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Membership Spotlight: Nick Hart

Thu, December 01, 2016 2:37 AM | Robin Kelley

Dr. Nick Hart has worked in the field of program evaluation for nearly a decade, collaborating with government agencies and local organizations alike to improve evaluation capacity.  He was drawn to evaluation practice by a desire to encourage public environmental programs to continually learn to improve their effectiveness.  Through a previous role in the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Nick had the opportunity to work with multiple Federal agencies in developing evaluation agendas and obtaining critical resources for conducting evaluation.

Dr. Hart's recent research on "Evaluation at EPA" challenged existing notions of evaluation capacity within government institutions, positing that new frameworks are needed to consider unique contextual circumstances that are relevant for large, complex, regulatory organizations.  In "Evaluation at EPA," Dr. Hart suggests that evaluation production within government institutions like EPA may be limited by a short "evaluation window," or a brief point in time in which facilitators of evaluation must converge in order to overcome the more commonly identified barriers to production.

The "struggle for evaluation capacity and institutionalism theory," Hart writes, "[is] to rationalize how governmental organizations can keep the 'evaluation window' open without mandating evaluation in a way that agencies are no longer willing to exercise the learning opportunities evaluation can provide."

Dr. Hart joined Washington Evaluators four years ago and has been active in the organization's leadership ever since, first as WE's Treasurer and currently as President-Elect.  He will become the President of Washington Evaluators in January 2017.  In addition, he is a board member of the Eastern Evaluation Research Society, another AEA affiliate, and serves on the American Evaluation Association's Evaluation Policy Task Force. 

"WE provides really important  and needed services to the evaluation community here in DC," Dr. Hart said. "WE's many professional development brownbags provide a constant forum to learn new strategies being employed in the evaluation field and by a wide range of organizations.  This shared knowledge about the state of the field is critical for thinking through future directions in evaluation policy and practice."

Dr. Hart  is currently working as the Policy and Research Director for the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking.  You can learn more about him at www.nickhart.us or on Twitter at @nickrhart

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