Checking to see whether or not, or the extent to which, an intervention’s intended results were achieved is performance audit, review, research, etc. Evaluation is about valuing, independently of what the stated goals may be. Evaluation is, among other things, finding out what the intervention is actually doing and using a valuing frame that draws on those of the claims and rights holders, social and climate justice, considerations relative to the climate and bio-diversity breakdown, etc.
    So one way to think about the “goal free” question is as an attribute of independence, of which there are a few. It is also useful to distinguish between independence, impartiality and autonomy of evaluative considerations, including evaluative thinking and reasoning.
    Can this be done in practice when commissioners of evaluations hold most of the cards and are by definition partial? Yes, sometimes, if you have the stature & gravitas and/or are independently wealthy.
    One of the raison-d’être of the Academy is to support and catalyze what it calls “evaluator directed” evaluation, meaning evaluation that is truly independent.