2.9. Evaluation risks

This section should articulate the risks or limitations that the evaluation faces, not the risks of the program in general. If significant mitigatable risks are identified, the risk assessment plan will help program managers to implement appropriate controls.

In terms of risks associated with the accuracy of the program logic, one way to combat potential overconfidence and realistically assess risk is to imagine program failure and then think through how that failure would happen.[1] It may also be useful to review previous evaluations from a similar program to identify lessons learned and how they may apply to this evaluation.

Risk categories may include: stakeholder engagement and support, technology, data, funding, timeframes, regulatory or ethical issues, physical or environmental issues.

Table 14: Example risk assessment plan
Description ConsequenceAnalysis*Current control
LikelihoodConsequenceRisk rating
Poor stakeholder participation in research The evaluation would lack descriptive information about perceptions Possible Moderate Moderate A variety of intercept surveys, focus groups, telephone, internet-based surveys and information conversation methods will be used to encourage maximum stakeholder participation

*Use the likelihood and consequence rating matrix in the Evaluation work plan template. Choose one of the following to define the likelihood of the risk occurring.

Table 15: Risk likelihood challenges
RatingDescription
Rare may only occur in exceptional circumstances
Unlikely is not expected to occur
Possible could occur at some time
Likely would probably occur in most circumstances
Almost certain is expected to occur in most circumstances

Choose one of the following to define the consequence if the risk occurs.

Table 16: Risk consequence categories
RatingDescription
Negligible the consequences are dealt with by routine operations
Low impacts on a limited aspect of the activity
Moderate moderate impact on the achievement of goals/objectives
High high impact on the achievement of goals/objectives
Extreme significant impact on the achievement of goals/objectives

Use the likelihood and risk rating to determine the overall risk rating. Those that are high or extreme are likely to require closer monitoring than those that are moderate or low.

Table 17: Overall risk rating matrix

likelihood and consequence matrix


[1] M. K. Gugerty, D. Karlan, The Goldilocks Challenge: Right Fit Evidence for the Social Sector, New York, Oxford University Press, 2018.

Last updated: 14 December 2020

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