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CGD Policy Blogs


The QDDR: Whew, It’s Done (Or Is It?)

After nearly 18 months, thousands of man-hours, and a few interagency scuffles, the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review was released on Wednesday.  First, hats off to the many State Department and USAID staff who toiled on the various working groups in addition to their regular work portfolios.  This was a huge undertaking for which staff should be applauded.

Why the MCC Should Declare Success in Ghana…and Then Walk Away

Ghana is still the hyper-darling of the development community. But if the aid bureaucracies don’t fully recognize the vast changes going on inside the country, then they are destined to just keep doing the same old thing.  That’s why the Millennium Challenge Corporation is rightly proud of its compact with Ghana. But it’s the same reason the MCC should not rush into a second compact.

Ghana’s current $547 million MCC compact expires in February 2012.  As reported by CGD’s Sarah Jane Staats and colleagues:

All But Certain: No Quorum for December MCC Board Meeting

As we have reported before, the Millennium Challenge Corporation is required to have one of four public board members in place to constitute a quorum and make decisions. Today’s tally: zero. And it’s looking almost impossible that that number will change in time for the December 15th MCC board meeting.

Global Health is Development: Why USAID Should Lead the GHI

This is a joint post with Connie Veillette. It is cross-posted on the Global Health Policy blog.

The QDDR pre-release consultation document says the Global Health Initiative will eventually be managed by USAID. For a number of reasons, it makes complete sense for USAID to lead the GHI.

Health is a core development mission. Consider that the FY2010 budget for health programs totals $7.8 billion, or more than 20% of the entire foreign assistance budget. We use development assistance dollars for global health as part of a broader development mission. President Obama’s Global Development Policy identifies the GHI as a key development initiative, so our premier development agency should surely be given the charge to lead the administration’s largest development initiative.

Health is more than just health. Health is about treating and preventing disease and improving health systems but it is also much more. It’s about improved nutrition and equitable access to food, clean water and sanitation, education, and investments in research and technology. These are sectors in which USAID has long worked, and they need to be integrated into a strategy that supports the GHI.

The GHI needs one leader, not three, for better decision-making and results (see related blog posts here and here). The administration points to the GHI as a new way of doing business and as a leading edge of aid reform efforts, but the current inter-agency consensus style leadership doesn’t seem to be working efficiently. While all U.S.G. staff at HQ and in-country are working fast and furiously, the lack of a leader at the top seems to be slowing decision-making at the highest levels. Some visible expressions of this lack of efficiency include the absence, a full year and seven months since the GHI was announced, of a final strategy, country strategies, or even a GHI website. For this new and ambitious approach to take off, the U.S. needs one leader that is able to tap the strengths of different government agencies that make unique contributions to the GHI.

Congressionally Mandated Robbery on the High Seas

I just want to give a quick shout-out to Christopher Barrett and his Cornell University colleagues for their new study of the outdated and costly cargo preference requirements in U.S. food aid policy. This is a clear example of the importance (and unintended consequences) of the organization and implementation of U.S. foreign assistance programs.

On Not Being Cavalier about Results

The Guardian’s Madeleine Bunting recently slammed Andrew Mitchell’s (Secretary of State for International Development, UK) commitment to results-based aid.  Here’s what I had to say about her somewhat cavalier critique:  (See also Mitchell’s response, where my comment is posted.)

IMF Reform: How the Poor Man (That’s the USA) Had a Good Idea

IMF governance reforms were agreed the week before the G20 Summit.  One decision – to increase IMF resources but not by much – may matter for the IMF’s role in a still-unsettled Eurozone – if Ireland’s problem becomes Portugal’s and so on.

For a full and nicely balanced assessment of the reforms from Ted Truman, including on resources, go here.  Among other things, unpacks a couple of little-known and little-understood facts that are (though he doesn’t say so directly) about the role of the USA – the poor man with good ideas.

Efficiency: The Missing Link in Global Health

In a refreshing and necessary change from the last decade’s focus on more money, the 2010 World Health Report —released yesterday by the WHO—focuses part of its attention on the problem of health system inefficiencies, estimating that 20% to 40% of all health spending ($1.5 trillion USD) is currently wasted. The report indicates that this level of waste—a combined result of poorly used inputs and corruption/fraud—is of similar magnitude in both poor and wealthy countries.

The QDDR Pre-Release: Good Intent but the Devil’s in the Details

With the unofficial release of a consultation document on the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), we now have further indications of what will be in the final version scheduled for official release in December.  Until we see the final product, it is difficult to know if some of the laudable rhetoric surrounding the role of development and USAID will be matched by the concrete steps needed to turn it into reality.  As they say, the devil is in the details.