U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Energy Analysis

Program Evaluation: Statement of Work

A statement of work (SOW) describes in detail the evaluation requirements that the evaluation contractor must satisfy. Program managers have a choice on the amount of scope detail that is provided in the SOW for an evaluation contractor. When used in combination with the request-for-proposal (RFP) process, the SOW will produce competition between evaluation suppliers on the research design and price of the evaluation. Step nine is to develop a statement of work and choose an evaluation contractor (learn more about the other steps in general program evaluations).

The following are some of the details typically found in an SOW:

  • The objectives of the evaluation

  • The evaluation questions and their priorities. If the evaluation will be an outcome or impact evaluation, these should include the types of direct and indirect outcomes to be evaluated (based on program theory and the logic model plus discoveries during the evaluation).

  • A requirement that the contractor develop Evaluation and Quality Assurance Plans, and a statement that they will be reviewed by outside experts in the field. The Evaluation and Quality Assurance (QA) Plans can be developed either as part of the contractor's proposal or after contract award. Evaluation and QA Plans developed as part of a proposal aid in evaluating the scope proposed by the contractor; however, they almost always must be updated after contract award. Therefore, post-award Evaluation and QA Plans should be required even if the proposal includes them. The Evaluation Plans must describe a task structure into which the evaluation research activities will be logically organized for performance and monitoring purposes. The QA Plans must cover data collection, analysis, and report-writing. Stipulate that the contractors' bids include resources for these plans.

  • Stipulate that lessons learned from previous EERE and other program evaluations must be incorporated into the Evaluation Plan. This includes expected interactions with other evaluation projects, if any.

  • Degree of initiative asked of bidders with respect to proposing defensible methodologies

  • Issues and proposed resolutions for potential problems that may be encountered, e.g., collecting data from states, treatment of attribution (for impact evaluations), use of savings ratios, dealing with potential survey non-response issues.

  • Reports and other deliverables required, including periodic performance and budget reporting for the evaluation process. One of the deliverables must be the Evaluation Plan. If the Evaluation Plan and draft evaluation report will be subjected to a peer review, state this so that the proposers' bids can take this review into account.

  • Consistency in the use of terminology and between requirements. If the RFP will use technical terms that a bidder may misinterpret, a glossary will help to reduce the number of follow-on questions.

  • Resources that the program manager will provide to the evaluation contractor such as records of outputs and outcomes, expenditure records, and access to program staff for interviews

  • Evaluation schedule and milestones.

Other requirements and information may be included if the program manager wants to specify greater detail about the evaluation's requirements:

  • Types of information required when answering individual specific questions, e.g., counts, averages, proportions

  • Required level of statistical precision for survey results

  • Required tests of significance for statistical relationships

  • Data-collection and analysis methodologies that you expect the contractor to use to answer specific evaluation questions.

  • Relevant guidance or references that will give the evaluation expert information about the requirements of Federal program evaluations, e.g., if the evaluation will be used to comply with PART requirements, the expert should be familiar with PART guidance documents. In particular, the expert should review the document, "What Constitutes Strong Evidence of a Program's Effectiveness?".

Sometimes contractor support is needed after the final report is accepted. This should be rare if the draft report was peer reviewed; however, program managers may also ask the evaluation bidders to propose time and materials rates to answer questions about the evaluation after the project is over.