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ANU Crawford School of Public Policy

Getting value for money from external evaluations

One-day short course


13th May 2015


ANU Crawford School of Public Policy


Darren Benham



Each year, government organisations in Australia spend millions on external evaluations. In this new course at The Australian National University’s Crawford School of Public Policy you will learn the key issues in commissioning and managing external evaluations in the public sector. You will discover how to develop detailed proposals and successfully manage suppliers.

Course overview

Each year, government organisations in Australia spend millions on external evaluations. Faced with shrinking budgets, there is increasing pressure on program managers and policymakers to demonstrate value for money by ensuring that external evaluations are high quality, policy-relevant and cost effective and that the process of commissioning is fair and transparent.

While many government organisations have their own procurement policies and procedures which are designed to maximise public accountability and transparency, getting value for money from external evaluations requires managers to achieve a difficult balance between factors such as budget and the time available, depth of analysis required, policy and program translatability and risks.

In this course, participants will be taken systematically through the process of commissioning external evaluations in the public sector. Key elements covered in the course include:

• Writing the Request for Proposal – telling suppliers what the commissioning organisation wants and needs out of the proposed evaluation.

• Assessing proposals – developing assessment criteria and using internal versus external assessors.

• Agreeing on the scope of work – reaching agreement on the How? (e.g. methods of analysis, data sources), What? (e.g. products, analytical outputs) and When (e.g. timeframes and deadlines).

• Establishing the rules of engagement – reaching agreement on the contract terms and conditions; payments, incentives and penalties; and setting performance expectations and standards.

• Managing and communicating with external suppliers – the importance of dialogue between commissioning organisations and suppliers.

Drawing on examples from public sector organisations, course participants will be given an understanding of the key issues and considerations in relation to commissioning and managing external evaluations. By the end of the course, participants will be able to develop a detailed Request for Proposal, develop criteria for assessing proposals and practical processes for successfully managing suppliers.

Course convenor


Dr Darren Benham

Dr Darren Benham is a health adviser and epidemiologist who specialises in program evaluation, outcome monitoring and performance assessment in the health sector. Darren has worked in a number of government organisations and understands the information needs of policymakers. His work requires him to communicate research findings to policymakers and shape messages specifically for policy-oriented audiences. Darren also works for the Menzies School of Health Research where he teaches epidemiology and supervises public health students.

Course date: 9.30am–4.30pm 13 May 2015
Venue: #132 Crawford Building, Lennox Crossing, ANU
Cost: $1,100 GST incl; Group discounts applicable

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