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The White House and the World: Practical Proposals on Global Development for the Next US President

briefing book


Erin Collinson
Policy Outreach Associate
Beth Schwanke
Senior Policy Counsel 
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View CGD's memos for the presidential transition teams on proposals to improve US development policy that we hope the next president will prioritize once in office.

In this series of briefs, edited by Ben Leo and Nancy Birdsall, Center for Global Development experts present concrete, practical policy proposals that will promote growth and reduce poverty abroad. Each can make a difference at virtually no incremental cost to US taxpayers. Together, they can help secure America’s preeminence as a development and security power and partner.

Supplemental White House and the World Content
These memos stem from expert roundtable discussions on global health, women's economic empowerment, and USAID:

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The White House and the World: Practical Proposals on Global Development for the Next US President

In this series, we present more than a dozen concrete and practical policy proposals — ranging across trade, energy, migration, investment, and climate policy, as well as greater effectiveness of US foreign aid programs — that will promote growth and reduce poverty abroad.

Development Finance
  • Establish a full-service, self-sustaining US Development Finance Corporation (USDFC) that delivers development results, advances US foreign and commercial policy objectives, and reduces the federal deficit through modest operating profits.
  • Implement reforms to ensure that the USDFC (1) crowds in private capital and demonstrates clear “additionality,” (2) publicly reports on its development impact, and (3) has flexible portfolio and staffing levels to adapt to shifting investor needs.
  • Negotiate a US-Mexico bilateral labor agreement to manage low-skill migration.
  • Appoint a US government lead for advancing labor mobility as a development tool.
  • Launch a Global Skills Partnership pilot that addresses US skill shortages and expands trained workforces in developing countries.
  • Reinvigorate the multilateral rules-based trading system.
  • Ensure that regional trade agreements explicitly support development outcomes.
  • Strengthen unilateral trade preference programs for poor countries.
  • Create a Joint Trade Policy Unit to address the nexus of trade and development.
  • Protect and increase tax revenues by implementing multilateral automatic information exchange.
  • Tackle money laundering and corruption by requiring public registries of corporate beneficial ownership.
  • Support good governance in developing countries by implementing Dodd-Frank Act Section 1504.
  • Continue to lead by implementing the recommendations of the International Aid Transparency Initiative, Open Government Partnership, and adopt open contracting standards.
  • Direct USAID to pilot micro-incentive programs targeted to improve the condition of women.
  • Use trade and investment agreements to promote gender equality in the workplace.
  • Revise US migration and refugee policy to address the challenges of statelessness and gross discrimination.
Tropical Forests
  • Implement pay-for-performance financing models that reward successful efforts to reduce deforestation.
  • Encourage state-level innovation within existing regulatory systems.
  • Advance targeted policies that support existing private sector–led initiatives.
energy access
  • Strengthen the Power Africa Initiative through a multiyear congressional authorization with clear authorities.
  • Reform the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) or establish a modernized US Development Finance Corporation to catalyze and harness private capital for energy development (see related proposal — Bringing US Development Finance into the 21st Century).
  • Ease restrictions on countries that are most energy poor but least responsible for global emissions.
  • Upgrade to a realistic definition of modern energy access.
Global Public Goods
  • Increase domestic investment in research and development (R&D) for renewable energy, agriculture, and health.
  • Track and publish federal spending on development-relevant global public goods.
  • Establish a target share of foreign assistance spending to be directed toward development-related global public goods.
  • Use US leadership role in the World Bank to champion creation of a global public goods lending window.
Middle East
  • Reform US security assistance to target challenges identified by regular threat assessments, incorporate partner commitments to institutional reform, and promote civilian oversight through increased transparency.
  • Establish a Middle East and North Africa Fund to address constraints to economic growth in countries that demonstrate a willingness to tackle reform.
  • Elevate and amplify local voices pushing for reform in the region by mobilizing international support, sharing technology, and supporting a marketplace to connect activists with lawyers, strategists, and other service providers.
  • Institute a top-to-bottom review of USAID’s sector- and country-based activities based upon program effectiveness, allocation of USAID resources, alignment with partner priorities, and national security implications.
  • Commit to implement a comprehensive reform agenda based upon the review’s findings.
  • Provide USAID budgetary and policy primacy over areas in which the agency demonstrates efficacy and focuses its programmatic and staff resources.
  • Expand the proportion of US foreign assistance subject to MCC-type aid-effectiveness principles, while increasing the proportion of flexible funding that is not subject to congressional directives or administration initiatives.
  • Further strengthen the implementation of key aspects of MCC’s model, such as the commitment to cost-effective investments, advancing transparency efforts, and learning from ongoing and completed programs.
  • Pilot new approaches, such as outcome-based aid and regional compacts that address cross-border growth constraints.
  • Experiment with impact-based agreements to align policy, funding, and actions to drive progress toward an AIDS transition, with attention to rights and gender issues.
  • Measure what matters — new infections and AIDS-related mortality — to achieve maximum value for spending through better targeting and alignment of financial support with countries’ own financial commitments and progress on prevention and treatment.
  • Create incentives for co-financing by committing to a floor of support in hard-hit countries and developing matching funds for each additional person tested or on treatment.
Global Health
  • Appoint US global health leadership with the mandate, budget alignment, and political support to enforce interagency collaboration.
  • Harmonize the approach to multilateral organizations to ensure consistency of priorities and objectives.
  • Establish an office of Global Health Trade, Economics, and Knowledge Exchange responsible for sharing US health-care know-how with policymakers and businesses in developing countries.
  • Establish a Development Impact Fund to pilot outcome-based aid models with 10 percent of existing development agency programmatic budgets.
  • Increase the share of funding spent through outcome-based funding models within USAID, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and other US development agencies.
  • Establish a multilateral assistance target (e.g., 20 percent of total US foreign assistance).
  • Conduct a multilateral aid review and reallocate scarce budgetary resources to effective institutions that advance US policy objectives.
  • Improve budgetary and policy coordination mechanisms within the US government to ensure coherent decision-making about multilateral funding levels.

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