Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Working Groups and Commissions


CGD organizes working groups and commissions for a set period of time around a common effort to identify a practical solution to a specific problem. The groups draw strength from diverse experts who share a common interest yet typically lack the opportunity to engage in problem-solving conversations and forge joint solutions. Members serve voluntarily and, except in special circumstances, in their individual capacity. Group members encourage one another’s commitment to address a specific problem, for example, through changes in funding, policies, or program implementation.

Active Working Groups

Hospitals for Health Working Group
Despite their centrality to health systems worldwide, hospital policy and performance in low- and middle-income countries has largely been neglected by health policymakers and the development community. This working group will shape a strategic vision for a hospital collaborative that will aim to improve the performance of hospitals as contributors to health in emerging markets while strengthening their integration in the broader health delivery system.

Data for African Development Working Group
The quality, availability, timeliness and use of basic economic and demographic data to inform policy remain significant challenges across Africa. These challenges stem in part from limitations in technical know-how and qualified human resources, but also from the barriers created by misaligned political and institutional incentives within governments and persistent difficulties in aid coordination from donors. As a result there is a huge need for better examination of the political economy challenges faced by donors and countries. The African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC), based in Nairobi, Kenya and the Center for Global Development, based in Washington, D.C., have teamed up to address these major data challenges through this working group.

The Future of IDA Working Group
By 2025, the International Development Association (IDA) client base will likely be less than half its current size and almost entirely African, creating major implications for IDA’s operational model, future replenishments, its relationship with other multilaterals, and more. The Future of IDA Working Group will investigate the implications of these trends and offer recommendations as input to the IDA-16 Mid-Term Review in the fall of 2012.

CGD Working Group on Food Security
The Rome-based UN agencies play a central role addressing global hunger and food security but face tight budgets, politicization of hunger statistics, and worsening food insecurity in many parts of the world. The working group on Food Security and the Rome-based Agencies will make recommendations on how these agencies can work together more effectively and how member states can be more accountable for their actions related to food and agriculture.

Value for Money Working Group (April 2012 - September 2013)
As international commitments to health become more ambitious and aid resources become increasingly constrained, global health funding agencies want to improve the efficiency and impact of their investments. The working group’s new report, More Health for the Money: Putting Incentives to work for the Global Fund and its Partners, offers recommendations for how the Global Fund could get more out of their investments in health by focusing more on results, maximizing cost-effectiveness, and systematically measuring performance throughout its operations.

Development Impact Bond Working Group (May 2012 – October 2013)
The Center for Global Development, in partnership with Social Finance UK, established a working group to explore a new development financing mechanism called Development Impact Bonds (DIBs). The working group’s report, Investing in Social Outcomes: Development Impact Bonds outlines the potential benefits of DIBs as a new business model and new financial model for development. It explores six case study examples of DIBs, offers guidelines for technical considerations in the implementation of DIB pilots, and makes recommendations for the key groups who can lead the development of a DIB market: donor agencies, trusts and foundations, investors, governments of developing countries, intermediary organizations, and service providers. 

Priority Setting Institutions for Global Health  (June 2011 – June 2012)
In today’s global health arena where resources are limited and demands are growing, policy makers constantly face such budgetary dilemmas with little expert guidance.  The working group’s report, Priority-Setting in Health: Building Institutions for Smarter Public Spending, offers recommendations to overcome political and bureaucratic constraints and improve the allocation of scarce health funding.

Aid Priorities amid Declining Resources Working Group (October 2011 – May 2012)
A divisive political environment, slow economic recovery, and rising deficit make it difficult for U.S. policymakers to reach agreement on funding priorities. The report, Engagement amid Austerity: A Bipartisan Approach to Reorienting the International Affairs Budget – informed by the joint CGD and Center for American Progress (CAP) bipartisan Working Group – makes recommendations for more sensible priorities in the U.S. international affairs budget. 

Previous Working Groups


Working Group on Clinical Trials and Regulatory Pathways (October 2010 - October 2011)
The report of the Working Group on Clinical Trials and Regulatory Pathways provides practical policy recommendations to help deliver better, safer, and cheaper medicine and treatment to the 1 billion people suffering from neglected diseases.

Working Group on UNFPA’s Leadership Transition (August 2010 – April 2011)
The working group was convened to produce recommendations for the fourth executive director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The report, Focus UNFPA: Four Recommendations for Action, recommends that UNFPA needs to sharpen its focus on a limited set of outcomes related to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, including access to family planning. 


Advancing Africa's Private Sector Working Group Series (April 2009 – March 2010)
The Advancing Africa’s Private Sector Working Group Series was an effort to propose practical new ways of encouraging business growth on the continent. The working groups focused on the major constraints facing African businesses, including regulatory reforms and energy technology. The group’s report, A Doing Business Facility, was released in March 2010.

Global Trade Preference Reform Working Group (April 2009 – April 2010)
The group investigated ways to increase the development impact of programs that unilaterally offer preferential market access to developing countries, especially the poorest. The group’s report, Open Markets for the Poorest Countries, was released in April 2010; the report suggested ways that high-income countries and emerging powers can reform and coordinate their trade preference programs to better serve development objectives.

Drug Resistance Working Group (November 2007 – June 2010)
Drug resistance is a global challenge, affecting multiple diseases and recognizing no borders. Resistance to medicines to treat AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and other diseases is rising and threatens progress in global health. In its final report, The Race Against Drug Resistance, the working group recommended ways for the donor community and decision-makers in key development institutions to address this problem.

Preventing Odious Debt Working Group (June 2009 – November 2010)
Illegitimate regimes frequently saddle their countries with odious debt, burdening successor governments with repayment. A CGD working group convened to investigate whether ex ante loan sanctions could be employed to discourage this type of lending from happening in the first place. The group's final report, Preventing Odious Obligations, was released in November 2010.


UNAIDS Leadership Transition Working Group (July 2008 - March 2009)
The UNAIDS Leadership Transition Working Group used the first leadership transition at UNAIDS as an opportunity to take stock of an unusual organization. The group’s report, UNAIDS: Preparing for the Future, argues that it should press governments to uphold existing commitments and take on new commitments for prevention, care and treatment of HIV/AIDS that are grounded in scientific evidence and respect for human rights.

Migration Data Commission (May 2008 - May 2009)
Low quality and inadequate statistics on global migration make it tough to craft policies that help poor people. Yet better data could be gathered relatively easily. The commission’s final report, Migrants Count: Five Steps Toward Better Migration Data, tells how.

Performance-Based Incentives Working Group (February 2006 - June 2009)
Some performance incentives aim to improve provider behavior, promoting delivery of more and better services; others focus on household or patient behavior, to increase health service utilization or affect health-related lifestyle choices. How well do they work? The group’s final report, Performance Incentives for Global Health: Potential and Pitfalls, offers recommendations for donors and policymakers in developing countries seeking to broaden the menu of ways to improve health systems.  Early working group discussions influenced the World Bank's creation of the Health Results Innovation Trust Fund (HRITF).

Policy Principles for Expanding Financial Access Task Force (June 2008 - September 2009)
A very large proportion of households and firms in developing countries lack access to financial services. To help address this problem, CGD senior fellow Liliana Rojas Suarez convened, together with Stijn Claessens and Patrick Honohan, a task force of leading experts to identify 10 policy principles for expanding access to financial services. The Task Force Report was released in October 2009.

Private Sector Advisory Facility Working Group (Health) (November 2008 - December 2009)
Poor people in developing countries often receive health care from private providers yet donors and developing-country policymakers often overlook the sector, missing opportunities to improve care. The group final report Partnership with the Private Sector in Health, recommends creating an advisory facility to provide technical support to developing-country policymakers who want to engage the private sector to improve health outcomes.


Global Health Resource Tracking Working Group (July 2004 - May 2007)
The group developed recommendations about how to generate and report timely, accurate information about spending on health services and public health programs, within countries and by donor. The group’s final report is called Following the Money: Toward Better Tracking of Global Health Resources.

IMF Programs and Health Spending Working Group (October 2006 - June 2007)
The working group investigated the effects of IMF-supported programs on the health sector, with an emphasis on poor countries. The group’s final report offered recommendations for the IMF to ensure that national spending on health care is not constrained by IMF programs.

IDA 15 Working Group (November 2006 - June 2007)
In advance of the 15th replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA), the IDA 15 Working Group report - The World Bank’s Work in the Poorest Countries: Five Recommendations for a New IDA - proposed five


Evaluation Gap Working Group (September 2004 - May 2006)
The group developed practical recommendations to increase the quality and quantity of impact evaluations, with a focus on health and education. The final report, When Will We Ever Learn? Improving Lives through Impact Evaluation recommended the creation of an independent entity to coordinate and support high-quality impact evaluations. This led to the creation of the International Initiative on Impact Evaluation (3IE).

Global Health Indicators (February - August 2006)
The Global Health Indicators Working Group assessed the utility of a range of available data to construct indicators of health policies; the primary purpose was to inform decisions about eligibility criteria by the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation. Final report: Measuring Commitment to Health (PDF).

African Development Bank Working Group (July - September2006)
The African Development Bank Working Group prepared recommendations to help put the AfDB back on the road to success, at a moment of leadership transition. Recommendations included advising the president to identify and focus on a few key priorities on which the bank has a strong comparative advantage, such as regional infrastructure. Final report: Building Africa's Development Bank: Six Recommendations for the AfDB and its Shareholders.


Advance Market Commitment Working Group (March 2003 - April 2005)
The Group assessed whether a mechanism to increase market-based incentives to purchase a future vaccine product could be designed, and how it might work in practice. The final report, Making Markets for Vaccines: Ideas into Action, laid the groundwork for a $1.5 billion pilot for a vaccine to prevent pneumococcal disease, which annually kills some 3 million children in developing countries.

World Bank Leadership Transition Working Group (January - June 2005)
The World Bank Leadership Transition Working Group was convened toward the end of the term of James Wolfensohn to identify key priorities for his successor, Paul Wolfowitz. The final report was titled The Hardest Job in the World: Five Crucial Tasks for the New President of the World Bank. The tasks continue to be relevant.


Commission on Weak States and U.S. National Security (January - June 2004)
The Commission on Weak States and U.S. National Security recognized that weak and failed states matter to U.S. national security, American values, and the prospects for global economic growth. The commission outlined a framework for action that seeks to mobilize key actors and instruments in U.S. foreign policy to the task of meeting the threat of weak states.

What Works Working Group? (February 2003 - December 2004)
The central objective of the What Works Working Group was to document a series of programs in international health that were judged to be successful using a high standard of evidence. The working group closely examined possible international public health "success stories," assessed the quality of evidence about them, identified common factors that contributed to the successes, and documented the cases in a book, Millions Saved: Proven Successes in Global Health, which was later reissued by Jones & Bartlett as a textbook, Case Studies in Global Health: Millions Saved.