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Hinting at the national capital location, the theme also captures two important but often neglected ideas in evaluation:

  1. Firstly, evaluation is a durable asset for sound governance. That is, longevity and permanence should be built into our evaluation systems because societies with more evaluation capital are better off than those with less.
  2. The second idea, concerns the inherently political nature of evaluation and that evaluation commissioners and practitioners must be sensitive to the effect of politics when making their evaluative choices.

The challenge for us is to understand the strengths and vulnerabilities of both politics and evaluation, and to use both of them to help us contribute to public policy in a meaningful and enduring way.
Eleanor Chelimsky, 1995, 'The political environment of evaluation and what it means for the development of the field', AEA presidential address

The five sub-themes

Build systems

Technical and organisational strategies and alliances to build evaluation systems and embed evaluation within and across organisations as durable assets of public value
  • Build robust evaluation systems that address the tough questions about the organisations contribution to the common good, cumulatively develop evidence about what works to address complex social, economic and environmental problems and build demand for evaluation
  • Build system leadership for evaluation across different levels of scale, responsibility, complexity of operations and impact
  • Invest in building the technical capacity and the culture to do and to use evaluation to enhance policies and programs as part of a long-term iterative process for creating public value
  • Build evaluation alliances across organisations to build evaluation capital for assessing collective impact

Use findings

Realism and sensitivity to political processes and practical needs surrounding an evaluation to maximise the use of findings to enhance public policies and programs
  • Focus on the use of findings from the outset by engaging with the primary intended users
  • Embed evaluative reasoning across the policy cycle and policy debates
  • Negotiate appropriate methods to generate findings that have credibility with intended users
  • Engage with the people who will use the findings and report in a style that is appropriate for decision makers
  • Maintain realistic expectations about the actual potential use of findings in major areas of policy

Insights from theory

The centrality of building and testing theory to build enduring value for public policy
  • Obtain wisdom and insights from the wealth of evaluation theory  by learning from the experience of expert evaluators
  • Strengthen and build Indigenous and non-Indigenous culturally safe evaluation theory
  • Gain insights from using substantive theories and program theories to inform each other

Learn from practice

Professional skills and reflective practice for enhancing evaluation capital
  • Extend professional skills within an overarching frame of evaluative attitude and ethical practice
  • Learn through systematic reflective practice and sensitivity to political tensions

Diverse identities

Diversity and cultural inclusivity in evaluation theory, practice and use to enhance the value of public policies and programs
  • Incorporate diverse identities, values and views and promote cultural inclusivity to acknowledge different stakeholder priorities and positions of power and privilege
  • Anticipate the diverse range of political and ethical positions through extending the breadth and depth of pre-evaluation discussion and negotiation processes
  • Think about methods in a critical and inclusive way and draw on alternative theories of knowledge construction in a complex world
  • Consider how diverse stakeholder perspectives affect the political credibility of evaluation capital