Cost Transparency Initiative
Cost evidence is essential for policymakers to decide how to allocate scarce resources across impactful programs. Yet, fewer than one in five impact evaluations integrates cost evidence—such as by including a cost effectiveness analysis (CEA) or cost-benefit analysis (CBA) of the evaluated program (Brown and Tanner, 2019). Available cost evidence is often maligned because of poor underlying data quality, lack of methodological rigor, and insufficient transparency in the reporting of methods and assumptions. The lack of attention to costing from researchers limits the influence of impact evidence by making it less relevant to decision maker’s concerns.
CEGA’s Cost Transparency Initiative (CTI) works to address this challenge by studying and improving the “market” for producing and using cost data, establishing “best practice” methods and tools, and building sustainable research capacity for producing cost evidence. Through these channels, the CTI aims to improve and scale the use of high-quality cost evidence in impact evaluation research.
Study and improve “the market” for producing and using cost data
- CEGA leverages policy connections in low-and middle-income countries—for example, through CEGA’s EASST network and affiliate research carried out in collaboration with government ministries—to better understand what type, format, and timing of cost evidence decision-makers need.
- CEGA works to change funding and publishing norms, taking inspiration from the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS), which has helped drive adoption of open science practices (e.g. pre-analysis plans) by working closely with journals and funders.
- CEGA hosts the Cost-ober Webinar series to explore the role of cost evidence in global development research (see full recordings of our 2020 and 2021 events).
- CEGA publishes blogs on the cost evidence ecosystem (See “How donors can support the development of cost evidence in impact evaluation research“)
Establish “best practice” methods and tools
- CEGA builds field-level collaboration through our Costing Community of Practice (CCoP) and develops tools that make it easier and more efficient for research teams to collect and report primary cost data in the context of conducting an impact evaluation.
- CEGA conducts economic evaluation of selected programs under evaluation by CEGA affiliated researchers.
Build sustainable research capacity
- CEGA trains visiting fellows from the East Africa Social Science Translation (EASST) Collaborative in the rigorous economic evaluation of international development programs and provides practical guidance and tools to integrate economic evaluation into their research plans.
- CEGA seeks to build a template for an open policy analysis (OPA) of cost-effectiveness studies in partnership with BITSS to explore ways of transparently communicating cost parameters, assumptions, and sensitivities in conjunction with cost-effectiveness analysis.