We have been waiting a long time for the NAO to produce its verdict on evaluation in government, but it is welcome nonetheless. What’s wrong At a time when budgets are under sustained pressure, it seems bizarre that government has adopted such an ad hoc approach to knowing whether its policies are working or not. The NAO points to: • Limited references to evaluation evidence in spending bids • Little systematic evidence on how evaluations have been used to inform policy decisions • Ad hoc models for commissioning evaluations • Cancellations of evaluations • Poor access for external researchers to government datasets. The NAO points to a range of “barriers to the production and use of evaluation evidence, on both the demand and supply sides. Chief analysts and their evaluation staff consider evaluation timescales and a lack of demand from their policy colleagues as key issues. We believe a key factor is the lack of incentives for departments to generate and use evaluation evidence, with few adverse consequences of failing to do so”. As such it echoes the findings in our 2012 report, Evidence and Evaluation in Policy Making: A Problem of Supply or Demand. What’s getting better But there […]

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