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Committee on Evaluation of USAID Democracy Assistance Programs Development, Security, and Cooperation Policy and Global Affairs
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESSâ 500 Fifth Street, N.W.â Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by Contract No. DFD-C-00-06-00091-0 between the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that pro- vided support for the project. International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-11736-4 International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-11736-4 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2008 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America
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Committee on the Evaluation of USAID Democracy Assistance Programs Jack A. Goldstone (Chair), George Mason University, Fairfax, VA Larry Garber, New Israel Fund, Washington, DC John Gerring, Boston University, Boston, MA Clark C. Gibson, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA Mitchell A. Seligson, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN Jeremy Weinstein, Stanford University, Stanford, CA Staff Jo L. Husbands, Senior Project Director Paul Stern, Board Director Tabitha Benney, Senior Program Associate* Rita Guenther, Senior Program Associate â *Until August 2007.
Preface Since September 11, 2001, the Bush administration has made sup- port for democracy one of the major pillars of U.S. security policy. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has been providing democracy assistance to countries around the world for over 25 years and has invested substantially in a variety of programs in diverse politi- cal situations. To better understand the impact of its democracy assis- tance efforts, the agency launched the Strategic and Operational Research Agenda (SORA). As part of SORAâs work, USAID asked the National Research Council to prepare a report on how best to evaluate USAID democracy and governance (DG) programs. The National Academies appointed an ad hoc committee to work on this report, including scholars with long experience and varied method- ological approaches to the study of democracy and democratization, and a former USAID mission director with field experience in implementing DG programs. I extend my deepest personal thanks to each of them for their many intellectual contributions to the committeeâs work and for the time and effort they gave to the report. It was a pleasure to work with such outstanding colleagues. To fulfill the mission given to the Academies, additional scholars were called on to help the committee examine key methodological issues in evaluating the impact of DG assistance. The committeeâs deliberations with these scholars included a conference in Boston, Massachusetts, on issues in measuring democracy and a conference in Stanford, California, on how case studies of democratization and democracy assistance could vii
viii PREFACE inform DG programming. The committee also contracted with several expert consultants in the design and implementation of program evalu- ations, from both the academic and policy implementation spheres, to visit several USAID missions to examine the feasibility and scope for developing impact evaluations of DG projects in the field. The committee owes great thanks to these scholars for their contributions to this report. (A full listing of participants and consultants is given in Appendixes B through E.) The committee spent many sessions discussing evaluation proce- dures with representatives of USAID and former and current contractors for the agencyâs DG programs. The committee is grateful to USAID for providing the time and assistance to set up these meetings and for their willingness to work through ideas and opportunities with the committee. In particular, the committee thanks three USAID officials who were the primary contacts throughout the project and whose support and advice were critical to the success of the committeeâs work: Margaret Sarles, chief of the Strategic Planning and Research Division, and two members of the SORA staffâDavid Black, who served as project officer, and Mark Billera. David and Mark also accompanied the committeeâs teams on their field visits. The goal was not merely to recommend abstract âivory towerâ ideas regarding project evaluations but to learn from USAID and provide recommendations that would be feasible in the field and useful on a vari- ety of levels for USAID planning and program implementation. The committee particularly wants to thank the USAID missions in Albania, Peru, and Uganda, who hosted committee members, staff, and consultants, and the USAID Washington officers who helped arrange those visits. The field visits were invaluable in determining how actual DG programs were being evaluated and learning how USAID staff and consultants could develop different evaluation designs for current and forthcoming USAID programs. The committee also thanks the members of the National Research Council staff who provided substantive and administrative support for the project. Jo Husbands served as project director and helped guide the committee through dozens of meetings, lengthy deliberations, and the administrative hurdles of carrying out the committeeâs ambitious goals. She also made substantial contributions to the many drafts of the report. Paul Stern offered sage advice throughout the process, par- ticularly on methodological and measurement issues. Rita Guenther and Tabitha Benney provided research and administrative support, along with immense energy and good cheer. Rita also took the lead in drafting the report summarizing the three field visits and drafted several sections of the report. Three of them also took part in the field visitsâJo in Albania and Uganda, Rita in Albania and Peru, and Tabitha in Peru.
PREFACE ix At a time when democracy assistance is becoming ever more impor- tant as part of international and U.S. policies to assist developing nations, build peace, and reduce conflict, the committee hopes this report can serve as a practical guide for policymakers and USAID mission staff. Foreign assistance donors and aid organizations in a variety of areas are demanding better proof of results and more certain knowledge on which to build future assistance programs. The committee provides rec- ommendations on how USAID can design its activities to gain greater knowledge of which DG projects are most effective in the field and how to use that knowledgeâdrawing on both internal experience and outside expertiseâto guide and improve future democracy assistance. It is hoped that the recommendations in this report will lead to not only more effec- tive programs to assist the emergence and stabilization of democracies but also the adoption of evaluation methods that will improve aid effective- ness throughout the domain of U.S. foreign assistance. Jack A. Goldstone Chair
Acknowledgments This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Councilâs Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its pub- lished report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Kenneth Bollen, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Valerie Bunce, Cornell University; Susan Hyde, Yale University; Robert Keohane, Princeton Uni- versity; David Laitin, Stanford University; Carol Lancaster, Georgetown University; Ruth Levine, Center for Global Development; Michael Lund, Management Systems International; Gerald Munck, University of South- ern California; Barbara Torrey, Population Reference Bureau, Inc.; and Nicholas van de Walle, Cornell University. Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclu- sions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Charles Tilly, Columbia University, and Enriqueta C. Bond, Burroughs Wellcome Fund. Appointed by the National Research Council, they were respon- xi
xii ACKNOWLEDGMENTS sible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
Contents Summary 1 1 Democracy Assistance and USAID 17 U.S. Democracy Assistance: A Brief Introduction, 17 Democratic Development and Democracy Assistance: What Do We Know?, 23 USAIDâs Request to the National Research Council, 27 Report Overview, 32 References, 38 2 Evaluation in USAID DG Programs: Current Practices and Problems 43 Introduction, 43 Current Evaluation Practices in Development Assistance: General Observations, 44 Current Policy and Legal Framework for USAID DG Assessments and Evaluations, 53 Three Key Problems with Current USAID Monitoring and Evaluation Practices, 58 Conclusions, 66 References, 67 3 Measuring Democracy 71 Introduction, 71 xiii
xiv CONTENTS Problems with Extant Indicators, 73 A Disaggregated Approach to Measurement at the Country Level, 83 Conclusions, 94 References, 95 4 Learning from the Past: Using Case Studies of Democratic Transitions to Inform Democracy Assistance 99 Introduction, 99 Case Study Designs and Methods, 100 Insights from Current Research: Results of a Conference of Case Study Specialists on Democracy, 102 A Multicase Study Design to Generate and Investigate Strategic Hypotheses Regarding Democracy Assistance, 112 Conclusions, 116 References, 117 5 Methodologies of Impact Evaluation 119 Introduction, 119 Importance of Sound and Credible Impact Evaluations for DG Assistance, 120 Plan of This Chapter, 124 Points of Clarification, 124 Internal Validity, External Validity, and Building Knowledge, 127 A Typology of Impact Evaluation Designs, 132 Examples of the Use of Randomized Evaluations in Impact Evaluations of Development Assistance (Including DG Projects), 144 References, 148 6 Implementing Impact Evaluations in the Field 151 Introduction, 151 Field Visits to USAID Missions, 152 Employing Randomized Impact Evaluations for USAID DG Projects in the Field, 154 Challenges in Applying Randomized Evaluation to DG Programs, 168 Conclusions, 175 References, 176
CONTENTS xv 7 Additional Impact Evaluation Designs and Essential Tools for Better Project Evaluations 177 Introduction, 177 How Often Are Randomized Evaluations Feasible?, 178 Designing Impact Evaluations When Randomization Is Not Possible, 181 What to Do When There Is Only One Unit of Analysis, 192 Conclusions, 196 References, 197 8 Creating the Conditions for Conducting High-Quality Evaluations of Democracy Assistance Programs and Enhancing Organizational Learning 199 Introduction, 199 Issues in Obtaining High-Quality Impact Evaluations, 199 Improving Organizational Learning, 208 Conclusions, 216 References, 217 9 An Evaluation Initiative to Support Learning the Impact of USAIDâs DG Programs 219 Introduction, 219 Providing Leadership and Strategic Vision, 220 Implementing the Vision: The Evaluation Initiative, 222 Agenda for USAID and SORA, 228 Role of Congress and The Executive Branch, 230 Conclusions, 232 References, 232 Glossary 235 Appendixes A Biographical Sketches of Committee Members 243 B Committee Meetings and Participants 247 C Measuring Democracy 259 D Understanding Democratic Transitions and Consolidation from Case Studies: Lessons for Democracy Assistance 285 E Field Visit Summary Report 289 F Voices from the Field: Model Questionnaire 315