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How Can USAID Work Itself Out of a Job? Ideas for Smart Strategic Transitions

In recent months, USAID has been working diligently to craft its approach to “strategic transitions,” framing the principles it will follow, the benchmarks that will help inform transition decisions, and the programs and tools it can bring to bear. This Thursday, in a public discussion with the agency’s Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid (ACVFA), USAID will outline its initial thinking about strategic transitions. Our recent paper, Working Itself Out of a Job: USAID and Smart Strategic Transitions, offers some advice to the agency as it charts the course ahead. Here are the main takeaways.

Five Questions (and Answers) for USAID Administrator Nominee Mark Green

Ambassador Mark Green—President Trump’s pick to lead the US Agency for International Development (USAID)—is slated to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for his nomination hearing on Thursday morning. Drawing on themes of efficiency, effectiveness, accountability, and results, here are a few questions we’d pose to Ambassador Green (and a few of the things we’d love to hear in response).

Amid a Dire Foreign Affairs Budget Request, a Quiet Vote of Confidence for MCC

The Trump administration’s first budget deals a harsh blow to the international affairs budget. With a topline reduction of 32 percent, few programs avoid cuts. One that fares relatively well, however, is the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). Though the $800 million request is the lowest in the agency’s 15-year history, and—if enacted—would be its lowest-ever appropriation, it represents a cut of just 12 percent over last year’s enacted level.

Coming Soon: MCC’s New Crop of Countries for FY2017

Next Tuesday the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) board of directors will hold its final meeting of the year—and the last under the Obama administration. On the docket? Selecting which countries will be eligible for MCC assistance for fiscal year (FY) 2017. For the fourteenth year running, CGD’s MCC Monitor discusses overarching issues that will impact the decisions and offers predictions of which countries will be selected.

When Rules Are Wrong: Time to Rethink How MCC Identifies Partner Countries

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has officially kicked off its FY2017 “selection cycle” with last week’s release of the “Candidate Country Report.” Normally this is a pretty pro forma step that’s hardly blogworthy, but this year’s report showcases the inadequacy of the current rules that determine MCC’s candidate pool and the unnecessary instability they create—this year three countries that formerly “graduated” are suddenly back in the pool. 

Building on the Momentum: Focusing on Adolescent Girls through MCC Country Scorecards

In CGD’s last blog post on the new strategy, we commended the US government for leading the charge for adolescent girls—by issuing the first-ever country strategy specifically focused on the demographic. But how do we make sure that this articulated commitment continues to get translated into concrete action? What can MCC specifically contribute? One opportunity may lie in MCC’s country scorecards.

The Senate’s Ideas for MCC: All Good in Theory, One Questionable in Practice

The FY17 State and Foreign Operations spending bill brought good news for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) with big implications for its operations. New authority to engage in concurrent compacts in a single country would enable MCC to operate on a regional level, and provisions adjusting the criteria MCC uses to select partner countries could influence where MCC works. These are reasonable (even good!) ideas in theory, but the proposed eligibility requirement gives me some pause and could be challenging to apply in practice.

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