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CGD Policy Blogs


Poe Transparency & Accountability Bill: Will it Pass?

The House was expected to vote on the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2012 (H.R. 3159) this week but didn't quite get to it before concluding business. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), requires standard monitoring and evaluation across all US foreign aid agencies and would make the Foreign Assistance Dashboard a lasting—and required—tool to track US aid spending.

Forward with USAID Procurement Reform?

President Obama isn't the only government official who promised to deliver change. Two years ago, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah launched USAID Forward, a blueprint for reforming the way America’s largest foreign aid agency does business. Among the changes: Implementation and Procurement Reform (IPR) to triple USAID funding directly to and through developing country governments, businesses and NGOs by 2015. This could be a good thing – less expensive contracts in some cases may deliver good or even better results – but as USAID puts the new policies into practice, the agency’s leadership should keep an eye on  program quality, competition and capacity.

It’s Not About the Grade: MCC’s First Five Impact Evaluations

It’s not about the grade, it’s about the learning say Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) officials as they prepare to release the US government’s first five* independent development impact evaluations tomorrow. Results will be mixed. They should be. But if the MCC and other development policymakers pay attention to what the impact evaluations tell them—and the MCC keeps its commitment to independent, rigorous evaluation across the rest of its programs—it will be really good news.

“Aid as Religion” and CGD’s Pakistan Report

In a recent blog post, Pakistani economist Anjum Altaf lambasted our recent report on the US development approach to Pakistan, “More Money, More Problems,” for not being sufficiently skeptical of the US development program, especially the US aid program, in Pakistan. Dr. Altaf criticized our 2011 report too. You can review last year’s discussion here.

Getting Greater Value from Post-Quake Aid to Haiti

The January 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, killed over 220,000 people, displaced several million, and flattened much of the capital, Port Au Prince, also unleashed a tsunami of outside assistance. In the 28 months since the earthquake official donors have disbursed almost $6 billion in aid to help the people of Haiti, the equivalent of $600 per person for a country where per capita annual income is just $670. Where has all the money gone? On the second anniversary of the quake we set out to answer this question; our new CGD policy paper is the result. The short answer is that the vast majority of the money so-far disbursed has been paid to international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private contractors. And while many of these organizations do excellent work, there is shockingly little information on how they used the funds.

Engagement Amid Austerity - Or How the United States Stays in the Game Despite Budget Pressures

This is a joint post with John Norris of the Center for American Progress.

Budget concerns will almost certainly put downward pressure on federal spending across a host of government programs for a number of years. Although some think it is almost heretical to point out the obvious, the international affairs budget will not be immune from this dynamic. In fact, international spending could take a disproportionate hit compared to domestic spending – despite the fact that discretionary international spending is a very small part of the overall budget puzzle.

International affairs, and more specifically foreign assistance, have rarely been popular budget items among the public or on Capitol Hill – despite consistently comprising only about 1 percent of the total federal budget. Even so, foreign aid and international engagement make good political targets for elected officials out on the stump. It is far easier to demonize foreign aid than to explain how relatively modest programs to improve living standards in the developing world have consistently proven to be in the national interest over the long-term.