Central evaluation units

Central evaluation units are government agencies typically housed within a central government agency, such as the Planning Ministry, the Finance Ministry or the Office of the President or Prime Minister.

Their scope might be M&E or only evaluation. Their role can sometimes be largely oversight and coordination of the national M&E system, including developing M&E policies and guidelines and supporting their implementation through capacity building. Sometimes, they are more directly involved in setting evaluation priorities, commissioning evaluations, oversight and coordination of national evaluations, synthesising evaluation findings, and promoting the use of evaluations in policy-making.

Different structures can be used for this purpose, including a separate Department or a Unit. Sometimes, they are framed in terms of M&E and sometimes in terms of implementation or impact analysis.


South Africa, Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation

The mission of the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation is to facilitate, influence and support effective planning, monitoring and evaluation of government programmes aimed at improving service delivery, outcomes and the impact on society. Areas of focus are:

  • Medium-Term Strategic Framework
  • Evaluations, including a National Evaluation Plan of specific evaluations to be undertaken
  • Citizens-Based Monitoring
  • Management Performance Assessment Tool
  • Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation (PM&E) Capacity Development Coordination
  • Frontline Service Delivery Monitoring
  • Planning Alignment
  • Presidential Hotline

Specific initiatives include developing and reporting on a National Evaluation Plan  and developing a panel of approved providers for evaluation and research services.

Australia, Australian Centre for Evaluation and Office of Impact Analysis

The Australian national government has two separate units with responsibility for particular types of evaluation.

The Australian Centre for Evaluation, based in the Department of Finance, was established in 2023. The centre works with departments and agencies to:

  • Promote the Commonwealth Evaluation Policy and help to ensure evaluation is considered at all stages of the policy cycle.
  • Ensure evaluation activities across the Australian government are conducted in line with the Commonwealth evaluation principles (fit for purpose; useful; robust, ethical, and culturally appropriate; credible; and transparent)
  • Embed high-quality evaluation planning and consistent use of evaluation evidence in Budget and Cabinet decision-making processes.
  • Champion high-quality impact evaluations, including randomised trials, by providing technical support and capability uplift.
  • Conduct high-quality impact evaluations through partnerships with departments and agencies to enhance the quality of evaluation evidence.
  • Oversee efforts to improve evaluation capability across the Australian Government.

The Office of Impact Assessment (OIA) is located in the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The Office works with departments and agencies to produce detailed, evidence-based assessments of complex policy issues by coaching them through the impact analysis process, which includes analysing the pros and cons of multiple policy options to best address the policy problem at hand. Ultimately, the focus is on the quality of the evidence and analysis. The Office publishes the impact analysis and publicly reports on quality and compliance. The Office also provides resources and training in impact analysis.


Global Evaluation Initiative (2022). MESA Guidance Note: Diagnostic Tool for a Monitoring and Evaluation Systems Analysis. Retrieved from https://www.globalevaluationinitiative.org/mesa

OECD (2012), Slovenia: Towards a Strategic and Efficient State, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris.

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