Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

This is one of seven MCC at Ten papers and briefs.

Summary

When MCC was founded, there was widespread skepticism about the effectiveness of foreign assistance. Many observers, both external and internal to development institutions, agreed that too much aid was being spent on poor projects in service of poorly defined objectives with correspondingly little understanding of what these funds were achieving. As a result, between 2002 and 2004, when MCC was being created, there was bipartisan support for the new agency to focus on achieving measurable results.

In practice, the broad idea of measurable results fairly quickly became operationalized by MCC as raising local incomes. The MCC model sought to enhance the impact of foreign assistance projects by focusing on this single, measurable objective—poverty reduction through economic growth. While this goal could be achieved through many kinds of activities, MCC committed early on to funding only those that would achieve this objective in a cost-effective way. That is, investments should be expected to raise local incomes by more than the total cost of the program.

Overall, MCC’s approach to results is designed to increase the effectiveness, transparency, and accountability of how foreign assistance is delivered, such that more programs would succeed. Equally important, for those programs that fall short of expectations, better understanding and documentation of why they deviated from expected results would help improve future investments.

This paper looks at how well MCC has actually deployed each of its main approaches to results. Based on our review, we have concluded that MCC’s Framework for Results is an important feature that should be preserved and is worthy of emulation by others. Indeed, during its second decade and beyond, MCC should strengthen its adherence to the results-focused policies and practices that make it such a distinctive donor.

Related: Focus on Results: MCC’s Model in Practice (brief)

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