Estimated costs for evaluation services depending on the scale of the program being evaluated

The resource provides a guide for the expected costs of various evaluative activities in an Australian context.

This resource and the following information was contributed by George Argyrous.

Authors and their affiliation

George Argyros, Institute of Public Policy Governance, University of Technology, Sydney.

Key features

The resource provides a guide for the expected costs of various evaluative activities in an Australian context. The main purpose for commissioners of evaluative activity to have a sense of the budget they should set aside for these activities. However, the guide also alerts potential users to the range of possible evaluative activities.

'Scale' in the guide refers to a combination of the following interrelated factors:

  • how many people or other units of analysis are the 'target' of the program
  • whether the project is made up of a variety of sub-programs/projects that are distinct
  • the geographic spread of the program
  • the range of key evaluation questions that need to be answered and the range of data collection methods that this implies
  • whether the evaluative activities will include any 'hard-to-reach' populations
  • whether the evaluation will involve particular skill-sets, e.g. culturally sensitive evaluation team members

How have you used the resource?

This resource was initially developed for the Commonwealth Department of Home Affairs, which allocate a dedicated budget for evaluation when they provide grants to state governments to undertake disaster recovery programs. It helped the Department determine how much should be allocated for this task, based on characteristics of the programs to be evaluated.

The resource has since been circulated among other government departments, who have indicated that it provides useful rules-of-thumb.

It would be interesting to hear from others if this fits with their experiences, whether the values should be changed, and whether there are other evaluative activities that could be added.

Why would you recommend it to other people?

Rather than using a simple rule-of-thumb, such as the percentage of program budget, to determine the budget to be allocated for evaluation, this guide uses the scale of the program, in combination with the type of evaluative activity, to provide a range that can inform resource allocation.