4
specific additional analyses and research.
USAID's evaluation
plans for FY 1999, included in the APP, provide an indication of
the supplementary work being planned.
Improving the timeliness and quality of data for the indicators
will remain a challenge.
Many data sources simply do not report
results promptly at the end of a reporting period.
Likewise, the
quality of data collection and reporting systems vary.
The
result is that data are often not available for a year or more
afterwards and, at times, are adjusted significantly after
publication.
Thus, any report on performance for a year just
ending will contain information drawn from one or more prior
years.
USAID will note the years for which the data are
available and any concerns on data quality.
USAID has already collected and created a data base containing
the selected indicators.
It includes time series data for each
of its indicators for the 31 performance goals for all developing
and transitional countries.
This data base will facilitate
analyses and the rapid sharing of information.
Benchmarks
Setting annual performance benchmarks for FY 1999 proved to be as
challenging as selecting performance indicators.
The benchmarks
are in keeping with USAID's approach to setting long term
performance goals.
They permit the Agency to assess whether it
is on the right track towards achieving its long term performance
goals. (See Figure 1 for a graphic illustration of these
relationships between annual benchmarks, ten year performance
goals, and Agency goals.)
The Agency has stretched its knowledge and understanding of
development as well as the quality of the data available to
establish the annual performance benchmarks.
Some benchmarks may
appear to be more definitive than one might expect, given the
level of knowledge and understanding about development or the
quality of data available.
However, the Agency chose to adopt
such benchmarks as a means to not only assess performance, but
also to challenge ourselves to continually improve our
understanding of development and enhance program effectiveness.
These latter factors are believed to make the risk of
establishing challenging benchmarks worth taking.
USAID will
monitor this decision to see if it indeed proves to be motivating
or distorting.
The decision to use this approach will be
revisited next year after further experience is gained.
In some cases, the annual benchmarks are based on data from one
specific year or are derived from trendlines of three to five
years in duration.
In other cases, the Agency has used the
considered judgements of technical experts, both inside and
outside the Agency, to establish the annual performance
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