Saturday, 8 December 2007

Three-eyed monster

Let's have a closer look at the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (known as '3IE') which has been driven forward by Nancy Birdsall of the Center for Global Development (the subject of the previous post).

In Bellagio earlier this year a group of development agencies decided upon the wording of a proposed founding document for 3IE. It will be a non-profit membership body which will commission 'rigorous' impact evaluations of development programs. The founding members are:
  • African Development Bank
  • Asian Development Bank
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Canadian International Development Agency
  • Center for Global Development
  • Department for International Development
  • European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
  • Millennium Challenge Corporation
  • Ministry of Finance, Lesotho
  • Ministry of Finance, Nigeria
  • Ministry of Finance, Uganda
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands
  • Ministry of Health, Mexico
  • Ministry of Trade, Indonesia
  • National Treasury, South Africa
  • Planning Commission, India
  • UNDP-Regional Bureau for Africa
  • William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
They should obviously be applauded for their insight and ambition and other development agencies (most notably INGOs) should be encouraged to join 3IE as soon as possible.
However, in the spirit of constructive criticism it is worth highlighting three crunch questions as a litmus test for the robustness of the organisation:
  • Will the evaluation standards be explicitly defined, rigorous and methodologically sound?
  • Will the process for choosing impact evaluations ensure that the right studies are conducted?
  • Will there be institutional safeguards to ensure that members' blushes are not spared?
I hope the answer to all three is 'yes'; time will tell.

1 comment:

Howard said...

3ie welcomes the opportunity to engage with all those with an interest in international development. 3ie is still being set up. But we have a temporary website at www.3ieimpact.org, where you can read more about membership and submitting your own ideas to 3ie, either by the blog or questions for 3ie's research agenda.

Turning to the specific questions raised:

* Will the evaluation standards be explicitly defined, rigorous and methodologically sound?

= Yes, we have a draft "Principles for Impact Evaluation" which will be put on our website soon.

* Will the process for choosing impact evaluations ensure that the right studies are conducted?

= We have an open, consultative process to select questions from "the long list" of all questions submitted to 3ie for our consideration. Questions can be submitted before the end of June. Email them to enduring_questions@3ieimpact.org

* Will there be institutional safeguards to ensure that members' blushes are not spared?

= Absolutely. There the Board will NOT be made up of members, and 3ie will underpin the credibility of our process with external peer reviewers.

Howard White
Executive Director, 3ie