Values and Principles of Program Evaluators

Essentially, program evaluators are individuals with diverse interests and the potential to embrace the evaluation of programs, services, products, technology, research, theory, and evaluation among others. According to Piccioto (2011), the disposition of programs evaluators is to work in the interests of the public and alongside the profession comes several distinguishing characteristics, professional principles, and standards. Ideally, when these particular standards and principles are employed, ethical issues usually surface representing an important consideration for the professionals. At the center of the evaluator’s values and principles, Frierson, Hood & Hughes (2010) note that organizational stakeholders also play a significant role in the evaluation process, which often presents unique challenges for them making it hard for the evaluators work. In light of this and based on “Fiona’s Choice: An Ethical Dilemma for a Program Evaluator,” we seek to understand values and principles that would be relevant to Fiona as the programs evaluator and the organization during the evaluation process, and considering AEA’s guiding principles for evaluators.

Systematic Inquiry

The systematic inquiry is normally conducted to ensure accuracy and credibility during the evaluative process are upheld. According to Morris (2011), the principle ensures that evaluators communicate their methods accurately and provides detailed information for others to understand. From the case study, it is clear that Fiona will be working on the evaluation to ensure that the needs of the people affected are met (McDavid, Huse & Hawthorn, 2013). In this context, it is important for Fiona and her counterparts to get all the relevant information to ensure accuracy and credibility.


Evaluators act in the best interests of the public and are expected to observe the highest levels of honesty when dealing with stakeholders concerning tasks, costs, the scope of results, and data among others. Before accepting any assignment, Morris notes that evaluators should disclose any conflicting issues, which might affect making the evaluation process. In the case of Fiona, it is clear that the proposals made by the commissioner have competing interests for her. Based on the principles of integrity and honesty, she should be able to express this issue so that it does not affect her evaluation. 

Responsibility towards the General and Public Welfare

Before undertaking any evaluation programs, evaluators must understand that they have a responsibility towards the public. According to Morris, evaluators must consider their actions and their broad implications and side effects to the public. The program evaluation that Fiona is expected to work is based on the best interests of the general public. Even though she does not agree with the decision of the commissioner, she should be considerate of the public welfare.

It is not possible to have principles and values that perfectly fit specific work of the evaluators. The guiding principles are also not in any way meant to constrain the work of the evaluators. Nonetheless, exceptions exist and for a good reason especially when it is a case of protecting the interests of the public.


Frierson, H. T., Hood, S., Hughes, G. B., & Thomas, V. G. (2010). The 2010 user-friendly handbook for project evaluation. National Science Foundation. Retrieved from

McDavid, J. C., Huse, I., & Hawthorn, L. R. L. (2013). Program evaluation and performance measurement: An introduction to practice (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Morris, M. (2011). The good, the bad, and the evaluator: 25 years of AJE ethics. American Journal of Evaluation, 32(1), pp. 134–151.

Picciotto, R. (2011). The logic of evaluation professionalism. Evaluation, 17(2), pp. 165–180.

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