A full 879 days into the Trump administration—more than 500 with a nominee awaiting confirmation —and following five changes in acting leadership with four different acting agency heads, the Millennium Challenge Corporation finally has a new CEO.
CGD Policy Blogs
In its 15 years of operation, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has, in many ways, set a new standard for evaluation and learning.
Earlier this month, bipartisan coalitions in the House and Senate introduced legislation to improve the coordination of US government efforts to tackle the root causes of state fragility and violent extremism. If the bills advance, the House and Senate will need to reconcile a few key differences, related to funding levels; which funds to establish; and how to select focus countries, among other things. There are also some bigger picture questions that Congress and the implementing agencies will need to grapple with as the legislation (hopefully) moves forward.
PEPFAR has long enjoyed bipartisan support on the Hill. Yet, it has not been spared from significant cuts in President Trump’s latest budget request for foreign aid. It is noteworthy that this administration’s three successive budget requests have proposed increasingly large cuts to PEPFAR’s funding. If past is prelude, a cut of this magnitude is unlikely to materialize in any final spending bill.
The world, as they say, is moving “beyond aid.” As true as that may be in aggregate, however, the trend doesn’t apply evenly across groups of countries. While fairly significant data gaps prevent a complete and unbiased picture, the available data show that ODA remains a comparatively prominent source of external financing for fragile states.
On December 11, MCC will hold its end of the year board meeting to select which countries will be eligible for MCC’s FY2019 funds. As we do every year, CGD has been monitoring how countries perform on MCC’s scorecards, and examining the political climates and—where relevant—previous MCC program performance for countries likely to be up for debate.
Last week, the agency came out with its first major, visible Journey to Self-Reliance product—a series of country “roadmaps” that use 17 indicators to plot low- and middle-income countries’ “commitment” to and “capacity” for self-reliance.
Today, USAID took a big step forward on a new effort that could make a real difference to the agency’s impact and cost-effectiveness.
In July, United States Global AIDS Coordinator Deborah Birx made a striking commitment: under her leadership, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) would direct at least 40 percent of its funding to host country governments or organizations by the end of 2019—rising to 70 percent by the end of 2020. The bottom line: PEPFAR’s local targets are commendable in theory, but we suspect their application in practice will prove complicated. Below is our take on the related issues—and some recommendations for PEPFAR to forge the most effective path forward.