MCC impact evaluations: A model for USAID?

Sarah Jane Staats, director of Rethinking US Foreign Assistance Initiative at the Center for Global Development. Photo by: CGD

As the U.S. Agency for International Development plans its first rigorous impact evaluations, the reports released last month by the Millennium Challenge Corp. could serve a possible model.

MCC’s first set of impact evaluation reports were, as expected, a mixed bag of results, revealing where the agency’s programs worked and where they did not. Experts did note: Lessons from the evaluations — both positive and negative — and how MCC applies these are just as important as the results.

The MCC went beyond what’s required with its impact evaluation reports, Sarah Jane Staats of the Center for Global Development told Devex. As she noted in a recent blog post, MCC sets its standards higher than any other U.S. agency engaged in development.

USAID plans to perform similar impact evaluations as part of a policy Administrator Rajiv Shah unveiled in 2011. It’s part of several sweeping reforms under USAID Forward.

The release of USAID impact evaluations and, in general, a stronger focus on U.S. aid transparency and evaluation should be a priority of U.S. President Barack Obama in his second term, Staats told Devex the day after Obama’s re-election.

Staats did admit that there is a danger of “any kind of kneejerk reaction particularly in such a tight budget cycle that would punish an agency for releasing what doesn’t go well.”

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.