Ideas to Action:

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CGD Policy Blogs


IMF Reform: How the Poor Man (That’s the USA) Had a Good Idea

IMF governance reforms were agreed the week before the G20 Summit.  One decision – to increase IMF resources but not by much – may matter for the IMF’s role in a still-unsettled Eurozone – if Ireland’s problem becomes Portugal’s and so on.

For a full and nicely balanced assessment of the reforms from Ted Truman, including on resources, go here.  Among other things, unpacks a couple of little-known and little-understood facts that are (though he doesn’t say so directly) about the role of the USA – the poor man with good ideas.

Efficiency: The Missing Link in Global Health

In a refreshing and necessary change from the last decade’s focus on more money, the 2010 World Health Report —released yesterday by the WHO—focuses part of its attention on the problem of health system inefficiencies, estimating that 20% to 40% of all health spending ($1.5 trillion USD) is currently wasted. The report indicates that this level of waste—a combined result of poorly used inputs and corruption/fraud—is of similar magnitude in both poor and wealthy countries.

The QDDR Pre-Release: Good Intent but the Devil’s in the Details

With the unofficial release of a consultation document on the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), we now have further indications of what will be in the final version scheduled for official release in December.  Until we see the final product, it is difficult to know if some of the laudable rhetoric surrounding the role of development and USAID will be matched by the concrete steps needed to turn it into reality.  As they say, the devil is in the details.

Grading the QDDR with the Five "A"s

After an 18-month process, the QDDR, laying out U.S. capabilities and the roles of the State Department and USAID, is due “soon.”  After so much anticipation and drama, I suspect the release will be an anti-climax. Nevertheless, I'm still keen to see what it says.  I’ll be judging the results based on a few broad questions: Does the QDDR move U.S.

Will USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives Transition to State?

This is a joint post with Sarah Jane Staats.

The long-awaited Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) of USAID-State operations has been nearly eighteen months in the making. We’ve heard bits and pieces about the process, the players, the substance, and timing. The latest rumor is that at least one last debate is occurring prior to its release: whether USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) or other types of humanitarian assistance should remain at USAID or be moved to the State Department. If true, this would fly in the face of the administration’s own rhetoric of rebuilding USAID and elevating development.

While it is unfortunately hard to know from the outside whether this debate is really occurring, ongoing, or has been decided, it’s important – even if only for the sake of argument – to explain why it matters that OTI stay at USAID.

1. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. While USAID and the administration are working hard to build the agency into the world’s premiere development agency, USAID is already considered the world’s premiere humanitarian response agency. USAID’s Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA) is the ER for disasters.

Sustaining Dutch Commitment to Development

This is a joint post with Julie Walz and originally appeared on The Broker Website.

The new Dutch government plans to cut spending on foreign aid from 0.8% to 0.7% of gross national income. Of course, by international standards, the Netherlands will remain one of the most generous nations when it comes to foreign aid: only a handful of countries even come close to 0.7%. Still, the prospective cut raises questions: Is the Netherlands shirking its responsibilities to the developing world?

We would answer: It need not, even if aid is cut.

Up Next on Obama’s Post-Election Road Trip: Indonesia (and the MCC?)

Post-midterm elections, President Obama is reacting in the same way Presidents Ford, Reagan, Clinton and Bush (43) did to the rough results: road trip!  Obama’s ten-day trip to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan shifts attention away from the domestic politics that ruled election day and onto foreign policy. His arrival in Indonesia could also throw the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) into the limelight.

Who Passes the Corruption Indicator? MCA Monitor Previews FY2011 Selection

The MCA Monitor’s annual corruption note is out, officially kicking off our coverage of the FY2011 MCC country selection season.  Take a look at the full note to see how all low income and lower middle income countries score on the MCC’s control of corruption indicator. Countries must pass the control of corruption indicator to be considered eligible for MCC assistance, making it the one so-called “hard hurdle” for MCC compact eligibility.