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CECAN Press Release (15 September 2021): New Toolkit to Help Evaluate Complex Policies

Sep 15, 2021 | News

New toolkit to help evaluate complex policies

One of the country’s top research hubs for evaluating complex policies has published a new toolkit that could help government officials judge the effectiveness of their work.

The Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN), based at the University of Surrey, has published The Complexity Evaluation Toolkit. The document covers areas of complex evaluation, including key issues in commissioning, designing and managing an evaluation.

The toolkit draws from, summarises and builds upon concepts and guidance in the contributions that CECAN has made to the Magenta Book Supplementary Guidance (HM Treasury 2020) and the Complexity Evaluation Framework (Defra 2019).

The toolkit is aimed at those with some basic knowledge or experience of evaluation but who may need guidance on handling complexity. These professionals could include:

· Policy analysts in government

· Evaluation consultants in the private sector

· Evaluators working in NGOs and charities.


Professor Nigel Gilbert CBE, Director of CECAN at the University of Surrey, said:

“The UK, and indeed the world, is facing some grand challenges in the next decade – climate change being chief amongst them. These complex policy problems must and should be tackled on all fronts – from local to national government and all sectors of our economy.

“We believe our new toolkit will give guidance and reassurance to professionals who are crafting and making sense of complex policies, and we urge them to download the document.”


Notes to Editors

Launched in 2016, the Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN) receives funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and is hosted by the University of Surrey. CECAN has been transforming the practice of policy evaluation across the food, energy, water and environmental domains, to make it fit for a complex world. The Centre has achieved this through pioneering, testing and promoting innovative policy evaluation approaches with UK Government departments and other organisations.

CECAN’s goal is to help evaluators tackle the challenges of evaluating complex systems, through developing methods that help in understanding the causal mechanisms underlying changes in a particular complex system and the inherent uncertainty under which complex systems need to be steered. CECAN seeks to improve future policymaking by strengthening policy evaluation so that it delivers the knowledge needed to inform interventions.

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