MDI carried out the ex-ante evaluation of the Rural Development Programme for Mainland Finland 2014–2020. The evaluation concerned the process of developing a policy programme – the evaluation process allowed for refinements and improvements to be made to the programme drafts in a way that the programme objectives would be achieved in a cost-effective manner. The ex-ante evaluation project applied a developmental approach and was therefore performed before the programme’s implementation. MDI focused on improving the programme as a whole, including its design, its contents, the quality of its implementation and its effectiveness. With the evaluation, MDI also produced concrete and instantly accessible / exploitable knowledge for the ministry and different national stakeholders and for supporting the work of local action groups. The ex-ante evaluation was finalised in late spring 2013.