IPM Planning and Evaluation

Why is Evaluation Important?

We all want to know that what we do is effective - that we accomplished what we set out to do and made the difference we intended. In IPM there are at least two motivations for evaluation, including making sure that projects and programs achieve the desired goals and proving to sponsors that their funding has been well spent.

Whether a project is sponsored by someone else - an agency, a non-governmental organization, a university - or from our own funds, when we participate in activities to make IPM work (outputs), we want to meet our goals (outcomes or impacts) and spend time and money (inputs) wisely.

Careful program planning that includes indicators to measure progress is the key to program evaluation. Evaluating a program's results to see if the program has made a difference gives justification for the resources expended.

Since the 1970s, USDA has sponsored IPM extension programs at land-grant universities and in government, and by many accounts, the overall USDA IPM program has been highly successful. Some claim that IPM has been "one of the best answers to reducing chemical contamination of the environment and improving the safety of food while maintaining agricultural viability" (Rajotte 1993). Others argue that implementation has been slow and success has been limited.

Efforts to measure the success of IPM have been numerous. Unfortunately, only a few IPM researchers have produced results that conclusively show that IPM has resulted in long-term change - improved environmental quality, improved human health, or economic benefit. No accepted comprehensive nationwide evaluation or method of evaluation has been developed. The failure to assess program impacts and determine long-term outcomes has been an impediment to determining the true worth of the USDA IPM program.

In times of budget shortfalls and increasing demands for accountability, program evaluation is becoming an essential component of all government programs. In 2003 the U.S. Government Accountability Office, in cooperation with the Office of Management and Budget, developed a new system of performance measurement and increased the demands for performance measures and accountability for government programs.

Under this system, USDA has an increased requirement to develop methods to measure outcomes, or the environmental or economic impacts, associated with IPM implementation. The Department must establish measurable goals and develop a method for measuring the progress of the program (GAO 2001). As a result, USDA has embraced performance measurements (i.e., a focus on inputs, outputs, and outcomes) in its own work as well as for the projects and programs it sponsors.

This IPM Planning for Evaluation website, sponsored by USDA, is one step toward helping to measure the impacts of integrated pest management programs.

 

 
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