Commonwealth Evaluation Policy and Toolkit

Evaluation in the Commonwealth tile 2021

The Finance Minister has endorsed a Commonwealth Evaluation Policy (the Policy) and supporting Toolkit, which take effect on 1 December 2021.

The Policy and Toolkit were developed in response to the Government’s Australian Public Service (APS) Reform Agenda. The Government expects the APS to deliver for all Australians by setting clear goals and measuring progress towards their achievement – these new resources will help to drive continuous improvement by building evaluation capability and expertise into everyday practice across the APS.

The collaborative process used to develop the Policy and Toolkit reflects the way Finance supports and engages with entities, including leveraging existing expertise, working in partnership with Commonwealth experts through a cross-agency Evaluation Reference Group, and creating opportunities for self-service to promote the objectives of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability (PGPA) Act 2013.

Over 40 Commonwealth entities, and a number of external stakeholders, helped to develop the Policy and Toolkit through an extensive collaborative design and user testing process. We would like to thank everyone who participated in its development.

Commonwealth Evaluation Policy

The Policy is principles-based. It is designed to support and promote better practice evaluation activities across the policy cycle. It applies to all entities and companies subject to the PGPA Act. It does not introduce any new mandatory requirements.

The aim of the Policy is to:

  • embed an APS culture of evaluation and learning from experience
  • improve the impact of programs through evidence-based policy and delivery
  • support Commonwealth entities to improve the quality of performance reporting through adherence to consistent, quality standards and approaches.

The Policy anchors evaluation within existing public sector frameworks established under the PGPA Act, and aligns with the strengthened focus on evaluation in the Budget process. It provides a strong foundation to build evaluation capability and embed evaluation practices across the APS.

See short video overview of how and why the Policy was developed, and what it aims to achieve. Evaluation policy transcript.

Evaluation Toolkit

The Toolkit provides people who are new to evaluation with an overview of evaluation concepts and approaches so they can:

  • build their capability to evaluate government programs and activities
  • understand more about measuring the effects and impacts of a program or activity
  • use data and robust evidence to drive continuous improvement
  • help deliver successful policies and programs
  • meet their obligations under relevant Commonwealth legislation and policy
  • improve the quality of performance reporting
  • help build an evaluative culture across the Commonwealth.

The Toolkit provides access to simple and practical guidance to help someone to plan and conduct an evaluation. It will support Commonwealth entities to improve the quality of performance reporting by leveraging evaluative tools and approaches to provide performance insights and help to drive improvements in government programs across the policy cycle.

It will be hosted on Finance’s website and will be regularly reviewed to maintain up-to-date content and usability based on feedback.

See short video overview of the resources available in the Toolkit. Toolkit video transcript.

Next steps

Finance will continue working with key stakeholders to embed evaluation planning in New Policy Proposals and Regulation Impact Statements, and with the APS Academy to build evaluation capability in line with the APS Workforce Strategy 2025.

Finance will support ongoing evaluation capability building initiatives for entities across the Commonwealth through guidance, tools, information sessions and advice.

To raise awareness about the Policy and Toolkit, and to help embed them within entities across the Commonwealth, information sessions will be delivered by Finance, in partnership with the APSC Academy, from January 2022.

Keep an eye on these sites for more details:

Tailored information sessions are also available – for information contact us by email at:


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