The objective of the evaluation of state policies, more specifically development policies, is to contribute to the increasingly efficient organisation of state operations, increasingly efficient use of state funding and ensure that state operations are made increasingly transparent.

Therefore, evaluation must be carried out on an on-going basis and at a high standard within the entire framework of public administration.

Basic principles

Use

This is a priority basic principle that prevails even at the cost of the violation several basic principles. The content of use: evaluations must benefit policy improvement. Therefore, the chapter on recommended changes is an essential part of all evaluations. However, recommendations must at the same time also be suitable for implementation, and must cover the material, personnel and institutional conditions of implementation. The way in which results must be logical and justifiable on the basis of data analysis and interpretation is equally relevant.

Objectivity

Evaluations must be based on reliable and verifiable data. All data and information used in the course of evaluation must be retrievable and documented. Evaluation criteria used in the course of evaluation on the grounds of which policies are evaluated must be logical, justified and public, in order to be able to debate the evaluation criteria as well. Evaluators must take account of the limitations of the evaluation methods. Evaluation conclusions must be based on information presented and processed in the evaluation, must endeavour to be objective, just and devoid of personal deliberation and judgement.

Completeness

Evaluations must use all relevant information available. It is important to define the scope concerned, because it is necessary to clarify their respective interests and take these into account in the course of evaluation. Moreover, evaluation accuracy is equally relevant, as is the timely performance of the evaluation, in order for it to help decision-making and improve and perfect procedures. Having gained knowledge of the source of information, it is possible to estimate whether the information is appropriate, reliable, valuable or useless. It is only desirable to screen out or disregard information, if it is not possible to verify the information, or document its source, or if the use of the information is disproportionate to its acquisition costs. 

Independence

The independence (devoid of conflict of interest, impartiality, unbiased) of the evaluation operation is required for the evaluation to operate appropriately. Depending on the content of the evaluation, independence refers to issuing instructions independently to the planner (the creator of the programme) or implementer (therefore, an employee is not authorised to evaluate their superior); however, organisational structural independence does not constitute a precondition for evaluation operations, since the ultimate goal of the evaluation is to contribute to the improvement of policies. Reliability, authenticity and competency of evaluators all ensue from evaluator independence, which is relevant in order for evaluation findings to reach their goal as efficiently as possible. 

Partnership

Evaluators must cooperate with the concerned individuals/entities, which is why it is necessary to define the evaluation objectives and make the concerned individuals/entities aware of these, since the tasks of the evaluators may consequently be re-interpreted or be given new priorities due to interaction. It is necessary to define the sphere of key players and compile a partnership plan defining the schedule at the start of the evaluation. Both within the framework of the evaluation procedure and when formulating recommendations, it is necessary to endeavour to be open in order to avoid that the concerned individuals/entities become opposed to the evaluation, or feel that they have no influence on procedures.   

Publicity

Evaluation must improve the transparency of state operations, which is why the result of the evaluation must be made public. Public access to documents on state funding complies with the government’s intention relating to the control of public finances; this is an external control and helps support the independence of evaluators as well.

Execution

Execution refers to how authentic, prudent, diplomatic and cost-efficient methods are used for planning the evaluation. Appropriate procedures are defined on the basis of anticipated benefits, i.e. the efficiency of the evaluation is determined on the basis of the ratio of costs and benefits.   

Evaluation of government policies

Evaluations of government policies seek answers to the following questions:

1) Need
The basic criterion for the evaluation of state policies relates to defining why state intervention is needed in the process targeted by the given policy, namely: what social, economic or political objective justifies the intervention, or what missing market process justifies the need for intervention. 

2) Relevance
•    Does the assessed government intervention target the defined problem, and does it contribute to reaching the goal that made the intervention necessary?  
•    Was the best instrument selected for reaching the governmental objective? What are the advantages to, drawbacks and limitations of the instrument selected, as well as impacts arising in other areas?
•    How sensitive is the selected intervention to changes to key factors?

3) Effectiveness
•    Does the government programme reach its goal?
•    Do results measured in the course of the assessment comply with our objectives?
•    How did the concerned individuals/entities behave pursuant to the impact of the intervention? Did they react the way it was originally anticipated (expected)?
•    How did the donor and the beneficiary react to unanticipated external impacts?
•    What key factors impact policy effectiveness most sensitively?

4) Efficiency
•    Are the benefits of the government intervention in harmony with the budget?
•    What will the connection be between resources used and operations and results reached?
•    How efficient is cooperation amongst partners?
•    What key factors impact the assurance of efficiency most sensitively?

5) Impact
•    What are the socio-economic impacts of the government programme?
•    What are, and what is the extent of unanticipated impacts?
•    Are there any undesirable side-effects of the state policy in other areas, sectors or social groups, which make further state intervention or compensation of losers necessary?  

6) Sustainability
•    To what extent did the beneficiaries use implementation results, and did this contribute to shifting the approach in any way?
•    Will the result of the intervention be sustained following the end of the funding period?
•    Will the institution (system) potentially set up in the course of the implementation of the intervention continue to operate?
•    It is possible to reconcile the long-term objectives of the donor and the beneficiary – relating to the intervention – on the long run?
•    What key factors impact the assurance of sustainability most sensitively?

The weight of the question under assessment varies according to the objective of the evaluations.

Analysis of strategies, i.e. so-called ex-ante evaluation, primarily implies the evaluation of needs and relevance, as well as the evaluation of anticipated impacts to a lesser extent.  
We need to assess all questions in the case of government interventions already implemented or to be implemented, which primarily implies performing interim or on-going evaluations by emphasising questions relating to relevance and impact to a greater degree.  
Ex-post evaluations must primarily focus on questions relating to efficiency and impact.