In September 2019 DevTech was commissioned to conduct three evaluations for the International Monetary Fund (IMF): one of the Middle East Regional Technical Assistance Center (METAC), a second of the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Center (CARTAC), and a third of the Swiss Sub-Account (SECO). After the COVID-19 pandemic grounded our evaluation team earlier this year, DevTech has brought together numerous tools to rapidly convert two months of full-time fieldwork into a comprehensive remote data collection strategy. Our evaluation team is using WebEx, Zoom, Skype, and WhatsApp to conduct nearly 100 interviews with authorities, donors, and technical assistance providers in four languages across a dozen countries. Our team has begun coding and analyzing the interview transcripts, triangulating findings with desk review results, and we look forward to presenting draft reports for all three evaluations to the IMF in the coming weeks.

As part of our evaluation, we are applying the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) criteria of relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact, and sustainability to evaluate a representative sample of technical assistance projects provided by each entity. Project-level results will be aggregated to illustrate the work of the entity as a whole. Through our data collection efforts, we are identifying lessons learned and best practices: how the IMF can most effectively identify and support the priority needs of beneficiary countries; the best ways to coordinate assistance with other providers to promote synergy; the most successful strategies to maximize cost efficiency without sacrificing results.

These questions have become even more important in the midst of the current pandemic and unfolding economic devastation. With most, if not all, work going remote, it is essential to understand what remote engagement options are most advantageous to beneficiary countries. Our team is reviewing past examples of remote learning and interviewing beneficiary authorities around the world to distill what methods worked, where, and why. With the grim economic outlook, world leaders are reconsidering their priorities and which areas they would like the support of the IMF’s world-class experts. The IMF—and donors—must understand the best ways to collaborate and increase flexibility to respond to these needs. We have completed hours of interviews with IMF staff, donors, and beneficiary authorities to determine the formal and informal information sharing processes that are useful to identify, plan, fund, and implement priority projects.

We are staying in place and looking in the past at projects conducted in the last few years, but our findings will help position the IMF adapt to the times ahead.