MCC: Setting An Example

March 8, 2011 By Eliel Talo

A new report published by the MCC, Principles into Practice: Doing What Works, shows how the MCC is setting an example for other bilateral and multilateral development agencies. The goals elaborated in the report—a commitment to the transparent use of taxpayer funds, clear and coherent development objectives, and a dedication to ensuring that money translates into results, represent, along with USAID Forward, the implementation of a new approach to development.

At every stage of the process—planning, implementing, and evaluation, the MCC demonstrates a commitment to results, and a willingness to be held accountable for both successes and failures. The MCC makes all of its data, from project budgets to quarterly progress reports to impact evaluations, publicly available, in order to learn and evolve as an agency and offer its lessons to the development community at large. This unprecedented accountability ensures that funding is reaching its intended targets, and taxpayers can see that their money is well spent.

In the past, aid agencies have had difficulty articulating how the projects that they sponsor actually lead to positive outcomes. The MCC has committed to making decisions based on rigorous evaluation and analysis. This involves asking difficult questions that many organizations might avoid: How many program participants are actually benefiting from these programs? What benefits are due to the program and not to outside circumstances? MCC’s use of rigorous data evaluation, administered by independent auditors and using a true control group or counterfactual to determine what effects programs actually had, set a standard that no other aid agency has matched, and guarantees that programs actually make a difference.

The recently House-passed continuing resolution (H.R. 1) drastically reduces MCC funding by $315 million, or 29% of its current level. This would devastate the ability of the MCC to pursue its goals, and undo some of the most responsible and effective aid work occurring today. The MCC’s focus on results, along with USAID’s own new evaluation policy, lead to a better return on taxpayer dollars when it comes to development, but neither of these innovative programs will be able to be fully implemented if the proposed budget cuts currently being debated by Congress come to be. While efficiency is the ultimate goal of these reforms, they can’t be carried out without adequate resources and capacity.  In this time of fiscal concerns, American taxpayers deserve to know where their money is going and what difference it is making, and the MCC’s focus on results provides exactly that.