With rigorous economic research and practical policy solutions, we focus on the issues and institutions that are critical to global development. Explore our core themes and topics to learn more about our work.
In timely and incisive analysis, our experts parse the latest development news and devise practical solutions to new and emerging challenges. Our events convene the top thinkers and doers in global development.
As the largest bilateral donor in the world, the US government can play a leadership role in pushing aid effectiveness principles and sustainable development practice. The past two administrations have interwoven, to varying degrees, a number of these principles into the reform agenda of USAID as well as new institutions and initiatives like the Millennium Challenge Corporation, PEPFAR, Feed the Future, and Power Africa.
CGD evaluates US efforts to implement these reforms and principles which include:
The principle of country ownership reflects the idea that local actors including governments, civil society, and the private sector should have a stronger leadership role in the formulation and implementation of development activities in their country. Country ownership is central to the approaches of MCC, Feed the Future, and Power Africa, while USAID and the State Department have increasingly focused attention on shifting a greater share of implementation leadership and responsibility to local actors.
Foreign Aid Transparency & Accountability
In recent years, there has been a major global push to increase the transparency and accountability of foreign assistance. The US government has the potential to be a global leader in aid transparency and accountability, but it has struggled to make progress on its international commitments.
Domestic Resource Mobilization
Domestic resource mobilization (DRM) broadly refers to the process of countries raising their own money to finance their development agenda. US government efforts to support DRM have focused on helping governments expand their tax bases, improve tax compliance, and increase the capacity of tax administrations. In addition to an emphasis on resource collection, current US efforts around DRM also emphasize the importance of the transparent and accountable expenditure of resources by governments.
Results or outcome-based aid has long been a key area of study for CGD. Compared to traditional models of US foreign assistance, these funding models shift attention from inputs to outcomes -- measuring and rewarding real progress, encouraging innovation and adaptation, aligning incentives, limiting corruption, and reducing waste of donor funds. Results-based aid approaches have shown promise in improving service delivery and country ownership.
Big cuts are likely coming to the State Department and USAID. So how can the US make the best use of fewer foreign assistance dollars in future? That was the subject of a heated debate at CGD earlier this week. CGD’s Scott Morris, the director of our US Development Policy Initiative, joined leading thinkers from across the political spectrum—Danielle Pletka from the American Enterprise Institute, Jim Roberts from the Heritage Foundation, and John Norris from the Center for American Progress—to discuss the best way to move forward with limited resources.
With major cuts to foreign assistance expected in the Trump administration’s budget preview later this week, CGD’s US Development Policy Initiative hosted experts from across the political spectrum to discuss what these cuts might mean. In a heated debate (well, at least for a think tank event), CGD’s Scott Morris, CAP’s John Norris, AEI’s Danielle Pletka, and Heritage’s Jim Roberts found a few areas of agreement, if more in the way of constructive suggestions to Congress and the Administration on ways forward.
When White House officials decided to talk publicly about a big boost in defense spending and big cuts for EPA, the State Department, and foreign assistance while still deep in their internal negotiation process, they did so for political reasons, making a direct case to voters devoid of any clearly stated policy rationale. It’s been encouraging, and even a little bit surprising, to see strong and quick statements of opposition coming from key Republicans in the Senate and House as well as the military community. But the reality remains that the White House has decided to politicize foreign assistance in a way that we have not seen for over 30 years.
It has been more than 100 days since the Modi government declared that the two largest denomination notes in India—the 500 and 1000 rupee notes—would no longer be accepted as legal tender. The announcement of “demonetization” had an immediate and sweeping effect on Indian households, which were no longer allowed to use the notes (outside of a few narrow exceptions) and were given less than eight weeks to deposit or exchange them.
Private sector development has long been viewed as essential for economic growth in developing countries, and the US role in promoting it has focused mostly on how developing country governments could best set a policy environment that made it possible. But let’s consider the risks of concentrating too heavily on the private sector. What could go wrong with an agenda that is centered on “deal making for development”?
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).
When people hear that a foreign aid program is paying for results, they can think about it in two very different ways. Some people think that paying for results is a way to control recipients, making them more strictly accountable to the people or organizations that are paying them. Others think that paying for results is a way to give recipients more autonomy and encourage them to be accountable to their beneficiaries (in the case of service providers) or their constituents (in the case of governments). It turns out that both perspectives are right—depending on just how the program that pays for results is designed.