Rethinking how we collect, share, and use development results data.
To give government and agency leaders the information, tools, and approaches they need to base development management, policy, and planning decisions on actual results.
Launched in 2015 with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, our first task for the Results Data Initiative (RDI) was to better understand how local-level development actors actually collect, share, and use results data to inform development programs. After speaking with over 450 government officials, donor representatives, and implementer staff, we are putting our insights into action.
We will work with two country governments and three development agencies to address critical barriers to results data use. How? By creating a combination of tools, datasets, resources, and approaches to help dynamic officials in each partner institution enable results-based decisions. With our partners at the Results for Development Institute, we are implementing an innovative joint learning approach to drive this program, ensuring our work meaningfully influences the actions of leading development actors.
RDI Phase II
In Phase II, with new support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, RDI has entered into implementing practical solutions. We will work alongside country governments and development partners to find new ways to promote results data use, and especially to connect resource allocation to results. Specifically, we will be applying theories of change – models of how strategies and inputs result in expected impact – to match political economy, institutional structures, human resources, and data sources. Doing so can help us find ways to merge data into policy and decision-making processes.
While the first goal of RDI is to elevate the results focus of a few governments and agencies, our broader goal is to provide real examples for how the "Data Revolution" can improve development policy and practice.
To achieve this goal, we are working with at least two countries and two development agencies to address critical barriers to results data use.
We are seeking to transform these constraints into a virtuous cycle of data use by using a problem-driven and iterative approach (PDIA) to first identify a relevant decision; then work “backwards” to identify the right tools, resources, and data needed to support that decision.
Our Problem-Driven, Iterative, and Adaptive (PDIA) Approach
RDI Phase II at the Country Level
DG is working with the Governments of Tanzania and Malawi, in the health and agriculture sectors respectively. We are working with each government to identify practical applications of data to support government leaders get the information they need to base management, policy, and planning decisions on actual results.
We're putting our PDIA approach into motion – facilitating cross ministerial discussions around key problems and decisions for which data could be used, and potential data sources and tool designs to meet these needs. This new approach enabled us to leverage knowledge, capacity, and data from across ministries to design more holistic, needs-based solutions.
Our goal is to develop sustainable (and scalable) tools and analysis that outlast this program. These tools will be country-owned and co-created, developed based on the needs identified by decision makers themselves and tested through a PDIA approach. In the two countries, we are undergoing co-design workshops that value feedback and iteration in order to build tools that make the most sense for their users.
RDI Phase II at the Agency Level
DG is also working with two Development Agencies – the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID) and Global Affairs Canada (GAC) – to assess current results information use in each agency, and co-create, test, and scale tools and processes that increase the use of data and evidence in policy making.
This work includes holistic assessments aimed at identifying the political, technical, and practical obstacles to improving results data use. Learnings from the assessments serve as an input for developing, testing, and scaling the new tools and processes. This approach is collaborative, continuous, and iterative so as to arrive at tools that are useful and tailored to the needs of each agency. In working with DFID and GAC, we utilize the same PDIA approach that we do at the country level in Tanzania and Malawi, but adapt it to different contexts. We aim to arrive at tools that are useful and made-to-measure for the specific needs of each agency.
Targeting data use pain points within agencies and development partners themselves is an exciting – and unique – opportunity to pave the road to effective policy implementation, improved accountability, and useful learning.
The Latest Results Data Stories
Last month, the Results Data Initiative (RDI) convened its second cross-ministry co-design workshop -- surfacing new opportunities for the Government of Tanzania to put health data to use at the local level.
This post builds upon a DG contribution to the 2017 OECD Development Cooperation Report, launched on October 17, 2017.
All too often, discussions about managing for results in development fail to specify who is managing, what decisions they are authorized to make, or what results data are being used. Identifying the who and whats is critical, as this decision space informs what types of tools, processes, and information are needed by decision-makers to serve the why: achieving better outcomes.
It didn’t surprise me when I learned that -- when Ministry of Finance officials conduct trainings on the Aid Management Platform for Village Chiefs, CSOs and citizens throughout the districts of Malawi -- officials are almost immediately asked:
“What were the results of these projects? What were the outcomes?”