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US Development Policy


On November 12th, my colleague Todd Moss devised a grading matrix for the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR).  Now that the full document has been released, the two of us are donning our professors’ hats and reporting our final grades based on his original framework.

Todd's Grades

Connie's Grades

Answers – does it provide specifics on who really does what or does it punt the tough decisions? B- for taking more hard decisions than expected. The interagency process is still muddled, and the idea of ambassadors as CEOs seems like a third-best cop-out that will, I suspect, make matters worse. Creating a Bureau of Economic Growth at State is an awful idea. What business does State have taking that portfolio? FSOs are great at some things, but economic growth policy is not one of them. B-. Yes on FtF, no on GHI, and tentative on OTI.  Shows the hazards of Whole of Government turf battles.
Authority – Does it enhance USAID authority over development, or expand State’s reach? B+ here just for giving FtF to USAID. A pretty good first step. A-. Positive intent, but rebuilding USAID will depend on funding and authorizations.
Autonomy – Does USAID gain with regard to leading on policy, or is it relegated to implementing? D. I don’t see how USAID is in practice going to win any budget or interagency battles. Shah now has less influence on these matters than Fore did. A. Endorses steps USAID has taken with new policy, planning shop; elevating evaluation; and strengthening budgeting role. Will USAID in fact be able to lead? Depends on USAID asserting itself.
Access – Is USAID’s voice in the national security process institutionalized? C+. An improvement, but still unclear and at the whim of others. C. Role for Administrator in NSC structure not institutionalized. A future administration may not get it.
Extra Credit: Appointments – Does USAID have a full team in place? F. Two years in and you can’t be bothered to even name an Africa AA? Really? C. USAID is half there, but thwarted by burdensome vetting process by both State and White House.
Final Grade D. The document itself isn’t so terrible, but that’s almost beside the point now. The QDDR doesn’t fix the main dysfunctionalities that make US policy so confused and frustrating. Worse, the administration came in with such huge potential and high rhetoric but then wasted two years consumed by this process. The chance to really transform US development policy structure has been missed. Incomplete. Moving in right direction in many aspects, but I’m withholding a final grade until we see reality match rhetoric.


CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.