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23.06.2017 - Exciting discussions during Evaluation Week in Costa Rica – a review

Evaluation Week in Latin America took place on 5–9 June 2017. A total of 16 activities were on offer in Costa Rica, in which around 400 guests participated from the public sector, civil society, the academic community and the general public with an interest in the topic of evaluation. The FOCEVAL (Evaluation Capacity Development) project helped organise and implement a wide array of events in Costa Rica, including the following:


Workshop on using the findings of Costa Rica’s national evaluation agenda

Evaluation Week kicked off in Costa Rica on Monday, 5 June with a workshop organised by the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Policy (MIDEPLAN), supported by FOCEVAL. At the workshop, representatives of the management teams of 14 evaluations exchanged information on their experience of using evaluation and the challenges they faced.

Following presentations by FOCEVAL (on theoretical aspects of the benefits of evaluation) and MIDEPLAN (on how an action plan can help promote the use of evaluations), discussions were held with participants on their experience of using evaluations in which they had been or still are involved, the challenges faced and any unresolved issues in this context. The group felt that the greatest challenge was supporting participation by authorities and key individuals at all levels of the evaluation process. This was identified as a key lever for making greater use of evaluation findings. The importance of training and of using platforms such as Evaluation Week for exchange and discussion was also stressed, as were the stability of management teams and the contextualisation of the analysis conducted by the evaluators.

 

Panel discussion on evaluation as an instrument for public administration

On 7 June 2017, Professor Jörg Faust, Director of DEval, Dr Olga Marta Sanchez Oviedo, Costa Rica’s Minister of Planning, and Rafael Matamoros Fallas, representative of Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly, participated in a panel discussion in San José moderated by Erwin Geuder-Jilg, FOCEVAL team leader.

The event started with a presentation by Rafael Matamoros on evaluation in the context of the Legislative Assembly. FOCEVAL supports the exchange of experience between the parliaments of Costa Rica, Chile and Honduras. One challenge that Costa Rica continues to face is identifying the most suitable methods, structures and processes for the introduction of evaluations by the Legislative Assembly. In his presentation, Professor Jörg Faust emphasised the use of evaluations. Here, training evaluators in applying standards is crucial, as is training public institutions and raising their awareness. Dr Olga Sánchez described the importance of evaluation in decision-making in Costa Rica’s public administration. She stressed the key role that cooperation with FOCEVAL plays in bringing together actors, building capacities and institutionalising evaluation as an instrument for public administration. Strengthening the national evaluation system and evaluation culture and applying recommendations are tasks that still need to be addressed at national level.

 

Forum on evaluation as an instrument for strengthening governance – raising the awareness of Costa Rica’s presidential candidates

The final event of Latin America Evaluation Week in Costa Rica took place on Friday, 9 June in the auditorium of the Central America Human Rights Research and Promotion Centre (CIPAC). It was organised by two faculties of the University of Costa Rica, with support from FOCEVAL. The presidential candidate of the Broad Front (Frente Amplio) party, Edgardo Araya, of the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC), Rodolfo Hernández, and of the National Liberation Party (PLN), Kevin Casas, presented their suggestions and positions in relation to evaluation within the context of governance. The importance of decision-makers taking evaluation findings seriously was stressed, as was the key role evaluation plays in creating transparency and accountability and in improving living conditions. The speakers emphasised the importance of stepping up the involvement of civil society in the evaluation of public services, adding that evaluation findings needed to be incorporated into budgetary decisions to a greater degree. During the discussion, it became clear that the presidential candidates were not familiar with the national evaluation agenda, which indicated the need to raise the awareness of these candidates and of other key actors in relation to ‘real-life’ evaluation in Costa Rica.

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