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Cost-effectiveness analyses (CEAs) provide organizations with useful information for scaling or replicating projects. Calculating the cost-effectiveness of a program–for instance, dollars spent per additional day of student attendance at school–can offer insights into which programs are likely to provide the greatest value for money in given situations. When the calculations are done at a highly disaggregated level, with assumptions about unit costs laid out explicitly, it is easier to gain insights into which programs are likely to be the most cost-effective in a particular situation. Collecting detailed cost data is thus crucial to conducting CEAs and providing advice to policymakers on how they might best allocate limited budget resources. When organizations collect information on program costs, the goal is to use this information to illustrate how much a program would cost if it were replicated, and to facilitate more general comparisons among related projects.
However, it is often difficult to collect cost information as program budgets are insufficient to estimate these costs. Complete costing requires collecting information from multiple sources: academic papers or program reports for a description of the program structure, researchers and implementers for additional programs and costs, and public sources for components such as local wages and transportation costs. Correct costing also requires consistent and careful decision-making about which costs to include in the costing templates and analyses, and the application of the same methodology across multiple contexts and projects.
During this session, an international research and policy nonprofit will discuss: (1) challenges typically faced in collecting cost data, which include collecting data from multiple sources and making cost and program assumptions where data is not available; (2) tools and processes they have created to address these challenges; (3) strategies to effectively liaise with partners to collect and analyze cost data; and (4) approaches for sharing CEAs with partners that make the information accessible, actionable, and transparent.