U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Avoiding Failures of Implementation: Lessons From Process Evaluations

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2009
16 pages
This paper, which is part of a multifaceted inquiry into failed criminal justice experiments, examines failures that have been caused by improper execution and omissions related to planning and implementation, rather than the design of the program or change undertaken.
Most of the programs whose process evaluations were examined for this paper are experiments in "problem-solving justice," which are court-based efforts to address the underlying problems of defendants, victims, and communities. The Center of Court Innovation not only conducted the process evaluations, but was involved in planning many of the projects discussed in this paper. Thus, this paper is also the center's self-reflection about mistakes made in the center's efforts at change and innovation. The format for presenting the "lessons learned" is to group the lessons under categories and then state and explain each lesson. The lessons under the category, "Engaging in Comprehensive Planning," are to have a shared vision and identify program goals; identify quantifiable objectives; plan to collect data; and formalize the program model. Under the category of "Identifying Key Stakeholders," the lessons are to be strategic about when and how to engage stakeholders in the planning process; and think about how to facilitate buy-in from line staff. Lessons for "Responding to Emerging Challenges" are to be realistic; beware of the temptation to overestimate caseload volume; and adapt the program in response to early implementation experience. Under the category of "Recognizing the Need for Leadership," the lessons are to designate a project director and find political champions. Appended brief descriptions of the programs evaluated

Date Published: June 1, 2009