Senior Program Officer, Evaluation

Primary Duties or Responsibilities

Project, Program and Corporate Evaluation

The Senior Program Officer (SPO) ensures that evaluation processes provide credible and valid evidence on which evaluation users can make decisions, change behaviours or adopt policies for all IDRC Program Areas.  The SPO facilitates evaluation processes that intentionally influence the focus, content and management of IDRC projects, programs and corporate policies, debates and approaches to improve the Centre’s and its partners’ performance and ensure accountability for the resources spent. Also, the SPO incorporates them in corporate evaluation processes led by the Evaluation Unit and provides technical assistance and training to support their program and project level evaluation processes.

The SPO:

  • identifies evaluation opportunities, needs, issues and priorities among Centre partner and program activities;
  • provides technical assistance to program staff and partners on evaluation planning, design, implementation and use;
  • designs, conducts and manages project, program and corporate evaluation processes for both accountability and learning purposes;
  • facilitates the use of evaluation processes and findings by partners, staff, management and other agencies;
  • designs and maintains systems within IDRC for generating, accessing and using evaluation findings within programs, across programs and at the organizational level;
  • represents the Division with other teams in the elaboration of evaluation research and programming themes through, inter alia, staff meetings, internal committees, in-house research, seminars and workshops;
  • identifies, plans and conducts staff development activities and trainings related to planning monitoring and evaluation; and
  • supports on-going reflection on the evaluation function within the Centre and on the performance of the Corporate Strategy and Evaluation Division.

Program and Corporate Evaluation System Development

The SPO plays a role in developing and refining the corporate evaluation system by identifing opportunities to be innovative in researching and mainstreaming learning-oriented planning, monitoring and evaluation approaches; working with colleagues to maintain the balance between learning and accountability in evaluation; and supporting the design of new, and the improvement of existing, systems, policies, approaches and tools, for the Centre. The SPO  shares evaluation tools and methods with other organizations both in the North and in the South, and maintains the Centre’s leadership role in the monitoring and evaluation of development research through these contributions to the field.  The SPO gains credibility for the Centre’s evaluation system with the Canadian federal government. 

Under the guidance of the Director and the SPS, the SPO:

  • provides input in the formulation, development and implementation of the Division’s program of work, corporate strategy and project portfolio;
  • identifies opportunities and development research questions in the area of monitoring and evaluation which have been targeted by the Division in order to meet its objectives and increase its visibility both within the Centre and externally;
  • provides input and sometimes leads in the elaboration of evaluation research themes and the Centre evaluation system through, inter alia, staff meetings, internal committees, in-house research, seminars and workshops;
  • provides input in the development of evaluation related Centre policies by analysing and assessing policy-related issues in evaluation programming and making recommendations to the Division and to Centre management;
  • ensures that regional and Southern perspectives are brought to bear on the work of the Division and corporate evaluation systems;
  • conducts research  to develop and adapt methods for planning, monitoring and evaluating research for development;
  • supports the conduct of research into evaluation tools and methods by partners and by the Centre;
  • documents and disseminates tools and methods in traditional and innovative formats appropriate to Centre audiences;
  • publishes on the theoretical approaches and practical experiences of the Centre in employing these methodologies; and
  • designs the curricula for and carries out training in tools and methods, for program staff, IDRC partners, other international agencies, Canadian agencies, and non-governmental organizations.

Project Development and Management

The SPO identifies project opportunities globally and across all Program Areas and maintains a balance between the Division’s project opportunities and collaborative projects with programs.  The SPO supports programs to design projects to enhance the capacity of Southern organizations to think evaluatively and plan, implement and use evaluation processes to strengthen their organizations and their management of research and development initiatives.

The SPO:

  • assesses proposals, including conceptual, methodological, operational, evaluative and financial aspects;
  • identifies, initiates and follows up on potential support and participation by the Canadian and international evaluation community in Centre work;
  • identifies opportunities for, and negotiates with, partner agencies, the monitoring and evaluation components of externally funded projects Centre-projects;
  • reviews projects and advises Centre staff on project evaluability;
  • provides technical supervision and assistance, including analysis of interim reports, participation in and facilitation of, workshops, trainings, literature searches identification and administration of resource persons/consultants in support of projects;
  • assists in coordinating the research and evaluation activities of collaborative projects between Canadian/international and developing country researchers;
  • prepares project completion reports;
  • assists in the preparation, submission and dissemination of evaluation reports for the Division’s externally funded projects; and
  • coordinates with program staff involved with joint Corporate Strategy and Evaluation Division-PPB projects to ensure the efficient management and effective implementation of monitoring and evaluation components.

Evaluation and Research Utilization and Centre Representation

In order to promote the use of evaluation and research findings, evidence-based decision making, and the Centre’s evaluation approach, the SPO:

  • identifies opportunities, prepares and disseminates evaluation and research results, processes and methodologies nationally and internationally;
  • negotiates relationships with a range of relevant agencies, presents to and participates in workshops, conferences and seminars, generates and synthesizes knowledge, and presents and publishes in formats and media appropriate and accessible to the user;
  • guides researchers in writing, editing and publishing evaluation research results, findings and innovative methodologies;
  • participates in public and scientific fora to represent the Centre internationally and within Canada, in order to contribute to knowledge on evaluation research and practice;
  • innovates in development of new approaches develops and delivers formal and informal information and training sessions for Centre program staff, partners or representatives of external agencies;
  • manages the design and maintenance of information systems for storing, accessing and analysing evaluation findings; and
  • initiates evaluation partnerships with other donors, leaders, research institutions and policy makers.

Job Scope

The Centre’s evaluation approach requires both rigour in application and facilitation of use, the Officer has some latitude to determine the appropriate approaches and methodologies, and must exercise judgement and technical knowledge to effectively initiate, design, conduct and manage evaluations at the project, program and corporate levels. 

Within the Division lead by the Director, the Officer is expected to:

  • manage a portfolio of 7-12 funded and non-funded projects per year with a degree of independence, latitude and discretion within the policies of the Centre and the plans set out in the Division’s strategic plan;
  • provide input into consultant selection and supervise those hired; and
  • work closely with 4-6 programs providing technical assistance and evaluation support.