for accomplishing this include scanning of relevant information sources and interaction with networks of key informants by knowledgeable program staff, consultation via advisory boards or study groups, and strategic planning studies.
As mentioned in the previous chapter, it may be problematic to combine the functions of setting priorities for program evaluation with those of reviewing proposals for evaluation of specific programs. Practitioner and policy maker perspectives are critical to setting priorities that advance practice and policy, but of limited value for assessing the quality of proposed evaluation research. Conversely, the current state of research evidence about criminal justice programs, especially emerging and innovative ideas, is relevant to strategic planning for evaluation but the perspective of researchers on what best serves practice and policy is generally limited.
Obtaining well-informed and thoughtful input from practitioners, policy makers, and researchers in their respective areas of expertise requires that an agency have ready access to quality consultants and reviewers. Moreover, those consultants and reviewers must be willing to serve on advisory boards, review panels, and the like. It follows that an agency that wishes to set effective priorities and sponsor high-quality program evaluation must include personnel who maintain networks of contacts with outside experts and attend to the incentives that encourage such persons to participate in the pertinent agency processes. Correspondingly, the relevant staff must be supported with opportunities for participation in conferences and similar events that allow personal interactions and monitoring of developments in the field. They must also have time within the scope of their official duties to monitor and assimilate information from the respective research, practitioner, and policy literatures.
Given well-developed priorities for evaluation, the functions related to developing and supporting quality evaluations include more than the ability to assemble and work with qualified review panels. As discussed in the previous chapter, formulation of an RFP that provides clear and detailed guidance for development of strong evaluation proposals, and the preliminary site visits, feasibility studies, or evaluability assessments that may be necessary to do that well can also be significant to the ultimate quality and successful implementation of impact evaluations. After an evaluation is commissioned, knowledgeable participation in the monitoring process is also an important function for the responsible agency personnel. In addition, such personnel may be expected to respond to questions from policy makers and practitioners about research evidence