Chapter 6: What resources do I need to conduct an evaluation?
How much will an evaluation cost and how long will it take?
Well, it varies depending on the type of evaluation you need to do. The following two fictitious examples will give you some idea of each end of the typical range but most evaluations seem to fall somewhere in the middle of the two examples.
For example, say policy team X wanted to know if a project they had rolled out was working as intended or if it could be improved, so they commissioned a research organisation to analyse the basic user data collected by front-line staff, speak to project practitioners and some service users. This took two months to procure, the study ran for three months and could cost up to £20,000.
At the other end of the scale, policy team Y wanted to know if a national policy was working. This involved interviews with members of the public and people who were affected by the policy. The contractors also conducted a comparative experimental study using a control group. Because this method involved negotiating access to the public, and people affected by the policy - some of who may have been in difficult situations - these elements were complicated to set up and required specialist skills so the study took 18 months at a cost of over £100,000.
Dealing with limited time and money
There are other ways to evaluate policy performance if it makes sense for your particular policy. As we already mentioned, existing datasets such as administrative data or survey data could be the answer. If there is no existing data available, and your policy has national coverage, you could also pay for questions to be included in Omnibus or Panel surveys. This can give you a national 'snapshot' of public views or behaviours at different points in time (e.g. before the policy and sometime after roll-out) which might be more practical if you need a quick answer on how a national policy is performing.
Top Tip: Check legislation or funding requirements early on
Sometimes legislation or funding agreements might specify who has to do the evaluation, for example if it is required to be an external body in order to guarantee impartiality. Make sure you check this before you start discussing options with your analyst.
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