Ideas to Action:

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CGD Policy Blogs


Nancy Birdsall on Cash on Delivery (COD) Aid

Nancy Birdsall A little over a year ago, I invited Nancy Birdsall, founding president of the Center for Global Development, to join me on the Wonkcast to talk about her big new idea, Cash on Delivery Aid (COD Aid), an innovative approach to the delivery of foreign assistance. COD Aid has since gained a lot of traction, so I invited Nancy back to update us on recent developments, including a planned pilot program in Ethiopia.

A Conference Call with CFR: What Students Are Asking

Today with Francis Fukuyama, I participated in a Council on Foreign Relations “Academic Conference Call” (listen here) with undergraduate and graduate students from over 40 universities.  We answered questions about our March/April Foreign Affairs article, The Post-Washington Consensus: Development after the Crisis.  (The article is based on a book due out any day now from Johns Hopkins University Press:  New Ideas on Developm

Getting Better Contest Winner

At the launch for my new book Getting Better: Why Global Development is Succeeding, And How We Can Improve the World Even More, Nancy Birdsall announced a twitter competition –tweet what was getting better and win a copy of the book.   We had a number of entries to #gettingbetter in response, including:

Cash on Delivery Counts on Counting

This is a joint post with Rita Perakis.

“But we want them to begin counting.” This is the key line in Tina Rosenberg’s column today on Cash on Delivery Aid, where she responds to comments on her initial column from readers worried that governments in poor countries don’t have the capability or the resources to measure things – not even births and deaths.

G-20 Member Argentina Is Failing Basic Data Transparency Test on Inflation—And Where’s the IMF on It?

Bad news from Argentina:  The government has been tampering with inflation statistics for several years (publishing official rate as 8 percent compared to independent estimates greater than 20 percent).  Now it is imposing big fines ($100,000) on private consulting firms and individuals producing private estimates.  And where is the IMF on this issue?  In deference to its member Argentina it publishes the official estimate with a footnote suggesting private estimates are much greater.  More background (in Spanish) can be found

Cash on Delivery Aid: A Good Idea for America Too

“Experimentation on foreign aid is valuable – and rare.”  This is the single most important line in Tina Rosenberg’s excellent description of Cash on Delivery Aid in her recent NYTimes opinion piece.

Tina fleshes out an important point we have made but not emphasized enough:  COD Aid will make sense to Americans.  

Divining (or Inferring) the Objectives of U.S. Foreign Aid

This is a joint post with Rita Perakis.

What are the objectives of U.S. foreign aid programs? Development itself? National security? Improving diplomatic relations? Humanitarian response to emergencies?

One answer to that question comes from what Congress and the Administration say – in the Presidential Study Directive, President Obama’s development speech at the United Nations, what Secretary Clinton said in her development speech last year, and what Administrator Raj Shah has been saying in recent speeches. And of course what the Congress says in authorizing legislation --- but oops the Foreign Assistance Act is 50 years old (and hasn’t even been reauthorized since 1985), as lamented in this 2-minute video.

Jean Arkedis in a recent CGD paper (done when she was seconded from the State Department two years ago) says that the U.S. government isn’t very clear about those objectives – and why not clarify by assigning spending lines in the federal budget to one or more of those objectives above? Recently Connie Veillette has also weighed in.