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Program Evaluation

NCJ Number
D Cambell
Date Published
0 pages
Innovative organizational mechanisms are needed to perform meaningful programs evaluations in today's political climate.
To improve the honesty of program evaluations, evaluators should start the assessment process only when program administrators have decided that they have debugged their programs and have achieved a good program that they view with pride. This will reduce the antagonism between evaluators and program implementers and result in a better evaluation. Evaluators should delay their work especially with programs having a continual influx of new clients into the system (i.e., parole programs) and with regional programs. Internal, in-house evaluations can achieve objectivity; staff can be trusted to evaluate their own programs. Evaluators must take into account the local picture when assessing programs and should interpret each local evaluation on its own by collecting comparable data. Moreover, tying evaluation outcomes to project renewal/budget approvals causes staff to produce ambiguous findings and often results in a worthless evaluation. Evaluators should instead focus on procedural alternatives, emphasizing that even failing programs will be renewed if they adopt suggested alternative procedures. Every evaluation for government purposes should provide the sponsor with the final report and a copy of the raw data and the codebook used. These data can then be reanalyzed by other evaluators, resulting in a less biased evaluation. Everyone should be able to obtain study data and should be urged to report data faking. Because some governmental indicators (i.e., the cost of living index) are subject to bias, evaluators need to rely more heavily on quantitative social indicators or use indicators that will stand up to pressure once institutionalized.