Policy evaluation can be better defined as a process by which general judgments about quality, goal attainment, program effectiveness, impact, and costs can be determined. It is an assessment of whether a set of activities implemented under a specific policy has achieved a given set of objectives.
Once public policy has been operationalized through the formal adoption of laws, rules, or regulations, and the bureaucracy has taken action to implement the policy, some form of evaluation needs to be accomplished to determine if the policy has achieved the desired outcome or impact. Public policy represents the expenditure of limited public resources and or restrictions on certain types of ...view middle of the document...
Favorable evaluations of the impact of a given policy will tend to perpetuate the implementation and life-cycle while unfavorable evaluations may give rise to change or possibly policy termination.
Depending on the taste of any interest group or policy actor, the perception of how well a policy or program is performing or being implemented can have far-reaching impact.
The retrospective analysis of any public policy or government action is bounded by a number of real-world constraints, such as time, budget, ethical considerations, and policy restrictions as well as political ideologies, values, experiences, measurement instruments, goal clarity, and institutional biases. The key to understanding and interpreting the results of any policy evaluation is that some degree of bias is inherent in the process. However, this shortcoming should not prevent efforts to produce fair and unbiased policy evaluation products, at least as much as possible. The objective of policy evaluation is to discover policy flaws and to attempt to correct them given the entire limitations incumbent in the policy process. In its simplest form, evaluating a public program involves cataloging the goals of the program, measuring the degree to which the goals have been achieved, and, perhaps, suggesting changes that might bring the performance of the organization more in line with the stated purposes of the program.
Most models of policy evaluation ground their analytical perspective in the logical process used to determine the discrepancy between what was conceptualized by the initial policy goals and what has actually been accomplished by the policy or program as implemented. However, many other models focus their analysis on different objectives such as what is the true purpose of the evaluation, what is the role of the evaluator in the process, how broad or narrow should the scope of the evaluation be, and finally how should the evaluation be organized and conducted, for example what measurement instruments should be employed to determine success or failure. Four generic types of the most commonly used policy evaluation models were identified and they are: process evaluation, outcome evaluation, impact evaluation, and cost-benefit analysis.
Process evaluation as in its name implies this type of evaluation analyzes how well a policy or program is being administered. This type of evaluation is employed more often by program managers to determine what can be done to improve the implementation, the aspects of service delivery, of the program. It does not directly address whether or not the policy or program is achieving the desired outcome or impact on the target population.
Whereas outcomes are normally considered to be the impact that a policy has on a target population, for example, did the policy produce the desired behavioral change initially sought.
In this case, the outcome evaluation is concerned with outputs. For example, if the stated goal of a welfare...