tive in defining the evaluation focus, the sponsoring agency and personnel must have the capacity to engage in thoughtful planning prior to commissioning the evaluation. That, in turn, may require some preliminary investigation of the program circumstances, the policy context, feasibility, and the like. When a programmatic approach to evaluation is needed, the planning process must take a correspondingly long-term perspective, with associated implications for continuity from one fiscal year to the next.
Agencies’ capabilities to engage in focused evaluation planning and develop well-specified evaluation plans will depend on their ability to develop expertise and sources of information that support that process. This may involve use of outside expertise for advice, including researchers, practitioners, and policy makers. It may also require the capability to conduct or commission preliminary studies to provide input to the process. Such studies might include surveys of programs and policy makers to identify issues and potential sites, feasibility studies to determine if it is likely that certain questions can be answered, and evaluability assessments that examine the readiness and appropriateness of evaluation for candidate programs.