The UK Department for Transport (DfT) has today published a study by Frontier exploring how the links between appraisal and evaluation can be improved. Appraisal (carried out before project implementation) and evaluation (carried out during or after implementation) are both valuable analytical tools to inform decisions about the effectiveness and value for money of transport policies or investments. Appraisal helps decision makers choose between options before implementation; evaluation can provide evidence of how an intervention has performed once implemented.
To date, both forms of analysis have tended to be carried out completely independently of each other. This suggests missed opportunities in terms of learning from evaluation to improve appraisal methods; and using information and models from appraisals to maximise what can be learned from the evaluation. Using case studies and in-depth interviews with transport appraisal and evaluation practitioners to understand current practice and the barriers and challenges to linking appraisal and evaluation, the study recommends that DfT should:
- Implement appraisal handover packs as a method of passing forward appraisal information to the evaluator;
- Develop portfolio approaches for evaluation so that evaluation evidence from similar types of schemes can be used to identify where appraisal tools and assumptions may need updating or improving; and
- Align evaluation with appraisal evidence needs by identifying where evaluation work could help address knowledge gaps in the appraisal (such as providing evidence on how a new technology performs so that this can be built into future appraisals).
Frontier regularly advises DfT and other public bodies on the effective design and use of evaluation approaches.
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