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Assessing International Evaluations: An Example from USAID’s Democracy and Governance Program


Bollen, Kenneth A.; Paxton, Pamela M.; & Morishima, Rumi (2005). Assessing International Evaluations: An Example from USAID's Democracy and Governance Program. American Journal of Evaluation, 26(2), 189-203.


Each year, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent in international and bilateral aid programs to assist developing countries in expanding democratic governance. Evaluating these efforts’ effectiveness is important given the vast needs of the client population. This article reviews a sample of evaluations of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) democracy and governance (DG) programming. The authors devise a standardized template to assess the quality of evaluations and find that the evaluations commissioned by USAID need major improvement. They find a lack of methodological accuracy and inadequate coverage of important information about the impact of assistance interventions. Given the importance of the substantive issue, high-quality evaluations are needed to provide reliable information for future programs and policies. The authors consider obstacles to obtaining high-quality international evaluations and provide recommendations for improvements. Although their focus is USAID’s DG programming, much of the authors’ discussion could apply to other assessments of international and domestic evaluations.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

American Journal of Evaluation


Bollen, Kenneth A.
Paxton, Pamela M.
Morishima, Rumi