The Directorate of Evaluation and Applied Research (DEAR) whose origin dates back to 1964 has had a long innings of more than five decades. The Department which was known as Economic Analysis and Research Division was originally under the direct control of the Finance Department, Government of Tamil Nadu functioning at Secretariat. In 1974 the Department which became a full-fledged and independent organisation was christened as the "Department of Evaluation and Applied Research" and put under the aegis of the Planning and Development Department. Since then the role and functions of the DEAR have become broad-based and the intake of Research Personnel into the Department was augmented. The original idea for creation of this department was to make it a “Think Tank” i.e. an institute organised for interdisciplinary applied research in multifarious social and economic problems in order to give a correct feedback about the realities existing at the grass root level to the scheme implementing authorities. The Department's research apparatus is put to practical use for utilitarian or contributory purposes in social and economic domains. It differs from academic or basic research. The Evaluation studies and socio-economic surveys conducted by the DEAR constituted the basic inputs with which many-policy decisions were taken course corrections. The Secretaries to Government in various Departments of Government of Tamil Nadu have availed the findings of the DEAR in the process of scheme implementation. When the scheme-implementing officials were confronted with any problem in the implementation process, they turned to the DEAR for solution to the problems encountered. In this sense Dear’s role is seen as a "trouble shooter’ and "power house" of new ideas.
History of this Department in Chronological order
Tamil Nadu is one among the few States in India having the privilege of having a separate department for programme evaluation. The development of this department in chronological order is given here under.
- An Evaluation Cell was created as early as 1964 under the Directorate of Statistics, with the mandate of undertaking evaluation studies of development programmes in the state.
- Subsequently, the Government of Tamil Nadu decided to transfer the Evaluation Cell from the Directorate of Statistics and bring it under the control and guidance of the Department of Finance (Planning) [Finance Dept. G.O. Ms.No.734 dated 26th May 1972].
- Further in 1974, it was decided to declare the Economic Analysis and Research Division of Finance(Planning) Department to which the Evaluation Cell has been attached since its transfer, to be a Department and the Director as the Head of the department (G.O.Ms.No.602 dated 27th April 1974, Finance(OP) Department.
- Since 2013, the Government of Tamil Nadu has initiated several efforts in the direction of institutionalizing evidence-based policy making. This department is striving to achieve the said objectives and Government has stepped in with the following initiatives to realise the set objective.
- a ) This department ‘s Evaluation Manual drafted in the year 2003, was redrafted keeping an eye on the latest trends in the evaluation methods and procedures. The draft Evaluation manual is under preparation and will provide a set pattern of standards and guidelines for design of Evaluation Study. Ultimately, this will ensure uniformity in tackling a problem, assessing the impact, diagnosing the dysfunctionalities in the implementation process and finding thrust areas on which the scheme-implementing authorities will focus their attention in future.
- b) The State Evaluation Review Committee in the State Planning Commission (G.O.Rt.No.111, Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Department dt.26.04.2013) was reconstituted as State Evaluation Advisory Board (G.O.(Ms) .No.78,Planning,Development and Special Initiatives (ST.2&E) Department dt.16.09.2015) with expanded functions.
- c ) In order to meet the growing needs for Evaluation in the Government for policy making, Outsourcing of Studies through a pre-qualified pool of empanelled institution is available through the State Planning Commission’s Panel on “Policy Research and Evaluation Studies”(SPC Order: proceedings No.1639/SPC (PC)/2015, Dated: 30.12.2015) has been initiated.
- d) Capacity building exercise for DEAR staff has been successfully initiated through J-PAL South Asia which is based at the Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR) in India.
- e) Under Tamilnadu Innovative Initiative Scheme (TANII), funds were sanctioned for implementation of E-evaluation System for digital data collection and is in progress.