1 . The Programme Committee, at its 82nd Session, approved the Secretariat's proposals for a new evaluation system intended to serve the Organization's needs for managing programmes in the context of the Strategic Framework, the Medium-term Plan and the application of the new programme model. The new evaluation system's key features include a focus on strategically-oriented programme and thematic evaluations respecting corporate priorities and applying established assessment criteria. It also implies more systematic participation of the Governing Bodies in the evaluation process, especially by the Programme Committee, as the prime recipient of evaluation reports, in reviewing the evaluation work of the Organization and reporting to the Council and the Conference.
2 . This issue of the Programme Evaluation Report (PER) is the first under the new system, containing evaluations and reviews of:
3 . These subjects were selected in consultation with the Programme Committee, which has reviewed and commented on these evaluations and reviews during the biennium. Thus, the PER contains, as envisaged in the new system, summaries of the original reports considered by the Programme Committee together with the comments of the programme managers and/or senior management, as well as excerpts from the relevant reports of the Committee. In addition, the comments of external review panels are published as applicable. While the PER is now a briefer document, which has the advantage of readability, it does not prevent those interested in examining the original more detailed reports as they are accessible in the FAO Internet (http://www.fao.org/pbe). It is hoped the new format facilitates effective dialogue on the performance of the Organizations work as well as creating a greater sense of management transparency in the Organization.
4 . In examining the evaluations and reviews contained in the report, the Programme Committee highlighted several matters dealing with evaluation methodologies:
5 . In fact, many of these issues were progressively addressed by the Evaluation Service during the biennium such that the Committee concluded that the evaluation of FAO's Policy Assistance was considered to be a model for future evaluations in the context of the Strategic Framework and the Medium-term Plan. It recorded its appreciation of the evaluations strategic and forward orientation as well as its in-depth, frank assessment and well-focussed recommendations. The Committee felt that the use of external expertise in the form of independent consultants and a peer review panel strengthened both the quality and the credibility of the evaluation.
6 . The intention is to further take into account these comments to the maximum extent practical in future evaluation work, keeping in mind the need to ensure its overall cost-effectiveness. At the same time, it needs to be recognized that evaluation in the context of the Organizations management is in a transitional stage and that optimal methodologies will have to evolve over time, in conjunction with improvements in the planning approach and sound development of monitoring and assessment by programme managers throughout the Organization, as envisaged in the proposed auto-evaluation system. This will involve many challenges, involving steady efforts over time.
7 . By way of drawing lessons from the issues and recommendations stemming from the individual evaluations contained in this PER, the following are noteworthy:
8 . Finally, notwithstanding the critique provided above, from the substantive viewpoint, the evaluations confirm the validity and usefulness of FAO's work in all of the areas which have been addressed in this period. It is expected that the contributions that FAO makes in each area will be enhanced as the implementation of the various recommendations takes effect.