Small Wars Journal

Assessing and Evaluating Department of Defense Efforts to Inform, Influence, and Persuade

Assessing and Evaluating Department of Defense Efforts to Inform, Influence, and Persuade by Christopher Paul, RAND Corporation

To achieve key national security objectives, the U.S. government and U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) must effectively and credibly communicate with a broad range of foreign audiences. These activities also represent a significant investment: DoD spends more than $250 million per year on inform, influence, and persuade (IIP) efforts. It is clearly important to measure the performance and effectiveness of these efforts, but assessment has remained a challenge for DoD. To better support IIP planners and assessment practitioners, this report presents a realistic but fictional scenario as context for a step-by-step example of how assessment planning should work in practice. In the process, it demonstrates several core principles of effective assessment articulated in previous RAND research, along with insights and best practices for developing assessments that can accurately measure progress toward campaign objectives and directly support decision-making.

Recommendations

  • Ensure that the objectives of an IIP effort are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound).
  • Break objectives into smaller subordinate objectives or sequential steps for a clearer picture of progress toward larger objectives.
  • Develop a logic model in reverse to avoid bad assumptions and identify possible constraints, barriers, disruptors, or unintended consequences. Begin by identifying objectives and work backward to identify the activities and resources that will support the objectives.
  • Be thoughtful in selecting measures: Choose multiple measures that will detect both success and failure and capture trends over time. Seek out existing sources of data to support the assessment and measure only as precisely as required.

Read the full research report.