Senior Program Specialist, Evaluation

Primary Duties and/or Responsibilities

Project, Program and Corporate Evaluation

The Senior Program Specialist, Evaluation (SPS) provides leadership on evaluation processes and provides staff and management with technical support and training for evaluation at project, program and corporate levels. On evaluation matters, SPS fosters relationships and collaboration amongst different programming units of the Centre. The SPS recommends appropriate methods for and facilitates the design, conduct and use of, evaluation and self-assessment tools, methods and processes by program staff and management to support their use of evaluation to inform project and program design, improve management practices, encourage effective research utilization and cohesive programming, inform strategic decision making, and ensure accountability.
Designs and manages external program reviews that go to IDRC’s Board of Governors, and strategic evaluations on themes and results that cut across the Centre’s programs.

The SPS:

  • identifies evaluation opportunities, needs, issues and priorities among Centre partners and program activities;
  • 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 (e.g., evaluation planning, data collection and analysis systems, design and implementation of studies, use of findings) to build the capacity of program staff and management to think evaluatively and improve the Centre’s effectiveness;
  • provides technical assistance to program staff and partners on evaluation planning, design, implementation and use;
  • advises externally funded programs on evaluation needs and approaches of IDRC’s funding partners, and helps design evaluation strategies and processes that meet the needs of all donors
  • supports on-going reflection on the evaluation function within the Centre and on the performance of the Policy and Evaluation Division; and
  • represents the Director in her/his absence.

Program and Corporate Evaluation System Development

The SPS plays  a lead role in developing and refining the corporate evaluation system by identifying opportunities to be innovative in researching and mainstreaming learning-oriented planning, monitoring and evaluation approaches ; by working with colleagues to maintain the balance between learning and accountability in evaluation; and by supporting the design of new, and the improvement of existing systems, policies, approaches and tools by aligning evaluation to support corporate strategy planning and implementation.

The SPS identifies gaps and Centre needs, and develops, tests and disseminates new evaluation tools and methodologies for assessing development research initiatives and for learning oriented approaches to evaluation for use by Centre staff and partners. The SPS also shares these tools 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 SPS gains credibility for the Centre’s evaluation system with the Canadian federal government (e.g., Office of the Auditor General of Canada, Treasury Board Secretariat) as well as internationally.

Under the guidance of the Director, the SPS:

  • leads the formulation, development and implemention of the Division’s program of work, corporate strategy and project portfolio;
  • leads the elaboration of evaluation research themes and the Centre’s evaluation system through, inter alia, staff meetings, internal committees, in-house research, seminars and workshops;
  • leads the development of evaluation related Centre policies by analysing and assessing policy-related issues in evaluation programming and making recommendations to the Policy and Evaluation 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;
  • defines strategies for building new relationships with Northern and Southern institutions, practitioners, researchers, evaluators and the development community;
  • establishes contacts and exchanges information and knowledge with a variety of organizations and individuals in both North and South to advance the evaluation practice of the Centre and its partner organizations;
  • conducts research and supports the conduct of research into evaluation tools and methods by the Centre and partners;
  • publishes theoretical approaches and practical experiences of the Centre in employing these methodologies;
  • presents and promotes these methodologies at Centre-organized meetings and workshops as well as at external conferences, workshops and seminars with the development, academic, government and evaluation communities, both nationally and internationally; 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 SPS identifies project opportunities globally and across all Program Areas and designs 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 SPS monitors and provides technical assistance to project partners on an on-going basis and financially manages projects in accordance with Centre policies and procedures.

The SPS:

  • assesses proposals, including conceptual, methodological, operational, evaluative and financial aspects;
  • identifies and develops evaluation research proposals, projects, interventions, studies or collaborative activities, which advance the Centre’s and its collaborators’ or partners’ knowledge and/or practice related to monitoring and evaluation concepts, methods and tools;
  • identifies, initiates and follows up on potential support and participation by the Canadian and international evaluation community in Centre work and 
  • on partnerships with other funding agencies to support project activities;
  • identifies opportunities for, and negotiates with, partner agencies, the monitoring and evaluation components of externally funded Centre-projects;
  • negotiates with researchers to increase the use they make of research and evaluation as input in policy and program formulation;
  • facilitates the design of monitoring and evaluation systems and capacity building strategies for projects in partner institutions;
  • reviews projects and advises Centre staff on project evaluability;
  • manages, in consultation with Resources Branch staff, the preparation of contracts, grant letters, materiel purchases, travel arrangements, analysis of financial statements, budget and schedule adjustments and project closures;
  • 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;
  • coordinates with program staff involved with joint Policy and Evaluation Division projects to ensure the efficient management and effective implementation of monitoring and evaluation components; and
  • when travelling, liaises with Canadian diplomatic representatives to inform them of Centre evaluation activities.

Evaluation and Research Utilization and Centre Representation

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

  • 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 results, findings and innovative methodologies;
  • participates in public and scientific fora to represent the Centre internationally and within Canada; 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.