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Sarah Rose is a policy fellow at the Center for Global Development. Her work, as part of the Center’s US Development Policy Initiative, focuses on US government aid effectiveness. Areas of research and analysis include the policies and operation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the use of evaluation and evidence to inform programming and policy, the implementation of country ownership principles, and the process of transitioning middle income countries from grant assistance to other development instruments.
Previously, Rose worked for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Mozambique as a specialist in strategic information and monitoring and evaluation. She also worked at MCC, focusing on the agency’s evidence-based country selection process. She holds a Masters degree in public policy and a BS in foreign service, both from Georgetown University.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC’s) board of directors is scheduled to meet on December 16. When it does, the members will vote on which countries will be eligible for MCC assistance for fiscal year (FY) 2016. As always, the board is faced with some hard decisions. Three conditions are notable during this year’s selection process: scarce resources, a new MCC selection process, and fierce competition among countries.
MCC’s model has received much recognition. However, since the agency controls just a small portion of the US foreign assistance budget, it alone has not fulfilled — and cannot be expected to fulfill — the founding vision of transforming US foreign assistance policy. Partly in response to the recommendations stemming from the 2010 Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) on Global Development, the larger agencies, especially the US Agency for International Development (USAID), have commendably worked to incorporate many of the same principles included in MCC’s model. For the most part, however, those principles are applied to a still-limited portion of the overall US foreign assistance portfolio. The next US president should continue to support MCC as a separate institution and support efforts to more thoroughly extend the good practices promoted in MCC’s model throughout US foreign assistance in general.
A new report from AidData and William and Mary is out, and some of its findings raise questions about the “MCC Effect,” the claim that countries enact policy reforms in order to become more competitive for MCC funding.
Our celebration of MCC’s tenth birthday continued last week with a thought-provoking open conversation with MCC CEO Dana J. Hyde. The well-attended public event, co-hosted by CGD and the Brookings Institute, was a fantastic opportunity to hear, from MCC’s own leadership, a reflection on the agency’s first ten years and a vision for the agency’s future. (If you missed it, you can watch it here.)
On Tuesday, MCC signed a $277 million compact with El Salvador. It’s been a long road to the finish line for El Salvador with over a year-long wait between compact approval and signing (most countries sign within a month of approval).
Next month, the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s board of directors will meet to select the set of countries that will be eligible for the agency’s large-scale grant programs. One of the decisions on the table will be whether to continue the partnership with the Philippines. Over the last year and a half, questions have emerged about whether the Philippines continues to meet MCC’s good governance criteria. In one month, MCC and its board will have to answer those lingering questions.
For some time, we’ve been cheering MCC’s interest in pursuing approaches that pay for outcomes and encouraging the agency’s stakeholders to get onboard (here and here). Now we can applaud an important step forward. The agency’s new compact with Morocco, which both partners celebrated at an event last Thursday in Rabat, spells out the potential for a results-based financing component—a welcome development.
Over the past decade, the US government has repeatedly committed to incorporate greater country ownership into the way it designs and delivers aid programs. Though a range of factors—including strong domestic pressures—influence foreign assistance, US aid agencies have taken concrete steps to strengthen country ownership in their programs. A new policy paper, The Use and Utility of US Government Approaches to Country Ownership: New Insights from Partner Countries, draws upon survey data from government officials and donor staff in 126 developing countries to explore partner country perceptions of 1) how frequently the US government engaged in practices associated both favorably and less favorably with the promotion of country ownership, and 2) how useful each of those practices was.
Earlier this week, CGD president Nancy Birdsall testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a hearing on the Millennium Challenge Corporation. A main impetus for the hearing was the introduction this summer of legislation (S. 1605) that would enable MCC to pursue regionally-focused investments with eligible countries. The hearing itself, however, was wide-ranging, covering the “current operations and authority” of MCC.