Interaction Between Evaluation Offices and Governing Bodies: A Comparative Study

Prepared for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Office of Monitoring and Evaluation, the overarching finding of the study is that when evaluation units begin to report directly to the boards rather than to or through management, the profile and the role of the evaluation function in the organization increases. Boards begin to take greater interest in evaluations as a tool to improve oversight processes of the institution, as well as to enhance their own, and management performance and accountability. While such independent reporting to the boards is necessary, it is not sufficient. The formation of an evaluation committee to which the evaluation unit reports increases the quantity and the quality of the interactions between evaluation departments and boards and legitimizes the evaluation function of the board. The selected members who form the committee increase their understanding of the evaluation issues as they pertain to the strategic management and performance of the organization. By legitimizing the evaluation function, the explicit responsibility and accountability of the evaluation committee to the board thus increases impacts of evaluation units on board strategies and on management practices.

Two caveats are needed to substantiate this finding. First, the establishment of strong monitoring and self evaluation systems is a necessary foundation for independent evaluations to serve the learning function and create an evaluation culture in the organization. This finding suggests that whereas GEF would be well served by having an evaluation committee of the Council, there may be implications for GEF management regarding supervision, monitoring and self evaluation functions, and processes, as well as their relationship to the independent evaluation function. Second, the terms of reference of the evaluation unit determines the extent to which it can evaluate "out of the box" strategic issues facing the organization. Strengthening the evaluation function may not achieve the second objective without the necessary mandate to the evaluation units. These issues may well need to be explored further to draw lessons and implications for the GEF.