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Maximize Your Evaluation Dollars

NCJ Number
NIJ Journal Issue: 254 Dated: July 2006 Pages: 16-19
Date Published
July 2006
4 pages
Publication Series
This article describes the National Institute of Justice’s approach in identifying which programs are more likely to yield evaluations that maximize a State or local agency’s return on its investment, thereby saving governments’ time and money.
In assessing whether a program can sustain a rigorous outcome evaluation, an evaluability assessment must first be conducted. In the second step, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) reads the complete files of potential programs for evaluation reducing the list of potential candidates. Program managers must be able to explain how the program’s primary activities contribute to its eventual goals. After a rigorous screening, if a program seems promising, a site visit may occur. These site visits reveal operational strengths and flaws otherwise not visible. During a site visit, the target population is assessed, the data is examined, and an evaluation design is selected. At the conclusion of the assessment process, evaluators write a report that recommends whether the program should be evaluated. This assessment guides decisions about which programs are good candidates for an outcome evaluation, as well as helps evaluators develop the research design and estimate the cost. This evaluability assessment approach has worked well for NIJ with State and local agencies achieving a level of success and minimizing evaluation risks. This article offers a description of an evaluability assessment approach utilized by NIJ which can assist program administrators at all levels of government save considerable time and money.

Date Published: July 1, 2006