evaluation is a clear, well-written empirical question(s) that drives the evaluation design and execution. Yet, writing a strong evaluation question is not so simple. These resources and tools will help you develop and refine your evaluation questions, providing a critical foundation for your evaluation.

Evaluation Questions Checklist for Program Evaluation


Evaluation questions guide the selection of your evaluation method, data collection tools, and data analyses. Use this checklist to convert your information needs into effective and appropriate evaluation questions and to assess their quality.

How to Develop the Right Research Questions for Program Evaluation

Slide Deck

This slide show describes four steps to develop evaluation questions: create a logic model, define the evaluation purpose and scope, select the evaluation type, and produce evaluation questions. It includes exercises and templates for developing research questions for process, outcome, and impact evaluations.

Related Resources Planning Design Methods

Quick Guide to Writing a Strong Evidence-Building Question


Use this worksheet to plan, draft, and finalize a strong evidence-building question. Broadly consider how the question relates to the purpose and relevance of the effort, types of evidence, methodology, and resources.

Assessing Readiness

An important, but often overlooked component of any high-quality evaluation, is a program's readiness to be evaluated. How do you know if your program, policy, or operation is ready for evaluation? These resources will help you assess your program, policy, or operation's readiness for evaluation.

How to Develop a Program Logic Model

Slide Deck

Logic models are effective tools to assist in program planning, implementation, management, evaluation, and reporting. View this presentation to learn the key components of a logic model, how to develop a logic model and use it in the context of evaluation planning.

Related Resources Planning Evaluation Questions

Research and Evaluation Capacity: Self-Assessment Tool and Discussion Guide for CCDF Lead Agencies


Use this tool and discussion guide to identify strengths and gaps in your organization’s capacity to conduct research and evaluation, and set priorities to build capacity where needed. It includes self-assessment scales, a checklist, and questions to guide next steps. Check out the overview to learn more about how this resource can help you.

Related Resources Planning

Introducing the Impact Evaluability Assessment Tool


Use this checklist to assess your program’s readiness for a rigorous evaluation to measure impacts. It highlights elements that are needed to evaluate the impacts of a program, and helps the user consider organizational, program, and evaluation readiness. It may also be helpful for evaluation planning and communication.

Related Resources Planning Methods

Initiating an Evaluation

Planning an evaluation requires careful consideration of factors like who to engage in your agency, what evaluation designs might be possible, and who might conduct the evaluation. These resources can improve evaluation planning, and provide useful tools for selecting an external evaluator (if needed).

Initiating an Evaluation Tip Sheet

Initiating an evaluation requires several key decisions. This resource lays out critical questions you have to answer around evaluation purpose and scope, stakeholder relationships, connecting evaluation activities and outcomes, evaluation goals, and evaluation plan and timeline to optimize front-end decision-making, and includes a sample evaluator information worksheet.  

Related Resources Planning Design

How to Manage an External Evaluation

Slide Deck

Program evaluations may be executed by agency staff or by an external entity not directly involved with the program (e.g., research organization, university, etc.). This presentation describes the key tasks involved in overseeing an external evaluation: 1) deciding who will manage the external evaluator; 2) defining the evaluation purpose, scope, and timing; 3) setting a budget and obtaining resources; 4) seeking and selecting an external evaluator; 5) establishing a contract or consulting agreement; and 6) managing the evaluator.

Related Resources External Evaluation

Evaluator Screening Tips

Finding an external evaluator who can effectively execute your evaluation takes strategy and careful planning. Use this tip sheet to understand what kinds of experience and expertise to target, how to confirm an evaluator’s background and publications online, and how to assess technical knowledge through reference and conflict of interest checks, reviews of reports, and responses to a statement of work. Check out the overview to learn more about how this resource can help you.

Related Resources External Evaluation

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