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A CHECKLIST FOR DEVELOPING AND EVALUATING EVALUATION BUDGETS

Jerry Horn

December 2001

This checklist is designed to assist evaluators and others think through the many issues that should be considered when developing an evaluation budget.  This instrument is divided into several categories of typical cost items for conducting evaluations, and questions or statements are used as prompts for users to consider.  In some cases, an item on the checklist may not be applicable.  Full consideration should be given to the following two Program Evaluation Standards¹ in all cases:

F3 - Cost Effectiveness.  The evaluation should be efficient and produce information of sufficient value, so that the resources expended can be justified.

P8 - Fiscal Responsibility.  The evaluator's allocation and expenditure of resources should reflect sound accountability procedures and otherwise be prudent and ethically responsible, so that expenditures are accounted for and appropriate.

I. Basic Considerations.  In developing a budget, basic considerations or information will guide the form and nature of your work.  Therefore, the issues should be known before attempting to construct either a preliminary or final budget.

Type of agreement for the evaluation

Will this evaluation be funded by a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement?

Condition of payment

Will payment be on the basis of cost reimbursement or a fixed price?

Funding source

Is the funding source a government agency, private foundation, private sector business/industry, or non-profit entity?

Funding period

Over what period of time will the budget be applicable?  Does this include more than one fiscal year?

Budget contact

Who are the designated contacts for budget matters in the funding organisation and in the proposer's organisation?

Budget limits

Has a limit for the evaluation budget been established, such as percentage of total budget or maximum amount?

Condition of payment

Will monies from the funding agency be made available as a lump sum, periodically (eg monthly, quarterly, or on the basis of submission of deliverables), or reimbursable based on submission of invoices with required documentation?

Preaward costs

Are costs allowable that are directly related to the evaluation activities but are incurred before the official effective date of the grant/contract?

II. Format.  Most agencies that actively fund projects that include evaluation components have specific formats in which they expect to receive proposed budgets.  Likewise, institutions or agencies that conduct evaluations have one or more acceptable formats for presenting budgets.

Designated format

Has a particular form or format been provided for the budget?

Institutional format

Is the form or format acceptable to your institution or agency, or will it require a budget organised according to other specifications?

Detail

Does the format require/include a separate set of details that explains how amounts are calculated or how the monies on a line will be used?

Cost breakdown by task/function

Are there unique budgetary breakdown, ie task, function, etc, required in addition to a budget summary by year and/or project activity?

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