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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

“When Will We Ever Learn?” Mexico and Britain Take the Question Seriously

This is a joint post with Christina Droggitis

This May will mark the five-year anniversary of CGD’s Evaluation Gap Working Group’s final report, "When Will We Ever Learn: Improving Lives Through Impact Evaluation". The report noted a large gap in evidence about whether development programs actually work and recommended creating an independent international collaboration to promote more and better impact evaluations to close this gap. The International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) was formed as a result of this recommendation. The report also stressed the need for countries, both donors and recipients, to make larger commitments towards high-quality evaluation work. These commitments, it argued, should include supporting 3ie financially, as well as generating and applying knowledge from impact evaluations of their own development programs.

Development Policy of the Future… And Why We Aren’t Ready

This post originally appeared on devpolicy.org and devex and is based loosely on a February 10th talk at the Development Policy Center at Australian National University’s Crawford School and a March 1st speech at The International Development Research Centre in Ottawa..

The maxim that armies are always fighting the last war might just as aptly apply to development agencies: they are too often tackling yesterday’s problems with an outdated set of tools. If our development policies and agencies are to serve our interests, then we need them to both live in the present and prepare for the future. So, what then might development policy look like, say, a decade from now? What should we be thinking about now to get ready? Here are three big trends I think will be shaping the development future:

Ten Zero-Cost Ideas for Development Progress in 2011

A new year calls for a development policy wish list.  My wish list is about what the rich and powerful global actors– mostly but not solely in the United States – can do to improve lives among the poor and vulnerable around the world in the coming year.

Too Big to Succeed? Why (W)Hole-of-Government Cannot Work for U.S. Development Policy

This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

While talking beautifully about its development plans, the Administration is really not living up to its rhetoric of elevating development to equal status with diplomacy and defense, the so-called 3Ds. If development is really such an equal partner alongside defense and diplomacy, why is USAID increasingly a minor subcomponent of the State department? The promises of making USAID the “world’s premier development agency” are ringing embarrassingly hollow. How can an agency be influential when it doesn’t even control its own budget or set its own strategic priorities? Even in areas where USAID has traditionally been very strong—disaster relief and food security, for instance—the State Department has taken over. (The Feed-the-Future initiative is effectively directed by State and, despite early promises that USAID would lead on Haitian earthquake relief and reconstruction, it was recently leaked that a State coordinator is running the show.) And it should hardly be surprising that USAID is getting its lunch eaten in the interagency when it had no head for a year and, nearly two years in, still has less than half of its top managers on the job.

But what if the problems of the 3Ds aren’t really about the staff vacancies, the battle of Washington egos, and an empire-building State Department? What if the real problem is that the much-vaunted “whole-of-government” approach is fundamentally unworkable in the United States?

A New Home at USAID

Ruth LevineOn Monday, I will join USAID as Director of Evaluation, Policy Analysis & Learning. In this position, I'll be supporting initiatives that are already underway to apply the best available evidence to decisions at many levels, and to generate new knowledge as an integral part of the agency’s work.

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