Bureau for Food Security DE Pilot Final Report

Speeches Shim

Since its inception, the Bureau for Food Security (“the Bureau” or BFS) has provided the leadership and vision for the United States Agency for International Development (“the Agency” or USAID)’s international agricultural development practice, focusing on initiatives to combat hunger and poverty as well as increase the resilience of communities. As the Bureau and Agency as a whole were undergoing significant transformation, BFS identified a need to use learning from current practices to inform the Bureau’s future structures and functions. For this purpose, BFS elected to implement a developmental evaluation (DE) to better understand how successful the Bureau’s units were in capturing learning and dealing with challenges related to knowledge management (KM) and knowledge sharing (KS).

Beginning in December 2019, the BFS developmental evaluation (DE) pilot worked with five different teams to support the development of KM/KS practices. The effort also sought to capture learning within and across teams, and also provide pathways for better KM at the Bureau level.

The pilot faced several challenges that necessarily limited the application of the DE approach, including the longest shutdown in the history of the United States Government (USG) and significant staff and leadership turnover in the Bureau. There were several iterations of DE scopes of work (SOWs) and lines of inquiry throughout the nine-month period, based within various teams.

Overall, the DE was unable to fully take off and address the questions posed in the initial SOW. Instead, it provided the Bureau with several products and answers to a limited set of questions stemming from shorter-term involvement with distinct teams. Unfortunately, at the time of DE implementation, and due to factors outside the control of the Developmental Evaluator and some BFS colleagues, it was not possible to create the necessary environment of adaptive learning within the Bureau units to enable a successful DE. The Developmental Evaluator was, however, able to share proposed pathways for future KM application within the future Bureau based on observations, team meetings participation, and key informant interviews (KIIs).

The Developmental Evaluator provided some recommendations at around the DE’s half-way point and closeout stage. The recommended next steps include focusing on a few aspects of KM that would yield quick results, such as resource repository development and refreshing intranet content. Additionally, it is important to incorporate KM efforts into the ongoing strategic and transformation effort, allowing for easier integration and buy-in at multiple levels. Other recommendations are to provide staff tools and training, support adoption of KM processes, and finally, track KM efforts to better understand where there are both successes and challenges in the future.

This report details the process, progress, findings, and recommendations of the DE.

Thursday, December 3, 2020 - 11:30am