among country partners, including country-based implementing partners and partner country governments.
History and Evolution of PEPFAR-Supported Evaluation and Research
From its onset PEPFAR has included an emphasis on evidence-based programming, highlighting the need for evaluation and research in addition to program monitoring data to serve as evidence to inform efforts (OGAC, 2004). As a result, PEPFAR has actively supported some form of evaluation since its inception; however, program priorities and policy constraints on engaging in research limited the initial role of research within PEPFAR (OGAC, 2004, 2011b). As PEPFAR programs and priorities evolved from an emergency response toward a more sustainable response to the HIV epidemic, PEPFAR leadership increasingly recognized the importance of evaluation and research in capturing, utilizing, and maximizing knowledge created through PEPFAR as well as in ensuring contributions to the global knowledge base on effective HIV/AIDS interventions and program implementation5 (OGAC, 2009f; Padian et al., 2011). Subsequently, the role of evaluation and research within PEPFAR has expanded.
Both research and evaluation have important roles to play within PEPFAR and can contribute to implementing effective evidence-informed programs. Although research and evaluation use similar tools and methodologies and may draw from similar data sources, they have notably different aims, uses, and audiences (Fain, 2005; Levin-Rozalis, 2003; Small, 2012). The aims of research include adding new knowledge to a field, proving that a particular factor caused a particular effect, and producing results that are generalizable beyond an individual project or program (Fain, 2005; Levin-Rozalis, 2003; Small, 2012). In contrast to this, the purpose of evaluation is “not to prove, but to improve” (Stufflebeam, 2007, p. 2). Evaluation is specific to a particular project or program; it aims to produce outcomes used by decision makers to determine the best mechanisms to achieve program goals, assess program effectiveness, and assess whether goals are being met or not (Fain, 2005; GAO, 2011b; Levin-Rozalis, 2003). As the role of research in PEPFAR evolved, which is described in the following sections, defining appropriate and allowable research activities within PEPFAR was and remains a challenge, and there remain no clear distinctions between these separate but complementary aims of research and evaluation.
5 Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008, P.L. 110-293, 110th Cong., 2nd sess. (July 30, 2008).