Scholars have long addressed the question of how to improve the usefulness of evaluation in the public sector. This article describes the role of evaluation within the Swiss Federation in order to investigate the conditions of evaluation use. The article is based on an examination of several offices in the federal administration. Evaluation within the Swiss federal administration shows great variety among the different units with regard to both the general understanding and the implementation of evaluation. These provide good examples for studying the relationship of purpose, utilization and institutional design in evaluation. Furthermore, decisions are often taken in the absence of basic considerations regarding the purpose or utility of the evaluation, and this substantially affects the subsequent institutional design of the evaluation. The authors recommend a clearer functional differentiation between different forms of evaluations as means for improving the evaluation measures currently used in and by the Swiss federal administration.