The Evaluation Capacity Network’s conversations with individuals across a number of contexts have unearthed the issue of “data burden” facing community agencies. Data burden arises when community agencies have numerous sources of funding, each with their own evaluation requirements. Meeting these evaluative requirements demands significant amounts of capacity (e.g. finances, expertise, and time) that are not always readily available. In addition, the process often yields information that is of little use to the organizations producing it. Despite this, evaluation remains a strategic priority for these organizations because successful future funding applications depends on it.
In an effort to reduce the issue of data burden in the public sector, the Monitoring, Evaluation and Impact (MEI) Partnership in the UK have recently released a call to action. They wish to start a conversation to…
"...collectively seek more dignified and meaningful ways of ensuring services provided in the community are both accountable to their funders and reflective of the needs of those who access them."
In particular, they wish to draw attention to the issue of community data burden and the increasing need for simple and dignified data collection. Similar to the ECN stakeholder dialogues, the MEI Partnership hosted 7 workshops with individuals from 68 community organizations and summarized these conversations in a position statement (released January 2016). The statement calls for community data practice that is proportionate and appropriate.