NOAA’s Evaluation Framework

2012 EEN Forum

Led by Ken Stricklett

Presentation of a summary of recent self-assessment conducted in NOAA concerning evaluation and performance assessment following to memorandums from OMB that have raised some awareness around evaluation, and have lead NOAA to wonder whether their programs have been effective. Looking at the paradigms of performance management and organizational learning to assess real project toward strategic goals. Of NOAA’s SEE Process, Ken believes that the evaluations step has been the least developed. However, there have been many program evaluations drivers on the legislative, executive, and internal levels. NOAA has since looked at guidance coming out of the private sector, including program evaluation best practices. NOAA then took an internal look in order to determine goals and the methods to achieve such goals. Presentation of NOAA’s current State program evaluation activities, including various education activities in response to legislative mandates and expectations. Ken acknowledges that there were areas, however, that could use improvements, and that as a response, various groups provided guidelines and a framework for NOAA to follow.

Ken outlines NOAA’s program evaluation frameworks, as well as the various evaluation committees to provide information and recommendations surrounding various areas that could use improvement. Out of the various themes generated from internal review, NOAA came up with some near-term objectives, such as establishing an Evaluation Committee as well as establishing policies, standards, and procedures for evaluation. Overall, NOAA is looking to widely expand its program evaluations processes by doing things such as establishing “working groups” that focus on Training and Capacity Building, Evaluation Guidance and Policy, Progress to Plan Assessment, etc.

Audience members questioned the various legislative expectations and drivers of NOAA’s evaluations frameworks. Ken clarified that because NOAA is a division of the Department of Commerce, it has to follow a different set of demands. Clarification was asked for regarding the overall structure of NOAA in order to gain further understanding of the evaluations framework and reporting processes. The audience member then reported how at the EPA, there are difficulties regarding where evaluations are reported to and how it is interesting to see when evaluations fall between budget offices and policy offices. Numerous audience members contributed that evaluation becomes about reporting numbers, and that it is treated as a “step child.” However there must be a variety of system adjustments in order to incorporate evaluation in an organization in a more thorough and straightforward way.

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