In April 2009, the Treasury Board Secretariat enacted a new Evaluation Policy replacing the previous 2001 version. This new policy has generated much discussion among the evaluation community, including the criticism that it has failed to repair the many shortcomings the function has faced since it centralized in 1977. This article reviews the history of the federal function as to why shortcomings persist and makes two assertions. First, if program evaluation is going to maintain its relevance, it will have to shift its focus from the individual program and services orientation to understanding how these programs and services relate to larger public policy objectives. Second, if program evaluation is to assume a whole-of-government approach, then evidentiary forms must be constructed to serve that purpose. The author makes the argument that evaluation must be far more holistic and calibrative than in the past; this means assessing the relevance, rationale, and effect of public policies. Only in this way can the function both serve a practical managerial purpose and be relevant to senior decision-makers. Copyright

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Journal Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation
Shepherd, R. (2012). In search of a balanced Canadian federal evaluation function: Getting to relevance. Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation, 26(2), 1–45.