Public site for government evaluations delayed due to resourcing issues

Registry developed after watchdog MPs raised concerns over use and transparency of evaluations across government
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By Tevye Markson

31 May 2024

The Evaluation Registry, a new single online hub for evaluations across government, has now been rolled out across all departments, but a publicly accessible version has been delayed due to resource constraints.

In a Treasury Minutes response published yesterday, the Treasury and Cabinet Office gave an update on their plan to publish a tracker detailing all evaluations, as recommended by the Public Accounts Committee in its May 2022 report Use of evaluation and modelling in government.

They confirmed that the rollout of the Evaluation Registry to all government departments, arm's-length bodies, public bodies and What Works Centres was completed in February, while use of the registry has been mandatory for all central government departments since April.

But the Treasury Minutes update stated that the launch date for the public site for the registry has been delayed from summer 2023 to August 2024 due to “constraints on specialist resource and the onboarding of a new supplier to finish the site build and deliver the public launch”.

The Cabinet Office sought an external provider to complete delivery of the project due to constraints on internal specialist resource and to ensure the project was delivered in a timely manner, CSW understands. 

The site “has been improved based on user testing and feedback over this period, but still requires further work before it can be launched publicly”, according to the update. The supplier is “on schedule” to meet the August deadline, it adds.

The registry was launched in private beta in July 2023 for user testing with three initial departments.  It includes evaluations previously conducted as well as those that are planned and under way.

The government initially aimed to deliver the public version of the registry around the same time – summer 2023 – but warned in December 2022 that there “remains an outstanding risk that it may not be possible to secure the services of a development supplier who is able to promptly undertake the work for a reasonable price relative to the scope of work”.

The registry was initially developed by the Evaluation Task Force and the Incubator for Automation and Innovation, along with an external supplier which was tasked by the Cabinet Office with extracting information from over 2000 historic evaluations for inclusion on the site, "ensuring it will launch with a critical mass of content, making it useful from the outset”. 

The government has said the work to include historic evaluations will make it one of the largest repositories of government evaluation evidence in the world.

The registry was developed after reports from PAC and the National Audit Office warned that departments were not meeting requirements for evaluation transparency. 

The National Audit Office said in its December 2021 report that "the use of evaluation continues to be variable and inconsistent" and that “government is not taking full advantage of opportunities to bring together evaluation findings, extract the learning and apply lessons across different departments”.

PAC said in its follow-up report that departments "are not meeting government requirements on publishing evaluation plans and findings, and on transparency of models and their outputs".

The committee asked the Treasury to work with the Cabinet Office to publish a "tracker with details of evaluations including their planned publication date, and explanations from departments where publication is delayed or withheld". The Evaluation Registry has been developed to address these concerns.


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