Ministry of Foreign Affairs evaluations

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs pursues a number of objectives to do with the relationship between the Netherlands and the rest of the world. But does it achieve them? If so, how do we know?

Since 2001, regular, independent evaluations of government policy have been mandatory. Development cooperation has been the object of close evaluation for much longer.

Evaluations have a twofold objective:

  • To determine whether policy is efficient and effective. This allows the ministry to account for the use of resources.
  • To offer insight into why results were (or were not) achieved. The ministry can draw on lessons learned to improve policy.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has devised six-year evaluation programmes for the Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade & Development Cooperation budgets. The programmes are amended annually and submitted to the House of Representatives together with the budget in question.

Most evaluations look back on what has already taken place. These are called ‘ex post’ evaluations. The 2006 Order on Periodic Evaluation and Policy Information identifies two kinds of ex post evaluation:

  • Policy reviews
  • Impact studies

Policy reviews offer a comprehensive evaluation of policy at the level of general or operational objectives, whereas impact studies measure the policy’s net effect. The evaluation programmes also include other types of evaluations, the results of which are drawn on when compiling policy reviews. All these policy reviews, impact studies and other evaluations can be found on this website.

Most evaluations are carried out by or on behalf of the Policy and Operations Evaluation Department (IOB), the ministry’s independent evaluation service. Other evaluations are performed by the policy departments themselves. The IOB determines when development cooperation evaluations are carried out, and what form they take.