Friday, February 03, 2006

Does anybody out there evaluate, any more!?

Does anyone evaluate their economic development programmes in England? Its something we used to do a hell of a lot in Scotland, and they were often quite serious and decent quality pieces of work.

Where I am working now in England does not seem to bother... and now Central government comes along and says - "show us your evalations!" and despite knowing that we are supposed to do this, we haven't been!!! oops.

And then there's the quality of evaluations. Some folks seem to think that they are reviews of success, doing a few focus groups and case studies. But oh no, they forgot to do it properly and their is no robust client survey, assessment of additionality, displacement, deadweight, gross impacts... and no estimation of the net impacts.

Funnily - people here think its impossible to do all this - well its not, its quite easy, and there's a whole bunch of consultants out there who are really good at this stuff - it used to be their bread and butter.

Now I think that this is down to the lack of a large, embedded base of economic development professionals in England. We do get private sector folks coming here - and I will be frank - they are good at some things, but quite woeful at others. They are particularly guilty of not making the effort to truly understand what economic development and regeneration is all about. And so they rush around suggesting actions which us public sector ED stakhanovites mutter "oh no you can't do that" - can't in the sense of its not legally permissable or conventionally appropriate. This is usually based on the fact that its been tried before and didn't work, or someone got into a lot of hot water on it. Anyhow there's quite a few people around where I work like this who are on the brink of really p*ssing me off.

Oh and a warning to all those with Objective 2/ESF projects out there - you are supposed to do an evaluation at the end! as a condition of the funding! and its also beneficial if you do a mid-term evaluation too. If you don't, hey, your in a bit of trouble because you will have budgeted for it.


Anonymous julian dobson said...

This is fascinating stuff. I'd like to use a version of it in New Start magazine ( Can you email me to discuss? I'm at

8:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have seen some radical and funky evaluation stuff recently from - they evaluate relative trends in business population change... It's the only thing I have seen recently that could offer any outcome based evaluation these types of programmes. I understand they did an Objective One evaluation on Merseyside that was the first instance of using benefiting companies as a control in a longitudinal model.

3:39 AM  

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