Ideas to Action:

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US Development Policy


One outcome of the President’s Policy Directive on Global Development, which was released a little over one year ago, is the Partnership for Growth model.  It has been described as a framework for engagement designed to promote economic growth through a number of mechanisms, rather than an exclusive reliance on assistance.

Little has been revealed about PfG so far.  The 2012 budget identifies four countries participating in the effort – Ghana, Tanzania, the Philippines, and El Salvador.  And we have this press release where the model is described as representing “a departure from business-as-usual for both the United States and El Salvador.”  Additionally, “PFG is not a new initiative focused on improving a single sector, but rather a comprehensive proposal aimed at accelerating and sustaining broad-based economic growth in a selected group of countries.”

So what is the PfG model?  There are three components.  First, it works across government with teams from various agencies – State, USAID, MCC, Treasury, and Commerce.  Second, it works with PfG country experts to identify constraints to growth.  And third, the identified constraints to growth drive a joint country action plan that will likely include recommendations for policy reforms as well as assistance.

Inter-agency teams have been working with officials in all four PfG countries on constraints to growth studies, although some are further along than others.  For example, the above mentioned press release identifies two primary constraints in El Salvador – security/crime and low productivity in the tradables sector.

Could PfG be a model for how to be selective, focused, and effective across all U.S. development programs?  Perhaps.  But before that question can be answered, there needs to be more public information available.  Not only has little been made public about the model itself, but we have yet to see the constraints analysis (what is the cause of low productivity and what is included in the tradables sector?) or any joint country action plans, although I am assuming none of these have been finalized.

It is understandable that folks in the administration want to “get it right” before they talk it up.  But, it is difficult for the aid community to advocate for something that they know so little about.  Perhaps we could add a T for transparency somewhere?


CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.