Foreign Assistance:

AID's Population Program Evaluations Have Improved, but Problems Remain

NSIAD-92-48: Published: Feb 21, 1992. Publicly Released: Feb 21, 1992.

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Harold J. Johnson, Jr
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Agency for International Development's (AID) population program evaluations, focusing on whether AID: (1) uses uniform indicators in evaluating its population programs' performance and impact; (2) has a system for measuring the impact of country-specific and agencywide population programs relative to program objectives; and (3) uses population assistance program evaluation results in making programming and funding decisions.

GAO found that AID took such steps to improve its population program evaluation process as: (1) establishing an evaluation mandate in its Office of Population; (2) making the Center for Development Information and Evaluation (CDIE) the focal point for analysis, monitoring, and evaluating program performance; (3) expanding its database to provide more complete population assistance data; (4) establishing a data tracking system; and (5) developing a strategy to target resources to the most populous countries. GAO also found that: (1) although AID has taken steps to improve its population program evaluations, AID still experiences problems since it does not uniformly use a combination of various indicators to evaluate its population program; (2) although AID established an evaluation agenda to determine which long-term results were attributable to AID programs, it could not calculate the extent to which AID population programs accomplished agencywide program goals; (3) although the AID Administrator articulated the populations program's objectives, the Directors of the Office of Population and CDIE stated that those objectives would not effectively measure the program's impact, since measuring progress against the Administrator's objective would, for the most part, be technically inappropriate and not feasible; and (4) population assistance evaluations are not systematically linked to agencywide programming or funding decisions.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AID clarified its program objectives and improved evaluation and measurement of program impact. AID recognizes that performance-based information is an important part of programmatic and budgeting decisionmaking. AID did not establish a standard set of operational objectives for its population programs and is giving missions the authority to develop strategic objectives based on local priorities.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, should: (1) clarify whether the three population program objectives he articulated in November are intended to be operational and measurable program objectives and, if not, clearly articulate the program's operational objectives so that program results, impacts, and accomplishments can be measured against them; and (2) use the results of such evaluations in making agencywide programming and budgeting decisions.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development


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