ABSTRACT

Does evaluation provide value for money? This chapter looks at a particular policy field – Swedish development cooperation – and takes a long-term perspective – 40 years – to outline an answer to that question. The costs are addressed first. These are the direct costs, the indirect costs, and the hidden costs. The former two are calculated or estimated with reasonable accuracy, but the latter can only be guessed at. The value side is estimated by first defining what kind of public good evaluation is meant to provide, namely contribute to accountability, decision support and learning. There is an extensive literature of whether and how the evaluation system contributes to these objectives. The evaluation system does indeed provide information for decision support, contributes knowledge and experiences for learning, and can be connected to processes of accountability. However, when the 3Es of a value-for-money assessment (economy, efficiency and effectiveness) are assessed, information is limited and it is often quite clear that the system does have serious problems. The main finding, that it is not possible to conclude that evaluation provides value for money, is in itself a cause for concern.