Addressing the Hedgehog and the Fox Evidence Problem: Integrating Federal Evaluation and Performance Measurement Activities

Abstract

Over the past decade, Executive Branch officials encouraged Federal agencies to improve program performance through the use of strategic performance goal setting and increased evaluation activities. Viewed through the lens of Isaac Berlin's hedgehog-fox analogy, performance measurement and evaluation activities in the U.S. government developed and are practiced in silos with different informational scopes and uses in program management. This paper briefly examines the theoretical basis for coordinating and integrating monitoring and evaluation efforts at the Federal level beyond current practice. Then, building on past research, this paper draws from a series of semi-structured interviews with employees from five Federal agencies to understand how central evaluation guidance is conveyed and implemented within agencies, with a focus on opportunities for integration. Sixteen recommendations are offered to improve implementation of Federal evaluation activities, including the integration of performance measurement within the broader evaluation function.