Rigorous Evidence: Key To Progress Against World Poverty?

 

Tuesday, November 4, 2008 at 12:00 am

Council for Excellence in Government

A policy forum on the innovative evidence-based approach of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, established by Congress in 2004 as a major new vehicle for international development assistance

After decades in which development agencies have disbursed billions of dollars for social programs, and developing country governments and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have spent hundreds of billions more, it is deeply disappointing to recognize that we know relatively little about the net impact of most of these social programs.”

— The conclusion of a recent influential report of the Center for Global Development, based on a comprehensive review of the evaluation literature [When Will We Ever Learn? CGD 2006, developed with support from the Gates and Hewlett Foundations]. 

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), established by Congress in 2004 to administer a major new U.S. development assistance effort, has undertaken a concerted strategy to address this evaluation gap, sponsoring rigorous independent evaluations of its funded projects so as to build scientifically-valid evidence about “what works.”  On October 29, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, in collaboration with MCC, will host a forum with leaders of the development policy and research community on MCC’s evidence-based approach.  The forum’s purpose is (i) to discuss the approach, including some initial results and MCC’s new web-based effort to make the results public in a transparent and timely way; (ii) to explore whether the MCC approach can help spark rapid, evidence-driven progress in development assistance, similar to that which has transformed other fields such as medicine and U.S. welfare policy; and (iii) to seek input and suggestions on the approach from forum participants.

The forum will feature the following speakers (listed in reverse alphabetical order), and a format that encourages open discussion among all meeting participants:

  1. Franck Wiebe,  Chief Economist, Millennium Challenge Corporation
  2. Mark Lopes,  Senior Policy Advisor to Senator Menendez (Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance)
  3. Dan Levy, Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government
  4. Ruth Levine, Vice President for Programs and Operations,  and Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development
  5. Ron Haskins, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
  6. Rachel Glennerster, Executive Director, Poverty Action Lab at M.I.T.
  7. Jon Baron, Executive Director, Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy

Additional background on the event, including the agenda, can be found at http://ceg.files.cms-plus.com/Evidence/Bkrd_and_agenda.pdf.