Personnel supplied with tools to plan, design, monitor, and evaluate Department of State programs.

What’s the issue?

Bureaus and posts across the Department of State develop strategic goals and objectives through a planning process, and are asked through several annual reporting requirements to convey the progress and lessons learned towards their strategic objectives.


Program managers at the Department of State needed a customized set of program planning tools to help them plan, design, monitor, and evaluate their programs, projects and processes.  The tools needed to be broad enough to accommodate the variety of the Department’s responsibilities and functions and specific enough to guide the uninitiated through the process.

What was the intervention?

In strategizing how to fulfill the Secretary of State’s vision for strengthened planning and performance management in the 2015 Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), Department leadership identified a need to provide program staff with a set of tools to help them to systematically link existing strategy to program conduct rigorous program design, and then monitor and evaluate performance. 


The Department of State tackled this problem by engaging personnel with expertise in the planning, managing, monitoring, and evaluation of programs and asking them to take stock of existing practices in the Department.  The team was then charged with designing an accessible set of tools, disseminating the resulting product and training staff in their use.  The research phase uncovered some existing tools already being used by certain bureaus to support their portfolio of activities, as well as some gaps.  These discoveries were incorporated into the toolkit.  The toolkit design phase yielded a 5 section manual that links programs to existing strategy, integrates contextual factors into program design, supports the construction of logic models, guides users on creating performance indicators and supports learning.  


From there, the Department planned a multi-tool and multi-stage information campaign to spread the word about the new tools.  The team launched an internal one-stop-shop website to house the new tools, arranged briefings to explain how the tools would support the unique needs of different bureaus, and struck up conversations with grant managers about how the toolkit could strengthen their work.  This work was followed by the development of a new course designed to build the Department’s capacity in performance management,

How was performance management useful?

The Department made planning and performance management a priority in the 2015 Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review.  While individual bureaus were already developing tools that they need for specific purposes, the increased attention conferred by the QDDR provided the momentum the Department needed to rapidly develop a comprehensive set of tools.  Regular meetings including personnel from different bureaus helped bridge differing perspectives on the essential elements of a toolkit such that research, design and production was completed in less than a year.

What was the impact?

In under a year the Department equipped staff working in a wide variety of specialties with the tools to plan, implement, monitor and measure the performance of their programs.  In doing so it balanced the need for flexibility and standardization and paved the way for future tools that will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of its programs, projects and processes.