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Practical Handbook for Ongoing Evaluation

1. Introduction

1.1. Aim of the practical handbook

With this handbook INTERACT   aims to give practical support on ongoing evaluation in 2007-2013 European Funds financed programmes to the European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) programmes, IPA CBC (Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance – Cross-Border Cooperation) programmes and ENPI CBC (European Neighbourhood Programmes Initiative) programmes. There are several evaluation guides available (see Annex 5) but none of them is focussed on Territorial Cooperation programmes. This practical handbook indicates how ongoing evaluation can be performed for Territorial Cooperation programmes. It describes the basics of ongoing evaluation and follows the evaluation process step by step.

Furthermore, the ongoing evaluation of EU-financed programmes has changed. For the 2007-2013 programmes there is considerable flexibility as regards the timing, design and contents of the evaluation. This means that there is a new evaluation culture which demands a more pro-active approach from programmes. Each programme can decide for itself when, how, and what to evaluate. Evaluation provides an opportunity to assess the performance of the programme and to improve it. Evaluation also provides arguments for future decisions on the focus or implementation of the programme.

The handbook is not meant as an exhaustive list of arrangements to be fulfilled by European Territorial Cooperation programmes for a successful evaluation exercise. The programmes have to interpret this handbook based on the specific characteristics of their programme area, the programme structure, stakeholders, objectives, etc. in order to define the evaluation questions and process that suit them best. The practical handbook contains suggestions which are not necessarily exhaustive, nor do they provide assurance that the evaluation exercise will be successful. Nonetheless, they might be helpful in providing inspiration for European Territorial Cooperation programmes, as well as contributing to the success of the evaluation exercise and of the Territorial Cooperation programme as a whole.

1.2. Structure of the practical handbook

The diagram below provides an overview of the handbook. The handbook consists of 'basic' parts which explain the basics of evaluation and who to involve. Furthermore, the structure of the handbook follows the logic of the evaluation process. It starts with how to start an evaluation, and goes on to discuss how to develop an Evaluation Plan and Terms of Reference, how to choose a specific type of evaluation, how to develop the budget and use indicators, how to ensure an evaluation of good quality and finally, how to ensure good follow-up of the evaluation. To ensure that the handbook is practical, several tools and examples are included.

Diagram showing the structure of this practical handbook

Source: INTERACT


Firstly, the 'basic elements' are explained that are needed in order to understand the evaluation process:
2. What is ongoing evaluation ?
3.Who should be involved in evaluation ?


Secondly, the steps of the evaluation process are described in detail:
4. How to start the evaluation process ?
5. How to develop an Evaluation Plan ?
6. How to develop Terms of Reference ?
7. What type of evaluation (thematic, cross-programme, operational evaluation)?
8. How to establish a good budget ?
9. How to ensure evaluation of good quality ?
10. How to ensure follow-up of the evaluation ?
11. How to link programme and project evaluation ?

Thirdly, useful background information is included:
A1. Glossary
A2. Articles on evaluation from Council Regulations 1083/2006 and 1085/2006
A3. Brief explanation of ex ante and ex post evaluation
A4. Members of the Evaluation Laboratory Group and pilots
A5. References and useful website links
A6. Examples of Evaluation Plans, Terms of References, etc. from programmes

In each part the following elements are described:
1. What are the minimum requirements on the subject from the European Commission?
2. What approach does INTERACT suggest?
3. Practical tips & hints
4. What tools can be used?

1.3. The development of the handbook

The handbook has been drafted for the benefit of the European Territorial Cooperation programmes and with their support. Based on needs expressed by the European Territorial Cooperation programme managers, INTERACT set up a Laboratory Group on Evaluation in January 2009. The Laboratory Group's aim was to involve the main target group – representatives of the programmes - to foster the emergence of useful approaches and to contribute to tool development in the field of evaluation. The Group was composed of representatives from several Territorial Cooperation programmes, the European Commission, external experts and INTERACT, with relevant expertise on European Territorial Cooperation-INTERREG evaluation (see Annex 4 ).

The Laboratory Group has accompanied the development of this handbook since the very beginning, and it would have not been possible without their precious support. In particular, the Laboratory Group discussed what kind of tools and approaches were required and fed these needs into the actual handbook development process, which was entrusted to experienced external experts. Draft texts were thereafter forwarded to several pilot groups for their feedback and amended versions were once again screened by the Laboratory Group.

The texts were prepared by an external expert, Marie-Jose Zondag (ECORYS), who was contracted by INTERACT Point Vienna. Daniela Minichberger from INTERACT Point Vienna was the coordinator of the handbook. The online [www.interact-eu.net] and pdf versions are identical.

1.4. Suggestions or questions?

Your suggestions on how to improve or add to the handbook are very welcome. Please contact INTERACT with those, as well as with any questions or enquiries: Daniela Minichberger: firstname.secondname@interact-eu.net.

Updated version: January 2012


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