Poverty Reduction Blog Tag: Country Selection
Posted on June 18, 2012 by Alicia Phillips Mandaville, Director, Development Policy
One of the positive (if unanticipated) side effects of making changes to the MCC scorecard last year was the volume of interaction our team had with colleagues in other parts of the U.S. Government who are also interested in using indicator data for decision making. While it’s the large raw data producers posting to data.gov that come to mind when people think about data and the government, there are small offices all over the foreign affairs community using—or investigating how to use—global indicator data for internal decision making. After several months of one-on-one conversations with folks at the State Department, Peace Corps and USAID about these different efforts, we thought it made sense to actually gather everyone together.
So we did. A couple of weeks ago, some 20-30 U.S. Government colleagues hunkered down for a few hours at MCC and spent the morning introducing our own data practices to each other. While we (of course) spent some time noting the finer points of being “the data people” inside agencies that may not always love what the data says, it was a really productive morning.
Each of our offices has hit some similar challenges: What do you do when you can’t find globally comparable data? How does data interact with the judgment of human beings? What happens when the data shows decline that no one expected? How do I make findings come to life for decision makers? Why is it so hard to convince people that statistical noise is manageable but not eradicable? And we’ve gone about addressing them in some very different ways. Even hearing how different offices have had to explain the rationale behind data-driven decision making to their colleagues was illuminating.
This was an initial meeting, meant to get to know each other and identify common challenges and interests. Judging from the questions and calls for follow-up conversations, I feel confident that at least some of us will gather again soon. And that’s good news for collective U.S. Government learning on the ins and outs of evidence-based decision making about foreign assistance.
Score: plus one for the data people.
Posted on May 2, 2012 by Alicia Phillips Mandaville, Director, Development Policy
[Disclaimer: In a burst of what passes for social media genius in her own mind, your author is taking blatant advantage of both International Press Freedom Day and today’s rather intense Twitter debate on open data to shamelessly promote MCC’s freedom of information index. #MCCFOI #pressfreedom #opendata #shamelessplug ]
The Millennium Challenge Corporation is unapologetically keen on open data, which should be no surprise. Our annual partner country selection process not only relies on third-party data but also creates and publishes country scorecards displaying countries’ relative policy performance across three broad areas: good governance, social investments and economic policy. To date, MCC’s Board of Directors has approved more than $9 billion in compact investments in 25 countries that were identified using a public, data driven selection system. We like data—and we like openness.
Last year, MCC took this one step further. In an effort to incorporate emerging policy areas and new data developed since MCC was established in 2004, we updated the scorecard system. We found creative methodologies and new datasets from the Open Net Initiative and FRINGE Special, which focused on tracking Internet filtering and freedom of information laws, respectively. Combining this data with Freedom House’s assessments of freedom of the press, MCC created a freedom of information indicator.
To our knowledge, the freedom of information indicator represents one of the first efforts to publish a transparent ranking of low- and low-middle-income countries’ commitment to enable or allow information to move freely in society. This was an exciting advance for us; understanding the role governments play in restricting or facilitating information flows can shape how we understand the political and economic environment in these countries. Political scientists know that citizens’ access to information is a key part of accountable government, while economists point to the role of information in efficient market function.
We fully recognize that a first step is just that—a first. We welcome critique and analysis of what practical steps would improve the index. For more information on the methodologies used to assess freedom of the press, Internet freedom and freedom of information laws, please see the Freedom of Information section of our Guide to the Indicators and let us know what you think. 140 or fewer characters with the #MCCFOI hashtag would be nice. Lengthier, complex thoughts would be even better.
Posted on November 21, 2011 by Daniel W. Yohannes , Chief Executive Officer
With great hope that we can transform the lives of Indonesia’s poor for the better, I joined Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Indonesia’s Finance Minister Martowardojo, along with other distinguished government ministers, ambassadors and guests, for the signing of Indonesia’s $600 million MCC compact in Bali this past Saturday. As Secretary Clinton said, each of the elements of the compact represents a step forward in the relationship between the United States and Indonesia. I am proud that MCC is partnering with the Indonesians to achieve their goals for long-term poverty reduction and economic growth.
MCC’s investments in low-carbon economic development, better natural resources management, nutrition to prevent childhood stunting, and procurement modernization create new opportunities to improve the quality of life for Indonesians. Our partnership will work to raise productivity, increase household incomes, reduce household energy costs, and improve the delivery of growth-enhancing goods and services by the public sector. I am struck by how open the Indonesians have been to MCC’s distinct model for development—one that is country-driven, reform-centered and results-focused to maximize effectiveness and sustainability. This innovative compact embodies Indonesia's priorities and its strong commitment to our partnership.
As I shared with the Indonesians, much hard work awaits us. Our partnership must now turn the inspiration of a momentous signing into the implementation of an action plan that will deliver lasting impact. Through an unfaltering commitment to tangible results, accountability and transparency, we can achieve the full promise of the compact. Let’s get to work.
Posted on November 9, 2011 by Sheila Herrling, Vice President for Policy and Evaluation
The Millennium Challenge Corporation just posted its hallmark policy scorecards for the world’s low- and low-middle-income countries – and for the first time, MCC is publishing two scorecards for each country.
After more than a year of research and consultation, the MCC Board recently approved the transition to a new, updated scorecard. MCC is publishing both scorecards this year to make the change as transparent as possible.
The heart of the new scorecard remains the same: independent data, a control of corruption hurdle and policy measures to evaluate a country’s commitment to ruling justly, investing in people and economic freedom. The changes we made are consistent with MCC’s work and approach: We have added a democratic rights hurdle and indicators that measure gender in the economy and access to credit.
What may not be obvious—but what I am most proud of—is how the new scorecard shines a spotlight on MCC’s ability to innovate and stay current. For years, the foreign assistance community has recognized our scorecards as a leading mechanism to help drive evidence-based decision-making. The incorporation of emerging policy areas and new data—like the data on Internet filtering in the freedom of information indicator—show that MCC is nimble enough to adapt to a rapidly changing global world.
We often say challenge is our middle name at MCC. This is one of many challenges the agency takes on that I have been thrilled to be a part of.
Posted on November 24, 2010 by James Parks, Acting Vice President, Department of Policy and Evaluation
With MCC’s FY11 country scorecards posted online earlier this week, I wanted to take this opportunity both to highlight MCC’s approach to country selection and to make a sincere call for feedback.
MCC is widely recognized for its focus on countries that exhibit good policy performance relative to their peers. As part of its process to select partner countries, MCC uses globally-recognized, public, quantitative indicators that help assess governments’ policy performance on Ruling Justly, Investing in People, and Economic Freedom. MCC then compiles that indicator data on a scorecard for each candidate country. This public, data-driven approach to selecting partner countries has worked well for MCC for the past six years.
As a learning organization, we feel it is appropriate to look rigorously at the selection system from time to time. Over the past six years, new hypotheses and research have emerged on the relationship between a range of development policies on the one hand and economic growth and poverty reduction on the other. There also have been important improvements to data, some of which already have been incorporated into our policy indicators. We want to ensure that MCC can make dynamic adjustments to its indicators, and, as follows, its scorecards, where appropriate to account for new research and improved data.
We are currently initiating a three part review to:
- examine what the current indicators are capturing;
- ask what else would be important to measure, based on links to poverty reduction and economic growth; and
- identify which indicators most effectively reflect relevant government policies and performance.
This review is an important opportunity to evaluate our indicators and scorecards, even if it may not result in significant changes.
We are asking you to share your suggestions and to encourage your professional colleagues to offer their assessments. We are particularly interested in comments that go beyond flagging a concern to recommending a solution. The link to our page for accepting public comment is: http://www.mcc.gov/pages/selection/selectionfy2011feedback/.
MCC will publish online comments received between now and January 10. This is an opportunity to make a recommendation early and have it published in advance of a good bit of public conversation and consultation in the months that follow. Thanks in advance for your time and critical thinking!
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