DAC Guidelines and Reference Series – Quality Standards for Development Evaluation

Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development - Development Assistance Committee

Created 10/06/2015



The DAC Quality Standards for Development Evaluation identify the key pillars needed for a quality development evaluation process and product. They are intended for use by evaluation managers and practitioners. The Standards are not mandatory, but provide a guide to good practice. They were developed primarily for use by DAC members, but broader use by all other development partners is welcome.

The Standards aim to improve quality and ultimately to strengthen the contribution of evaluation to improving development outcomes. Specifically, the Standards are intended to:

  • improve the quality of development evaluation processes and products, 
  • facilitate the comparison of evaluations across countries, 
  • support partnerships and collaboration on joint evaluations, and 
  • increase development partners’ use of each others’ evaluation findings.

The Standards support evaluations that adhere to the DAC Principles for the Evaluation of Development Assistance (1991), including impartiality, independence, credibility and usefulness, and should be read in conjunction with those principles. The Principles focus on the management and institutional set up of evaluation systems and remain the benchmark against which OECD DAC members are assessed in DAC Peer Reviews. By contrast, the Standards inform evaluation processes and products.

The Standards can be used during the different stages of the evaluation process and in a variety of ways, including to assess the quality of evaluations, inform practice, strengthen and harmonise evaluation training, or as an input to create evaluation guidelines or policy documents. The Standards should be applied sensibly and adapted to local and national contexts and the objectives of each evaluation. They are not intended to be used as an evaluation manual and do not supplant specific guidance on particular types of evaluation, methodologies or approaches. Further, these Standards do not exclude the use of other evaluation quality standards and related texts, such as those developed by individual agencies, professional evaluation societies and networks.

This document is structured in line with a typical evaluation process: defining purpose, planning, designing, implementing, reporting, and learning from and using evaluation results. The Standards begin with some overall considerations to keep in mind throughout the evaluation process. An annex provides references to related OECD DAC development evaluation publications. 

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