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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.
“Country ownership” has become a buzzword in the development community, but what does it really mean? A country ownership approach has multiple interpretations to different actors, within different sectors, and for different countries. It’s time to unpack this rhetoric and bring understanding and evidence to the catch phrase.
A dozen years since it was set up with a remit to reduce global poverty through economic growth, the US government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation recently revealed a new Strategic Plan. Deputy CEO Nancy Lee joined me on the CGD Podcast to discuss how the new plan responds to a very different development landscape.
After more than a decade of operations, MCC has made the shift from innovative start-up to established donor agency. “MCC NEXT,” the agency’s new, much-anticipated strategic plan, takes a hard look at how the poverty and development landscape has evolved over the past decade and stakes out the position a more mature MCC should take in this new context.
It’s quite the buzz phrase: results-based development. But what is actually meant by "results"? Dr. Raj Shah, former Administrator of USAID under President Obama, and Michael Gerson, former presidential speechwriter and Assistant for Policy and Strategic Planning under George W. Bush, have reached across a generational and political divide to share their expertise.
Join Nancy Birdsall for a bipartisan conversation with Raj Shah and Michael Gerson on the future of US foreign assistance: what works, what doesn’t, why we should care, and what we should do to reform it.
Shah, USAID Administrator under President Obama, and Gerson, assistant to President George W. Bush for policy and strategic planning, are co-authors of “Foreign Assistance and the Revolution of Rigor” in the recently released second edition of Moneyball for Government.
Earlier this week, CGD president Nancy Birdsall testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a hearing on the Millennium Challenge Corporation. A main impetus for the hearing was the introduction this summer of legislation (S. 1605) that would enable MCC to pursue regionally-focused investments with eligible countries. The hearing itself, however, was wide-ranging, covering the “current operations and authority” of MCC.
Yesterday the US Senate voted to confirm Gayle Smith as USAID’s new administrator. Despite the rapidly expiring clock on this administration, filling USAID’s top post is critical for both the agency and for US leadership in global crises and development efforts abroad. The Syrian refugee crisis shows no sign of abating, just last week Liberia found new Ebola cases, and 700 million people still live on less than $1.25 each day. In all of these challenges (among many others), USAID is the leading US actor for response, prevention, and results.