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Eval Program Plann. 2007 Aug;30(3):231-6. Epub 2007 May 6.

Building evaluation capacity: definitional and practical implications from an Australian case study.

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Centre for Health, Policy, Programs and Economics, School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourn, Vic. 3010, Australia.


Internationally, evaluation capacity-building activities have mushroomed as demands have increased for government-funded programs to demonstrate that they are effective and efficient. Despite this, there is a lack of clarity in the way in which evaluation capacity-building is defined and conceptualized. The current paper presents a case study of a national evaluation capacity building exercise that we are in the midst of conducting in Australia, and discusses the findings in relation to definitional, conceptual and practical issues. Specifically, we describe an evaluation capacity building exercise involving over 100 mental health projects, detailing the methods that we employ, some of the challenges that we have faced, and the benefits we feel we are achieving. Our key message is that definitions of evaluation capacity-building should not only make reference to equipping organizations to routinely conduct evaluations, but should also stress the varied uses to which evaluation findings can be put. In addition, such definitions should acknowledge some of the valuable by-products of evaluation capacity building activities, such as the development of shared understandings of the program or project being evaluated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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