Last night, the US Senate finally confirmed Dana Hyde as the MCC’s next CEO, along with two private board members. While this has taken far too long, the MCC has been in very capable ‘interim’ hands. As with any CEO transition, there is now an opportunity to advance legacy ideas. And the timing couldn’t be better. The MCC finds itself at a moment of self-reflection. It recently turned 10 years old and is in the process of developing a new strategic plan. The stage is set for the MCC’s leadership to chart an ambitious course that spans the remainder of the Obama Administration and lays the groundwork for whoever comes after.
I laid out a number of quick and dirty priorities when the previous MCC CEO announced his plan to move on last September. Currently, the CGD Rethink team is finalizing a new MCC@10 series. This comprehensive work examines how well the MCC has delivered on its founding principles and how it could be further strengthened in the years ahead. It will be an important contribution, so please watch this space. In the meantime, here is my updated list of quick and dirty priorities:
(1) Continue Leading on Transparency, Evaluation, and Learning: The MCC is the most transparent aid agency in the world. It is light years ahead of other USG agencies in terms of publishing programmatic and financial data, both on its website and in IATI format. The MCC also is a global leader in its commitment to conducting rigorous evaluations and publishing their results. This kind of openness and honesty should be continued at all costs – and recognized by outsiders.
(2) Explore Ways to Better Crowd in Private Capital: The MCC has been thinking about this issue for some time now. But, fresh blood should come with fresh ideas, even if the new CEO doesn’t have a deep business background. There’s no question that MCC compacts could be structured to better unlock private co-financing – particularly for large infrastructure projects.
(3) Bring Clarity to the MCC’s Role in Middle-Income Countries: It is hard to justify why the MCC should provide grants to investment-grade countries like Morocco or the Philippines. While the US needs to make friends in the world, there are different tools for different needs. If the MCC is bent on keeping its middle-income country operations, then it should at least introduce differentiated financing terms.
(4) Press Ahead with Pay-for-Performance Approaches: The MCC has been very forward leaning in exploring outcome-based aid models. This is a natural for the institution. It already bases country eligibility upon policy performance, as measured by transparent, third party data. So, why wouldn’t the MCC also base a portion of program disbursements upon outcome performance, which is independently verified? This is the future and the MCC model is perfectly designed to embrace it.