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The U.S. Marine Corps' Marine and Family Program Division (MF) portfolio includes a variety of programs and services that cut across a number of domains, including behavioral health, personal and professional development, and family readiness. Given increased emphasis on budgetary constraints and efficient spending, assessing the implementation and effectiveness of programs and services has gained significance. Program evaluation is the application of systematic processes for collecting and analyzing information about a program to determine the program's quality of operation and ability to meet intended purposes (i.e., effectiveness).

The goal of this document is to provide an introduction to program evaluation for MF program managers. Although some program managers may have experience with aspects of program evaluation, the process may be less familiar to others. Therefore, this document provides a broad overview of the process of conducting a program evaluation, including identifying program goals and core components, planning for an evaluation, operationalizing program evaluation measures, implementing an evaluation and interpreting results, and how to use the results of an evaluation for continuous quality improvement. For program staff interested in more detail about the process, this review provides a reference list of resources, as well as a series of worksheets that can be used to plan and implement a program evaluation.

A more detailed version of this guide, which includes a set of Excel worksheets that program evaluators may use to guide their own evaluation efforts, can be found in the RAND Marine and Family Division Program, Service, and Capability Evaluation User's Guide (Holliday et al., 2018).

This research was sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) Marine and Family Division (MF) and conducted by the Forces and Forces and Resources Policy Center within the RAND National Defense Research Institute.

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