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This is a joint post with Casey Dunning

The MCC board of directors meets tomorrow. On the agenda: MCC’s selection process review, FY2011 budget cut impact, and potential reinstatement of the Niger threshold program. Not on the agenda (as far as I know): filling the two remaining public board seats.

Selection:

The MCC policy and evaluation team is reviewing the way it selects countries as eligible for MCC compacts. MCC is well-known—and unique—for its use of seventeen public, independent policy indicators that aim to measure a country’s commitment to ruling justly, investing in its people and economic freedom. After seven years in the business, MCC is taking a close look at the indicators, its decision rules, and ways in which the board exercises discretion to make final decisions about which countries are or are not eligible for assistance. MCC’s policy and evaluation team will give the board an overview of the types of things they are looking at and the timeline for making any changes to the current process (likely by the September board meeting).

As most of our readers know, the MCA Monitor produces an annual analysis of the MCC indicators and predicts which countries might be deemed eligible for MCC assistance. These analyses have also flagged some of the challenges facing the MCC’s selection process. (See our latest selection paper here.) Building on these, we’re taking our own look at the selection process. Among the questions we’re asking are:

  • Is the control of corruption hard hurdle necessary and relevant?
  • Should the so-called “democracy hard hurdle” (whereby the board tends to not select countries that fail the political rights, civil liberties, and voice and accountability indicators) be institutionalized and if so, how?
  • Should the investing in people category have six, rather than five, indicators so that all three policy categories have an equal number of six indicators? If so, what should they be?
  • Are there ways to address income bias in the indicators (i.e. countries with higher incomes performing better on certain indicators)?
  • How would any changes expand or limit the pool of MCC eligible countries?

Budget:

The final FY2011 budget deal cut $380 million from the MCC’s $1.28 billion budget request. The FY2011 request anticipated signing compacts with Malawi, Zambia, Indonesia and Cape Verde. The MCC board must decide how best to use the remaining $900 million FY2011 funds and where the $380 million cut will come from.  (See my analysis of how the budget cuts might affect the MCC’s pipeline, and most likely, compacts with Indonesia and Cape Verde.)

Reinstate Niger’s threshold compact?

According to the Federal Register notice announcing the upcoming board meeting,  the MCC will also discuss reinstating Niger’s threshold program. The MCC suspended Niger’s $23 million threshold program in December 2009 following former President Mamadou Tandja’s unconstitutional bid to remain in office beyond his second term. Tandja has since been ousted, and democratically-elected Mahamadou Issoufou has been leading Niger for four months.  Reinstatement of a suspended MCC program would be a first for the MCC. One also wonders how a reinstated threshold program in Niger would reflect the MCC’s new approach to the threshold program following important feedback and lessons learned from the MCC’s first threshold endeavors.

Vacant public board seats:

I remain concerned that two of the four MCC public board seats are still vacant. I first raised the issue of vacant board seats almost a year ago, again last September when three of the four seats were vacant, and in December when the board didn’t have any of the four public seats filled nor, as a result, the quorum it needed to meet.  I was delighted with the early January approval of Mark Green and Alan Patricof as two of the four public members, but have heard little about the two remaining vacancies and hope the MCC board, or congressional offices responsible for nominating the members, have something more to report on this soon.

As per the norm, the MCC will host a public outreach session following the board meeting. Stay tuned!