Monitoring and Evaluation
IRI’s Evaluation Philosophy
IRI’s rigorous and innovative approach to monitoring and evaluation reflects its commitment to continuously improving its programming, capturing and communicating its results, ensuring resources are invested in programs that produce results, and helping to advance the field of democracy and governance work.
IRI’s work is focused on collecting objective and relevant evidence of program effectiveness, and using this data to adapt existing programs and inform future efforts. By doing this, IRI ensures accountability to its funders and the in-country partners and organizations with whom IRI works and supports.
IRI’s evaluation philosophy is guided by the following four principles:
- Monitoring and evaluation efforts reflect the highest standards of objectivity, rigor and ethics, including guidelines established by the American Evaluation Association.
- Monitoring and evaluation efforts are participatory and focused on use, resulting in relevant findings that show the impact of IRI’s work, and inform and improve program implementation and design.
- Monitoring and evaluation efforts respect the interests of key stakeholders, in particular in-country partners, and avoid unnecessary risks and disruptions to ongoing programming.
Monitoring and evaluation embraces the fact that democracy and governance programs are implemented within complex and often quickly changing environments, and should therefore explore program results in the context of the broader system of actors, relationships and processes that affect, and are affected by, IRI’s work.
To adhere to IRI’s philosophy and ensure accountability, the Institute’s monitoring and evaluation efforts are overseen by its Office of Monitoring and Evaluation. The office offers a one-stop shop through which program staff can get advice on monitoring and evaluation needs at any point in the program lifecycle, including: developing monitoring and evaluation plans, infusing evaluative thinking into proposal design, developing data collection tools and assisting with analysis, and compiling data into meaningful reporting.
Effective monitoring and evaluation, especially of democracy assistance, requires all stakeholders to contribute to monitoring and evaluation processes. IRI therefore trains its expatriate and in-country staff, as well as in-country partner organizations, to ensure they have the skills needed to contribute to monitoring and evaluation work. In addition, IRI’s monitoring and evaluation staff produce online training materials, and conduct regular field research and consultations. The Institute also provides mentoring and support to in-country organizations in designing and implementing their own internal evaluations.
Research & Evaluations
IRI engages in a variety of internal evaluations to capture evidence of program results, best practices and lessons learned, with the goal of promoting learning at the Institute and eventually in the field of democracy and governance. IRI also frequently commissions or participates in external evaluations of its programs, with IRI’s Office of Monitoring and Evaluation staff providing support to ensure that the evaluation meets IRI’s standards and principles, especially with respect to ethics and protecting the interests of key informants.
Expertise & Experience
There is a vibrant dialogue about the role of monitoring and evaluation in democracy assistance, and the relevance of various approaches. With 30 years of experience in the field of democracy and governance work, IRI is part of this important conversation.
IRI maintains memberships in numerous evaluation networks and working groups focused on evaluation of democracy assistance worldwide, including the American Evaluation Association and Washington Evaluators. IRI is also a participating member of the Experiments in Governance and Politics network, which focuses on assessing approaches to randomized control style evaluations of democracy and governance interventions.
IRI monitoring and evaluation staff are also regular participants and presenters at the annual American Evaluation Association conference, and have been invited to speak at a number of other conferences and roundtables that focus on evaluation of democracy assistance. As recognized experts, IRI’s monitoring and evaluation staff teach graduate courses at George Washington University and Georgetown University on monitoring and evaluation of foreign assistance (with a focus on democracy assistance).