DFID launched a new Research Strategy in April 2008, which will programme £1 billion over five years, 2008-2013. The Research Strategy will focus on six themes: growth; sustainable agriculture, particularly in Africa; climate change; health; governance in challenging environments; and future challenges and opportunities. There will also be a strong communications section, to ensure that research results are widely disseminated, to a broad set of potential stakeholders and beneficiaries, using the most appropriate channels.
The task was to develop a monitoring and evaluation framework which will allow DFID’s Policy and Research Division to answer the question in five year’s time whether the money was spend appropriately and whether the strategic objectives were met over and above the impact of individual programmes themes.
The consultants started by developing “generic” indicators for the three “strategic results areas”, which are labelled for simplicity as “Policy, Technology and Capacity”.
During discussions with staff in December 2008, agreement was reached on 13-14 indicators. After further work by the consultants these have been reduced to 10, plus a cross-cutting process indicator.
The consultants also suggested that the most direct way of obtaining indicators of the achievement of the Research Strategy at the high level of the Four Results Areas would be through a series of end-user surveys. Modern electronics and the internet massively reduce the costs of such surveys and the analysis of their results. Highly targeted electronic surveys would not only provide its own baseline, but it would also provide monitoring guidance (are we on the right track, what do need to do to improve our target). However, DFID research staff felt this would be too costly and risky.