Stories about ASD

The Mystery of SB93

ASD Roadmap

Plan C, A, B, and maybe D

To establish the ROI, begin by finding documentation of progress

September 19, 2019


In the ideal world, a clear record of progress is only a few keystrokes away.... maybe a simple internet search for the name of proposed project, or a quick scan of lead agency's website. Under the best of circumstances, these bring you to a summary of the project that meets the following criteria:

  1. The project clearly addresses the principal goals set out in the original funding proposal.
  2. The project offers a rationale - what outcomes are sought, why these are important - that makes sense to the reader
  3. The project describes the methods used to bring about change, ideally in enough detail to imagine replicating the project.
  4. The project sets specific and measurable goals that reference the state of affairs at the outset of the project, ideally including projections of progress tied to implementation benchmarks at intermediate steps.
  5. The project includes regular updates about the progress that has been made (i.e., citing measurable movement towards the project's goals relative to the implementation benchmarks), if the project has been underway for a reasonable period of time.

I have relied on similar checklists throughout my career whenever I have been responsible for making important decisions about which new methods or programs to adopt or which programs to discontinue. If all of the relevant standards are met, determining the ROI is a relatively logical process.  Let's call this Plan A.

Alas, this process is rarely so logical in the real world! I have found the record of clear progress is often remarkably difficult to find, which has led me to wonder how often funders rely on such records when making decisions. So I have come to rely on a Plan B: if I cannot evaluate the ROI based on the outcomes reported in 5, I might begin to base decisions on the strength of the plan described in 1-4.

Plan B is based upon the assumption, however, that a complete summary of the project (i.e., that references 1 to 4) is publicly available. I have found that even the most basic information about a project can be difficult to find (for other reasons described below). This is the case for SB93: little relevant information on its activities and whatever progress it might have achieved - if any - is readily available to the public (there is some other relevant information to be found for those ready to do a lot more legwork, although this raises other important questions about how progress is defined).  Hence Plan C - first establishing whether any information referenced in 1 to 4  is available - before we can even consider a Plan A and B.



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