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This is a joint post with Rita Perakis.

The UK Department for International Development is getting down to real business on adopting results-based approaches to aid.  It will allocate future resources across country and regional programs  on the basis of “results offers”, as explained here. (DFID spends annually almost 3 billion pounds, about $4.5 billion, on these programs – exclusive of its allocations for humanitarian assistance and for support of multilateral programs.)  DFID recently wrapped up one step of the process, in which all country and regional teams set out their “results offers” for the period 2011/12 – 2014/5  (“indicative results teams proposed to deliver” ) for review and evaluation (and some sort of ranking we assume) by internal advisers and a panel including external experts. The reviews were asked to assess the extent to which the results offers are “realistic and evidence-based”. Now ministers will consider them as they determine their aid allocations for the next four years. According to an earlier press release the results offers will cover about 90 countries.

This is good news.  An agency and its political leadership are taking seriously the call for innovation in aid (through more results-based approaches) and are building on the ideas of country staff (who we hope are consulting with their counterparts in recipient country governments on the results offers). We hope that DFID will take this process one step further by publishing the proposed and final allocations, and information about the extent to which the final allocations actually reflect decisions about the merits of the results offers. (It’s ok if they don’t fully – the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation board has some discretion in treatment of country eligibility, but is transparent about why it selects the countries it does).

The DfID initative doesn’t surprise us. It is fully consistent with Secretary Andrew Mitchell’s call for foreign aid to be results-based and fully transparent.  DfID is already committed to undertaking at least three pilots of the approach we set out in Cash on Delivery Aid: A New Approach to Foreign Aid.

The bilateral review of the country and regional teams’ results offers is due out by March 2011. We look forward to seeing the ideas, understanding the process – itself a major innovation –  and, over time, evaluating the actual country and regional allocations against initial allocations, and against any subsequent adjustments (that are likely to make sense) as results on the ground vindicate or not the initial allocations.