MCC board meeting: On the agenda

EDITOR’S NOTE: Fiscal year 2013 selection criteria and methodology, and impact evaluations are among the topics up for discussion at the Millennium Challenge Corp.’s Sept. 13 board meeting. Sarah Jane Staats, director of the Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance Program at the Center for Global Development, gives a quick rundown.

The MCC Board of Directors is scheduled to meet September 13th. On the agenda: MCC’s forthcoming selection criteria and methodology report, impact evaluations, an update on closing Mali’s compact post-coup, and MCC’s gender approach. Not on the agenda (again): missing board members.

FY2013 Selection Begins:

The MCC released the first of several reports in the run-up to its annual selection process last month. The candidate country report, as its long title explains, says which countries are candidates for MCC assistance or would be but for other legal restrictions. Of note this year: a number of countries are legally prohibited (via the foreign assistance act, not just MCC) for budget transparency reasons. These include Cameroon, Guinea, Nicaragua (a former MCC compact country) and Swaziland. The MCC also says it will use FY2012 appropriations act provisions that allow it to keep countries in a prior year’s income classification. On Thursday, the board will consider the second report in annual selection process on the selection criteria and methodology. After big changes to the process last year, I expect things will stay more or less the same this time around.

Impact Evaluation:

The most interesting conversation at the board meeting will be on upcoming impact evaluations which are guaranteed, by their nature, to bring mixed results. I hope the MCC board, management and partners in Congress will give enough political space to ensure the evaluations are released publicly as promised and the results–good and bad–are allowed to shape a better, smarter MCC. The worst possible outcome would be to shy away from the findings or to slap the MCC with budget cuts when the results come in. (My colleague William Savedoff says more on this.) MCC should be proud to be a leader on development impact evaluations even if it will be hard to release anything less than perfect results, especially in a tough political and budget environment.  What happens with the MCC will affect other US government impact evaluation efforts ahead, including at USAID and with Feed the Future. The impact evaluations, and the agencies using them, need political space to do some development good.

Missing board members:

And I know I sound like a broken record, but the MCC board is still missing two of the four public board members and hasn’t had a full board since September 2009. I can’t come up with a good reason why this is still the case and have to assume the issue is either stuck in Congress or with the White House personnel office. Either way, it hurts the MCC board and its mission. Just think what those board members could do to help create some of the political space on the Hill and elsewhere for those upcoming impact evaluations.

Republished with permission from the Center for Global Development. Read the original article.

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