READING

Call for Proposals

Consultant Services on INfluencing Evaluation Policy

Deadline: November 15, 2012

The American Evaluation Association (AEA) is seeking a consultant to continue and expand efforts underway to influence evaluation policy.

The Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF) began its work to influence federal evaluation policy in 2007. To date, it has enhanced the association’s internal capacity to respond to policy shaping opportunities; developed collateral materials aimed at policy influence, in particular the Evaluation Roadmap for a More Effective Government; positioned the association as an expert resource within targeted areas of the federal government; and enjoyed some policy influencing success. Documentation of the EPTF’s work, as well as a range of supporting materials, may be found on the EPTF web page here http://www.eval.org/p/cm/ld/fid=129.

AEA is seeking a consultant to lead the next stage of the association’s policy shaping work. The details of the consultant’s scope of work may be found in the draft scope of work available here.

The ideal consultant would possess the following attributes:

  • Knowledge of the evaluation policymaking process, ideally at both the federal and state levels

  • Evidence of multiple connections with policymakers

  • Experience with government policy development

  • Experience with public presentations in legislative and regulatory contexts

  • Proven communications and organizational skills

  • Experience with the field of evaluation and the capacity to represent the field

  • Knowledge of the American Evaluation Association and the capacity to represent the association

  • Commitment to supporting the mission and goals of AEA

  • Ready accessibility to Washington, DC

Budget: AEA will pay the policy consultant up to $42,000 per year with the assumption of the equivalent of 1-2 days per week of work depending on the time of year and work underway and on the experience of the consultant. Given this level of financial investment, the association recognizes that the work of the consultant must be targeted and strategic and that influence across the breadth and depth of the government is not possible. At some times, there may be the need for rapid response and intense investment of time over several days in a week for several weeks, while at other times, the work may be only a couple of hours in a week when policy makers are on hiatus.

To Apply: Please send by November 15, 2012, the following to AEA Executive Director Susan Kistler, via a single email to susan@eval.org:

  • A statement of interest that includes a narrative addressing the attributes listed above
  • A resume
  • Up to three example work products to which you have substantially contributed and that illustrate your communications capacity and policy shaping work

Applicants will be reviewed by the EPTF and Executive Director, including interviews for final candidates. The EPTF and Executive Director will make a recommendation to the Board and the Board will ultimately choose the consultant to be hired.

Questions: Please direct questions about the work of the EPTF to EPTF Chair Patrick Grasso at pgrass45@comcast.net


Scope of Work

This Statement of Work describes the tasks that will be undertaken by an Evaluation Policy Consultant to assist the Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF) of the American Evaluation Association (AEA) in furthering an ongoing capability to influence evaluation policies that are critically important to the practice of evaluation. The following outlines the intended scope of the work.

  • Focus on Evaluation Policies. This effort should focus on evaluation policy, rather than policy in general. While evaluation can help inform substantive policies in a wide range of areas, and this is a recognized central purpose for much evaluation, influencing substantive policy is not the emphasis of this effort. Instead, this work should concentrate on evaluation policies. Examples of general areas of evaluation policy might include (although may not be limited to) policies regarding:

    • Evaluation definition. How, if at all, is evaluation defined in an agency or in legislation? In such contexts, how is evaluation formally distinguished from or related to other functions such as program planning, monitoring, performance measurement or implementation?
    • Requirements of evaluation. When are evaluations required? What programs or entities are required to have evaluations? How often are evaluations scheduled? What procedures are used to determine when or whether evaluation takes place?
    • Evaluation methods. What approaches or methods of evaluation are recommended or required by legislation or regulation, for what types of programs or initiatives?
    • Human resources regarding evaluation. What requirements exist for people who conduct evaluations? What types of training, experience or background are required?
    • Evaluation budgets. What are the standards for budgeting for evaluation work?
    • Evaluation implementation. What types of evaluation implementation issues are guided by policies? For instance, when are internal versus external evaluations required and how are these defined?
    • Evaluation ethics. What are the policies for addressing ethical issues in evaluation?
  • Focus on U.S. Federal (and possibly State) Evaluation Policy. Efforts currently focus on the federal level because evaluation policy decisions at that level have broad implications for many AEA members and for the field generally. That will remain the primary focus. However, it may be possible in the future to expand this effort to other arenas (state government, foundations, international, etc.).

  • Target Only a Few Specific Legislative and Executive Policies and on Selected Substantive Areas. Given resource constraints, it will be necessary to limit the effort to only a few evaluation policy formulation opportunities. For instance, we might annually identify one or two major pieces of legislation and one or two areas where administrative regulations are likely over the next few years. This work should focus its evaluation policy shaping activities in areas that are related to AEA’s history and current emphases.

  • Be Appropriately Opportunistic. Given the preceding thoughts about limiting the work, we recognize the value of remaining flexible and of responding (thoughtfully and selectively) as unexpected opportunities arise that might fall outside the stated initial scope. This effort should look to take advantage of such opportunities and should consult with the AEA Board as such arise.

  • Build on a Strong Foundation. The EPTF, and AEA’s past Policy Consultant, have been working to influence evaluation policy since 2007. Current efforts should build upon the foundational work undertaken to date. More information about the work thus far may be found online at http://www.eval.org/EPTF.asp.

Tasks and Responsibilities

The Evaluation Policy Consultant, directly advised by the Evaluation Policy Task Force and guided by the AEA Board of Directors, will address three primary parallel tasks. The first task will consist of a focused, targeted consultative campaign designed to identify and provide useful consultation to U.S. federal (and possibly state) legislators and executive branch staff on legislation and regulation concerning evaluation. The second and parallel task will be to enhance the public presence that AEA projects as an essential source of expertise on evaluation generally and evaluation policy specifically, in particular through the development of additional collateral materials that can be utilized in that campaign, and perhaps through other forms of outreach as well (e.g., website presence). The third and final task will be internal education of the membership about the import of evaluation policy issues, opportunities for them to take action, and the EPTF’s and consultant’s work.

The Evaluation Policy Consultant is responsible for implementing these three tasks. The Task Force will provide overall guidance on the tasks. Some Task Force members may be directly involved in assisting the consultant in implementation. The Board will approve policy statements that vary significantly from existing AEA policy guidance and ultimately the membership will approve policy statements that break new ground.

Consultative Campaign Task. The primary purpose of this task is to influence federal (and possibly state level) evaluation policy, in a manner consistent with the Mission of AEA and the Evaluation Roadmap for a More Effective Government, in select areas identified by the EPTF.

Specific sub-tasks that the Evaluation Policy Consultant will be responsible for working on include:

  • Taking the lead, under guidance of the EPTF, in developing the means for influencing evaluation policies, including: scanning and identifying prospective policy opportunities; managing networks of contacts; entering into and managing specific policy influence efforts; responding to requests for input on policy formulation; and monitoring policy influencing efforts.
  • Scanning federal legislative and regulatory opportunities for policies that could be targets for influence, and reporting on these to the Task Force.
  • Advising the Task Force on the selection of specific policy opportunities.
  • Identifying and coordinating with evaluators within the federal government who are connected to the specific evaluation policy contexts that are targeted by the Task Force.
  • Identifying and communicating with the Task Force on legal and ethical issues and concerns associated with efforts to influence evaluation policy.
  • Managing the emerging network of contacts in both the legislative and executive branch that can assist AEA in influencing evaluation policy.
  • Reporting regularly to the membership, Task Force, and Board, on the evaluation policy efforts and progress made.
  • Assisting the Task Force in preparing reports and recommendations to the Board on progress of the consultative campaign.

Because of the potentially broad nature of this work, the consultative campaign will be limited to only a few policy targets. The EPTF plays a major role in discussing and advising on what policies should be targeted in this effort. On the congressional/legislative side, the work of the consultant over the contract period will involve: identifying major areas of upcoming legislation and working with the EPTF to determine priorities for outreach; identifying congressional staff members who are critical to the legislation; developing contacts and building a network of personal relationships with staff members; conducting background research on evaluation policies that currently exist in the area or other relevant aligned areas; working with the Task Force to identify potential policies that would enhance evaluation; making contact with identified staff; and, assisting the Task Force to respond as needed to any requests for input on policy formulation (e.g., testifying at congressional hearings; drafting potential language for legislation, responding to requests for comment). On the executive side, the work will involve: identifying one or two major areas where evaluation policy is likely to be formulated within the next few years and working with the EPTF to determine priorities for outreach; determining who the major agencies and people are who will formulate the policies; determining how direct personal contact will be made with them; advising on the development of a network of personal relationships; conducting background research on existing relevant evaluation policies; and, consulting on potential policy changes or regulatory language. The Task Force will provide general guidance and advice on these activities, as well as vet both ideas and documents, while implementation will be handled primarily by the consultant.

Public Presence Task. The primary purpose of this task is to support the consultative campaign through efforts that help position AEA as the leading U.S. association in evaluation and through the development of additional collateral materials that represent AEA and can be utilized in discussions with policymakers. While the Task Force will be expected to advise and provide guidance on this effort, and may elect to assist in drafting materials that support it, primarily responsibility for drafting and revision will fall to the consultant. The consultant will be expected to engage in the following activities in connection with this task:

  • Expanding upon existing talking points and the Evaluation Roadmap for a More Effective Government, in order to remain current and to adapt to the varying contexts in which policy influence may be desired.
  • Responding to media inquiries within guidelines established by AEA.
  • Speaking before select external groups about the importance of evaluation and evaluation policy influence.

Internal Education Task. The primary purpose of this task is to ensure that the AEA membership is informed about evaluation policy and their possible role in policy influence. Working with the EPTF, the consultant will be expected to engage in the following activities in connection with this task:

  • Developing and implementing a plan for leveraging the collective wisdom and capacity of the AEA membership in influencing evaluation policy.
  • Authoring a monthly “Policy Watch” column for the AEA newsletter, notifying and engaging AEA members regarding important impending and implemented evaluation federal policy changes and initiatives.
  • Developing collateral material for use by AEA members in policy shaping within their spheres of influence.

The contract will be for a period from January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2015, with possible renewal in subsequent years.

The consultant is expected to be an integral part of the Evaluation Policy Task Force and will be expected to take part in their meetings (held approximately once every two months via conference call) and ongoing email exchange.

The consultant will report directly to the Executive Director of AEA and will submit all invoices for contracted work to the AEA office.

Deliverables

The Evaluation Policy Consultant will be responsible for providing the following deliverables to the Executive Director and the Chair of the EPTF:

  • Within three months of beginning and by each December 31 thereafter, a written work plan for the coming year, developed in consultation with the EPTF.
  • A brief quarterly summary of activities undertaken in pursuit of this contract.
  • A quarterly detailed record of any meetings held in connection with this contract, showing the dates, times, attendees, purpose and outcomes.
  • Monthly “Policy Watch” columns.
  • Formal comments and letters, and collateral materials as appropriate to the policy influencing foci chosen with the EPTF.
  • A written annual report to the Evaluation Policy Task Force that summarizes progress on evaluation policy efforts. This report must be supplied by December 31 of each year of the contract so that it can be integrated into the Task Force’s annual report to the AEA Board.

Over the course of the three year timeframe, the success of the EPTF and the consultant will be judged on: the extent of its influence on specific policies and policy language; the level and appropriateness of the activities; the quality and extent of use by the policy making communities and influencers of collateral policy influencing materials; and, the quality and potential value of the network developed that connects AEA, the consultant, and policymakers.