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  • Planning ahead: Key to a successful impact evaluation



    By Maria Amelia Gibbons* and Xia Li**

    TORS for an impact evaluation

    An impact evaluation should be considered an “operation within an operation” and requires adequate funding, appropriate staff, and sufficient technical support.  You will likely need to identify and contract service providers. It is very important in terms of cost- and time-efficiency to have carefully established the roles and responsibilities, activities, products, and schedules of the parties involved in an impact evaluation.

    Terms of Reference (TORs) will help you specify  the roles and responsibilities of the members of the impact evaluation team. You can use a comprehensive TOR for a single service provider, or issue separate TORs for each party involved, including the data collection, the principle investigator, technical support and supervision.

    A complete TOR should include the following key information:

    • Program background –  A brief description of the program
    • Objectives – Why this consultancy
    • Activities and responsibilities – Detailed activities for this consultancy, stating clearly who is in charge
    • Products – What products should be delivered
    • Schedule of activities  – State in detail the expected dates for delivery of products
    • Consultancy characteristics – Profile and level of experience of the service provider and location of work
    • Payment schedule – How much parties will be paid and when  payment requests will be processed
    • Coordination – Who is in charge of coordinating the delivery of the products

    For large contracts such as data collection you may need to call for Expression of interest as part of the procurement process. Then, update these TOR templates to meet the needs of your particular program/evaluation. Download and use the materials available at the IDB’s Evaluation Hub and make your impact evaluations more efficient!


    *Maria Amelia is a consultant at the Office of Strategic Planning and Development Effectiveness (SPD) at the IDB. Master in Economics (Universidad de San Andrés), Licentiate in Economics (Universidad de San Andrés). Previous to IDB, she was Teaching Assistant in Economics at Universidad de San Andrés where she taught Regulatory Economics and Econometrics. She was Research Assistant for academic and professional projects. Her professional experience includes consultancy work for organizations in Argentina and Panama. Her interests focus on the intersection between development economics and public policy, using econometrics as the main tool for analysis.

    **Xia Li is a consultant at the Office of Strategic Planning and Development Effectiveness (SPD). Prior to joining SPD, she worked with the Education Division and the International Monetary Fund. Xia obtained her bachelor degrees in Finance and Statistics at Peking University in China, and Ph.D. in Economics at Georgetown University. Her research interest includes microeconometrics, applied microeconomics and industrial organization.

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