in 300 or more words, complete an organizational policy assessment on any organization in the criminal justice field.
EXAMPLE: an assessment of a policy requiring that all new employees be trained on the specifics of their job duties.
An organizational process assessment could examine whether a particular organizational process, such as the intake process for new clients, is gathering accurate information about clients prior to initiating services for them. Another example might be whether the process for gathering feedback from users of a recycling center is being used effectively.
Each of these is an example of a specific organizational process or policy evaluation that should be designed to provide the organization with information about the efficiency and effectiveness of some aspect of the organization’s operations. They might be conducted to meet the requirements of a legislative mandate or related to continued funding from a private foundation. Or they might be conducted to ensure that the organization is meeting its commitment to its public service mission. Such assessments might be used simply to meet the desires of the organizational leaders to use their resources in the most effective ways possible.
A program evaluation/assessment plan even one that focuses on a particular, and therefore limited, organizational policy or process provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate the critical thinking, research, analysis, and communication skills that they have developed over the course of the MPA program courses and in a way that is easily transferable to all aspects of their public administration practice whether their future focus is on public policy development or analysis, or on program development, implementation, and outcome assessment. It does so by providing students with the critical steps needed in any aspect of public administration practice – identification, understanding, analysis, and application of research information, methods, and data and communicating that information to a diverse audience of stakeholders.
The process of designing an evaluation/assessment plan requires students to conduct research in the related academic and professional literature and apply it to other organizational processes or policies, to think critically about what is most important to consider, how to develop criteria for organizational policies and practices, how to develop measurable research methods and data collection strategies that are valid and reliable, and how to communicate effectively both in the written word and through presentations to appropriate audiences.
There are important considerations when developing an evaluation plan. First, you’ll need to decide on which organization you are interested in using for the development of the evaluation plan. You will select one which ties into your MPA emphasis area and is a public or a nonprofit organization. For purposes of this course, it is best not to choose an organization in which you work. Why? What we have found is that when students select a policy or process at an organization, they are currently working in either as an employee or a volunteer, they tend to jump directly to the problem-solving section of the evaluation without taking the time needed to fully research options for best practices against which they could compare their organization’s policies and processes. In other words, students tend to think they already know what needs to be corrected in their organization without going through the various steps of a thorough evaluation.
Once you have selected the organization for which you would think an evaluation would be beneficial is to determine what type of evaluation you want to recommend. There are evaluations that examine what is being done to determine if it is the best use of resources, if it is meeting the expected outcomes, or if there are problems with how a policy is being implemented. The evaluation might be a requirement of a funding source, or it could be based on a regular rotation of evaluation that is a customary practice for some organizations.
Another essential element in beginning an evaluation is to consider the full extent of the problem if one has been identified. The problem might be defined differently depending on the stakeholders involved. And, sometimes, the problem that is identified originally might turn out to be only part of a much bigger problem or might lead to the need to investigate and evaluate other elements of a program or policy.
For our purposes in this course and in the MPA program, we have settled on an organizational evaluation of either an organization policy or an organization process as the final project because it will require your demonstration of the many skills needed in almost every aspect of our public administration practice. Organizational evaluations require critical and creative thinking, good research skills, the ability to identify evaluation criteria and to create the related measures, and the ability to communicate both the need for the research, the project’s needed data, and to communicate and act on the results.