In addition to the evaluation workshop that Fazia was referring to in her blog, a second event was taking place last week Chile.
The panel included Ignacio Irarrázabal, who is the director of the Public Policy Center at the Universidad Católica, who moderated, Heidi Brenner, a Professor at the Universidad de Chile and former head of management control at the Chilean`s government budget office and Jorge Marshall, Head of economics at the Universidad Andrés Bello.
Ignacio ably led the debate, inviting us to answer a good set of questions, all of them geared to air ideas on a proposition that is at the center of the Chilean public policy debate: should Chile create an independent evaluation agency, as stated in both former president Bachelet’s and current president Piñera policy programs. Ignacio asked the panel to search the keys to this debate and push forward the debate on this proposal, which is being supported by an IDB technical assistance.
I want to highlight five ideas on which, if I am not wrong, we all agreed on:
1. Any institutionalization formula requires not only that evaluations are rigorous, but also that the evaluations and the information they contain, do influence decision makers and improve public policy.
2. Evaluation, whether ex-ante or ex-post, has to be institutionalized within a policy continuum, where all actors have a role, from top government, to budget and sector authorities, the legislature and public agency managers.
3. The central agency has a critical role leading comprehensive, systematic and rigorous policy evaluations in order to be able to compare results with counterfactuals and to be accountable to the public at large.
4. This agency has to be credible, be independent from policy makers, publicize its work, and bring in the academic community to its work and to (in)validate its recommendations, under competitive and meritocratic criteria. The CONEVAL in Mexico was cited as a very valuable example.
5. In the Chilean case, where evaluation has gone hand in hand with the budgetary process, it is advisable to amplify its scope, both up wards, in a more strategic policy dimension, and downwards towards public services management.