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Applying evaluative thinking to value for money: The Pakistan Sub-national Governance Programme

Julian King and Stephanie Allan

Value for Money (VfM) poses an evaluative question about how well resources are used, and whether the resource use is justified (King, 2017). In international development there is increasing scrutiny on VfM. Currently, however, VfM assessment in the sector leaves substantial room for improvement. For example, VfM frameworks often comprise a collection of indicators of variable quality, devoid of an explicitly evaluative judgement. This article demonstrates the use of explicit evaluative reasoning in VfM assessment, using rubrics tailored to the programme context to support mixed-methods evaluation of VfM. This approach facilitates transparent and well-reasoned judgements that respond to donor requirements for information that supports accountability and good resource allocation, as well as learning and adaptive management. The example of the Sub-national Governance (SNG) Programme in Pakistan (supporting reforms in public financial management, planning, and innovative service improvement pilots) is used to illustrate the use of this VfM approach in addressing the challenges that arise when evaluating VfM in complex, adaptive programmes. Core principles of the approach are transferable to other sectors.

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