There’s a lot to be said for good data sense, and one way the Millennium Challenge Corporation could demonstrate such sense next year is to replace their current corruption measure with a better one: surveyed evidence of bribes paid.
CGD Policy Blogs
Global development isn't exactly a campaign issue. But we at CGD hope it's a policy area both presidential transition teams are taking very seriously. The next US president will need to confront and prevent crises where our development and humanitarian assistance is a far more useful (and less expensive) response than guns and bombs. To that end, led by Scott Morris, we at the CGD Rethinking US Development Policy program put together a short memo to the transition teams.
The country scorecards that serve as the basis for MCC country eligibility decisions aren’t complete, but the data for the particularly weighty indicators—including the must-pass Control of Corruption hurdle—is now available. I ran the numbers to get a sneak peek at some of the issues the agency and its board will grapple with over the next few months. Some of what emerged from this number crunching is encouraging—most current partner countries surpass MCC’s standards and some interesting new prospects for partnership emerge. More troubling is that two of the countries currently developing compacts—Kosovo and Mongolia—don’t pass the corruption hurdle.
ForeignAssistance.gov is a great idea in theory—a one-stop shop for information about all US foreign assistance spending. In practice, the site has struggled to become a useful and reliable tool due to missing data and poor quality information. But if you look closely, the Department of Defense (DOD), which by some measures is one of the biggest players in US foreign assistance, truly stands out for its reporting gap.
On January 12, 2010, Haiti experienced a 7.0M earthquake, killing over 200,000 people and making several million homeless. In the years that followed, the US committed over $3 billion in taxpayer funds to help Haitians cope with this enormous disaster. Between 2012 and 2014, my coauthor Julie Walz and I spent countless hours trying to figure out where all the money had gone.
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.
While recent aid transparency buzz has largely revolved around the latest donor rankings, MCC (always a top ranked donor) has been busy quietly raising the transparency bar yet again. The latest display of commendable openness? A concise report on closeout economic rate of return (ERR) for 94 projects in 10 compacts, as well as compiled data on original ERRs for 45 projects in 11 open compacts.
After two and a half great years as director of CGD’s Rethinking US Development Policy initiative, I’m handing over the reins to my colleague Scott Morris. Many of you will know Scott as a CGD Senior Fellow with deep experience from the Treasury and on Capitol Hill. He’s a thought leader on many US development issues, especially the multilateral development banks and international debt. Rethink could not be in better hands as we start thinking about a new administration and Co