NRN Self-Assessment Profiles
Germany (Programme NRN)
Germany has opted to operate its National Rural Network (NRN) on the basis of a programme document. The ex-ante evaluation of the German NRN programme (DE NRN-P) though questioned the suitability of the Common Monitoring and Evaluation Framework (CMEF) for the assessment of NRN implementation. While CMEF indicators were found applicable to EAFRD projects, the evaluator concluded that specific implementation indicators were needed for monitoring the performance of the DE NRN-P.
Assessment of NRN Performance
Baseline and target indicators established by the ex-ante evaluator facilitate the assessment of the NRN support unit’s (NSU) core function, i.e. the provision of a broad service offer optimising the conditions for the implementation of EAFRD projects. The indicator framework that was introduced comprises quantifiable targets (results) for outputs related to the NSU’s networking activities, in particular for activities 3 and 4:
- Identifying institutions, actors and networks in rural areas;
- Investigation of transferable innovative and/or proven practices;
- Organisation of exchange of experience and expertise;
- Development of training programmes for LAGs;
- Technical assistance for inter-regional cooperation and Trans-National Cooperation (TNC);
- Dissemination of information within the network (events, etc.).
Accordingly, the German NSU collects programme (i.e. network) specific quantitative data related to the above activities. Performance is assessed through comparison with the original baseline and target indicators.
In addition to the collection of quantitative monitoring data, the NRN support unit pursues, where appropriate, feedback and research activities, to perform qualitative assessments of its service offer. These include:
a) The collection of event participant feedback forms, contributing to the improvement of the content value of the continuous event service offer of the NSU;
b) Surveys concerning the magazine, the newsletter and the website are held in accordance with the provisions of the annual work programme. They take place at least once per programme period;
- A survey was held among subscribers of the ‘LandInForm’ magazine during spring 2010, opening the possibility for adjustments in response criticism and suggestions by the readership;
- The survey among subscribers of the newsletter ‘landaktuell’ in autumn 2009 was organized for the same purpose;
- The latest survey among the NRN’s website users in February 2007 concerned the Leader+ website, with a view to the features / services to be offered by the current NRN website addressing the 2007-2013 programme period.
Evaluation of the NRN-P
With quantitative data in most cases available, the mid-term evaluation fully applied the ex-ante evaluator’s quantitative indicator framework.
Furthermore, the evaluator developed eleven Evaluation Questions (EQ) specific to the NRN-P, complemented by altogether five judgement criteria definitions and nineteen quantitative or qualitative target indicators. The EQs relate to the NRN-P’s strategy and objectives and aim to provide evidence of NRN activities that take place in the framework of all EAFRD axes.
The mid-term evaluator introduced these, questioning the utility of the given common EQs and applied them, researching and formulating responses to the extent possible. The (timely) use of the newly introduced programme-specific EQs as part of future annual reporting exercises was recommended.