Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

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April 12, 2017

The Foreign Assistance Agency Briefs: Introduction

The US Development Policy Initiative at the Center for Global Development launched the Foreign Assistance Agency Briefs for a simple reason. Foreign assistance is in the spotlight, slated for significant budget cuts during the Trump administration, yet it remains poorly understood. The series of five briefs contained here provide a snapshot of the primary US foreign assistance agencies. And while these agencies implement nearly 90 percent of US development and humanitarian assistance, there are twenty agencies in total that implement aid-related programs. Additionally, the United States has the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), which does not manage foreign assistance funds but uses other tools to catalyze private investment in developing countries.

April 11, 2017

Foreign Assistance Agency Brief: Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)

Since 1971, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has served as the US government’s development finance institution. OPIC works to mobilize private capital to address development challenges while advancing US foreign policy priorities—furthering strategic, development, economic, and political objectives. OPIC aims to catalyze investment abroad through loans, guarantees, and insurance, which enable OPIC to complement rather than compete with the private sector. The independent agency also plays a key role in helping US investors gain a foothold in emerging markets and is barred from supporting projects that could have a negative impact on the US economy.

March 22, 2017

Foreign Assistance Agency Brief: United States Department of State

State Department guidance underscores the importance of its work in furthering development: “The surest path to creating more prosperous societies requires indigenous political will; responsive, effective, accountable, and transparent governance; and broad-based, inclusive economic growth. Without this enabling environment, sustained development progress often remains out of reach.”

March 22, 2017

Foreign Assistance Agency Brief: United States Department of Treasury

Treasury’s Office of International Affairs works with other federal agencies, foreign governments, and international financial institutions to strengthen the global economy and foster economic stability. The United States’ international engagement through Treasury supports our national economic and security interests by promoting strong economic governance abroad and bolstering financial sector stability in developing countries. Through Treasury, the United States exercises leadership in international financial institutions where it shapes the global economic and development agenda and leverages US government investments, while tackling poverty and other challenges around the world.

March 22, 2017

Foreign Assistance Agency Brief: United States Agency for International Development

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is the lead US development agency, managing roughly $20 billion in annual appropriations. The agency operates in over 120 countries, including the world’s poorest and most fragile. Its work spans a wide range of sectors, supporting humanitarian relief, economic growth, health, education, and more. USAID’s broad remit reflects the agency’s mission: “We partner to end extreme poverty and promote resilient, democratic societies while advancing our security and prosperity."

March 8, 2017

Expanding Global Liquidity Insurance through Precautionary Lending: What the IMF Can Do

In the wake of the global financial crisis, the IMF undertook a series of reforms to its lending facilities to manage volatility and help prevent future crises. The reforms included the adoption of two new lending instruments: the Flexible Credit Line (FCL), introduced in 2009, and the Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL), introduced in 2011. They are meant to serve as precautionary measures—effectively, as insurance—for member states with a proven track economic record. Yet, the IMF’s precautionary instruments remain underutilized.

January 23, 2017

Shared Harvest: Temporary Work Visas as US-Haiti Development Cooperation

We estimate the economic effects of short-term work by a small sample of farmers from Haiti in the United States, where no US workers are available. We then compare these to the effects of more traditional assistance. We find that these work opportunities benefit Haitian families much more directly, and to a dramatically greater extent, than more traditional forms of assistance—raising workers’ current earnings on average by multiple of 15.

January 12, 2017

Implementing Ownership at USAID and MCC: A US Agency-Level Perspective (Brief)

This brief considers how the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) conceptualize ownership and apply the concept in practice. We focus on three pillars: ownership of priorities (the willingness and ability of donors to align their efforts with country priorities); ownership of implementation (the degree to which donors involve local partners in the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of programs); and ownership of resources (the degree to which a partner country contributes its own finances to the objectives receiving donor support).

January 5, 2017

Commitment to Development Index 2016

The Commitment to Development Index ranks 27 of the richest countries on their dedication to policies that benefit poorer nations. Finland takes first in 2016. The UK moves down three places to 9th while the United States moves up one to 20th. Switzerland takes last of 27.

November 3, 2016

Aligning to 2020: How FP2020 Donors Can Work Better, Together

In July 2012, world leaders gathered to reaffirm the right of women and girls to make informed and autonomous choices about their reproductive lives. To support the implementation of this right, country governments and donors committed to three actions: a new partnership to enhance accountability for progress—Family Planning 2020 (FP2020), an aspirational goal—120 million additional users of voluntary, high-quality family planning services by 2020, and $4.6 billion in additional funding, including $2.6 billion from international donors and the private sector.

October 31, 2016

A Smart Investment: $1 Billion for Promoting Women’s and Girls’ Economic Empowerment

The US has a unique opportunity to lead in improving economic opportunities for women and girls by establishing a global vision and a corresponding fund with significant financial resources to spur change. The next US administration should allocate at least $1 billion in additional resources—equal to a little over two percent of current US overseas assistance—exclusively dedicated to advancing gender equality in developing countries, with a specific focus on improving women’s and girls’ economic opportunities and outcomes.
Health Transition Memo cover
October 28, 2016

First Hundred Days for Global Health

Attention presidential transition teams: The first hundred days of the new administration should kick start an ambitious agenda in global health alongside long-needed reforms to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of US action. Building on our earlier work, we suggest seven priority actions within three broad categories.

Grading Power Africa cover
October 26, 2016

Grading Power Africa

Power Africa has the potential to be transformative for millions of poor people and be the single biggest legacy in Africa for President Barack Obama. Observers now have roughly three years to reflect on the initiative: on what’s progressing well, what’s not, and where future risks may lie. While it is still too early to provide a complete analysis of outcomes, this report card provides a timely assessment at the close of this administration and an input to the next one. While the judgments of Power Africa are largely positive, the coming months will be crucial to keeping the effort on a positive trajectory.

October 18, 2016

India’s States Increase Health Spending, But Will They Spend Effectively?

Since 2015, India has devolved an increasing share of its national tax yield to state governments and undertaken reforms to other kinds of centre-to-state grants. For many, the increased revenue via the tax devolution was considered good news but some health experts worried that states would give little priority to health under these conditions of greater autonomy. We find that at least two states, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, have much more to spend in general and are budgeting more for health in 2015-2016 as compared to previous fiscal years.

White House and the World logo
September 20, 2016

Maximizing USAID's Impact under the Next Administration

Since its establishment more than 54 years ago, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has expanded into an $18-billion-a-year agency, operating in over 145 countries and in nearly every development sector. But USAID is often constrained in its ability to adapt to emerging development challenges due to differing political priorities among key stakeholders and resource constraints. This memo is the result of a roundtable discussion in July 2016 on how the next US administration, in close concert with Congress, can build upon and maximize the development impact of USAID.

September 6, 2016

Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment through US Foreign and Development Policy

Women’s economic empowerment is increasingly recognized as critical to achieving development outcomes around the world. Informed by a roundtable discussion at the Center for Global Development (CGD) and additional suggestions from CGD researchers, this four-point memo aims to issue practical proposals for the next US administration, particularly aimed at economically empowering women and girls worldwide, as a building block toward the full realization of broader gender equality and women’s agency and empowerment. The recommendations build on those in CGD’s The White House and the World briefing book, as well as the CGD policy memo “A US Law or Executive Order to Combat Gender Apartheid in Discriminatory Countries” and ongoing work at CGD focused on women’s financial inclusion.

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