#EvalAction Days: Evaluators Visiting with Policymakers about the Importance of Evaluation
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs) AND SIGN-UP FORM
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1) What is the EvalAction initiative?
Do you think decision makers should have evidence when making important policy decisions? Do you think facts are an important part of policy discourse? Do you want to help AEA promote good federal evaluation policy? Have you ever wanted to visit the Capitol and an opportunity to talk about evidence and evaluation with policymakers? Now is your chance!
The EvalAction initiative in 2017 -- co-sponsored by the American Evaluation Association's (AEA) Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF) and Washington Evaluators (WE) -- facilitates you visiting Capitol Hill to speak with congressional staff, communicating the importance of evaluation and evidence to our government and our society.
During your visit, you will provide staff with materials developed by the AEA, highlighting AEA’s mission and explaining the basics of program evaluation. You will also have the opportunity to answer staff's questions about AEA and the field of evaluation. After your visit you will be asked to follow-up via email with the congressional staffer(s) you met and will be asked to complete a brief survey on your visit on how interested your congressperson is in the areas of government management and evaluation.
If you are interested in participating in this initiative, please sign up using the on-line form (here). We encourage you to read through all the FAQs prior to signing up.
2) Do I need to sign-up to participate in this initiative?
Yes. You must sign-up to participate in the EvalAction event by completing the form located here. All participants must sign up and participate in a training session prior to representing AEA on Capitol Hill.
3) Is Congress in session during the AEA conference?
Congress is scheduled to be in session during the beginning of the AEA conference. The AEA conference in 2017 will be held from November 6 to 11; and Congress is in session November 6 to 9. November 10 is Veteran’s Day, a federal holiday, and offices and Capitol Hill will be closed; November 11 is Saturday. Although most congressional Members and staff will be in D.C. during most of the AEA conference, their congressional staff are whom AEA members will most likely visit.
4) Why should I plan to speak with congressional staff?
Members of Congress vote on a wide range of topics each year. Their staff help keep them up to speed on the legislation they will develop and eventually vote on. Staffs run the day-to-day machinery of legislative policy making, operating behind the scenes to support Members of Congress. Staff have their hands on the levers, buttons, and ropes of every major piece of legislation that moves through Congress, and provide valuable advice and consultation to Members of Congress about strategy.
Staff assume many different types of responsibilities, and through this event you will connect with the staff(s) who are responsible for developing legislation and policy, specifically those who deal with program management, performance management, and program evaluation. They are the ones who are most likely to benefit from better understanding how evaluation can be used in the legislative process and to support desired outcomes of new legislation. These staff are often responsible for providing recommendations and information summaries on evaluation issues to staff directors and congressional members.
However, Members of Congress also have areas of special interest to them (e.g., education, defense, health, transportation, the environment, or government administration) and seek to be assigned to committees that develop legislation in areas. Their work in these committees eventually turns them into experts on their committees' topics. Because they vote on the early stages of legislation in their committees, they are very influential in shaping legislation before bills get to the floor of the House or Senate for all members to vote on. Each of these committees also have professional staff who can play a critical role in working with Members of Congress in developing legislation and policy, specifically with regard to evaluation.
So, if you also have interest in a particular policy area and the role that evaluation can have in helping policy makers make decisions about it, you should try to speak to the staff of a Member of Congress or a committee staff members. And if you are interested in a particular “area of interest,” you are encouraged to research which of your representatives or senators is most active/interested in your “area of interest,” and which committees are most germane.
5) What will success for AEA look like?
The primary goals of your visit to Capitol Hill are to acquaint congressional staff and Members with the main messages of AEA, and to promote the value of evidence and evaluation in our society. Specifically, the EvalAction initiative aims to emphasize
- the key importance of program evaluation for understanding the effect of Federal programs and to inform decision-making;
- that AEA is a professional organization that promotes the practice of valid, reliable, and credible evaluation;
- that AEA can provide help in understanding what kind of evaluations can be used to address a variety of needs and goals of policymakers; and
- that AEA can provide assistance in developing legislation that will incorporate evaluation in the design of programs to address intended policy goals and questions of Congress.
6) What is the timeline for this initiative?
March 1, 2017 – September 22, 2017
Sign-up for this initiative using the registration button on this page. You must sign-up in advance to participate in EvalAction.
Early October, 2017
An EPTF member will invite you to join a mandatory conference call to discuss this initiative and advise you on how to schedule a visit with your congressperson, discuss in more detail what to expect during your visit, and answer your questions. You must participate in the call in order to represent AEA at the event this fall.
Early October 2017 /Early November 2017
You will contact your congressional office and make an appointment with the appropriate staff. The days we recommend for visiting Capitol Hill during the AEA conference are November 6–9.
AEA conference (November 6, 2017 – November 11, 2017)
You will pick up your packet of materials during AEA conference check-in at the conference center. The materials will serve as handouts for your visit. If you will be unable to pick-up materials, please notify an event organizer to arrange for alternative delivery.
Visit the congressional office at the scheduled time.
7) I RSVP'ed, now what?
Post AEA conference (Late November 2017)
Send an email to your congressional contact(s) thanking them for the visit and providing them with additional materials/information.
Complete a survey to provide information about your visit to the EPTF.
After you have expressed interest in participating, please wait until receiving further information from event organizers before reaching out to schedule meetings specifically related to this event.