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Foreign Assistance: Agencies Can Improve the Quality and Dissemination of Program Evaluations


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The U.S. government plans to spend approximately $35 billion on foreign assistance in 2017. Evaluation is an essential tool for U.S. agencies to assess and improve the results of their programs. Government-wide guidance emphasizes the importance of evaluation, and the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2016 requires the President to establish guidelines for conducting evaluations. However, evaluations can be challenging to conduct. GAO has previously reported on challenges in the design, implementation, and dissemination of the evaluations of individual foreign assistance programs. GAO was asked to review foreign aid evaluations across multiple agencies. This report examines the (1) quality, (2) cost, and (3) dissemination of foreign aid program evaluations. GAO assessed a representative sample of 173 fiscal year 2015 evaluations for programs at the six agencies providing the largest amounts of U.S. foreign aid - USAID, State, MCC, HHS's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service, and DOD's Global Train and Equip program - against leading evaluation quality criteria; analyzed cost and contract documents; and reviewed agency websites and dissemination procedures.



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