One of the ways MCC is changing the conversation about evidence-based foreign assistance is through its approach to monitoring and evaluation (M&E). This starts with tracking performance on processes and outputs at the beginning of a compact, and continues to tracking high-level outcomes through independent evaluations after the end of a compact in order to concretely assess how a project has achieved its objective in the pursuit of MCC’s mission to reduce poverty through economic growth. MCC’s commitment to real-time, transparent monitoring of its investments, as detailed in MCC’s Policy on Monitoring and Evaluation, makes it a leader among foreign assistance donors.
Progress Towards Results Across MCC’s Investments to Date
Significant progress has been made towards cataloging long-term results and impact. The latest results by country program and by sector demonstrate milestones achieved and participants reached. MCC tracks not only outputs but also higher-level outcomes across compacts. Those higher-level results materialize as compacts mature, and are published as soon as they are available on MCC’s Evaluation Catalog.
By Country Program
MCC aggregates results in key sectors to measure progress in those areas across compacts. Currently, MCC calculates these results on a quarterly basis in six sectors: roads, agriculture and irrigation, water and sanitation, education, energy, and property rights and land policy. The Quarterly Common Indicator Report contains the latest results.
In all of these sectors, MCC tracks not only outputs, but also higher-level outcomes across Compacts. Those higher-level results materialize as compacts mature and will be published as soon as they are available.
To fulfill MCC’s commitment to tracking results on poverty and economic growth, monitoring progress is integrated into all phases of compact operations—from compact development through implementation. The diagram below demonstrates how this takes place and how the results that are tracked become part of a feedback loop that is used to improve performance during a compact and to apply lessons learned to future compacts.
Integrating Monitoring in Compact and Threshold Program Operations
Every country’s approach for assessing progress towards results is outlined in its M&E Plan, the central tool for monitoring and evaluating the compact or threshold program’s activities. Development of the M&E Plan begins during program development, and it is completed around the start of implementation. The M&E Plan is developed collaboratively by the Millennium Challenge Account, the local accountable entity responsible for implementing the program, and MCC, with substantial input from implementing entities and implementers. The plan is a living document and is regularly modified during the life of the compact or threshold program to reflect changes in program circumstances or when new information is available.
Monitoring Program Performance
As a federal agency, MCC is committed to the principles of performance measurement mandated under the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA). The agency applies this same focus on results to its compact and threshold programming. MCC monitors progress towards program results on a regular basis using performance indicators specified in the M&E Plan. The M&E Plan specifies indicators at all levels – process, output, and outcome levels – so that progress towards final results can be tracked at every step. Lower-level indicators (process and output) and their targets are typically drawn from project and activity work plans, with results estimated to materialize throughout the program life cycle. Higher-level indicators (outcome) and their targets are often, though not always, directly linked to the economic rate of return analysis that is conducted to estimate the impacts of the investment, and are drawn from the benefit streams of that analysis. These results are estimated to materialize in later years of the program life cycle or after the program ends.
Every quarter, each MCA submits an Indicator Tracking Table that shows actual performance of each indicator relative to the baseline and target levels that were established in the M&E Plan. MCC reviews this data every quarter to assess whether results are being achieved and integrates this information into project management decisions.
Data for performance monitoring and reporting comes from surveys, project implementers, and other entities. MCC strongly supports comprehensive, quality data collection conducted by local resources and frequently uses compact and threshold program M&E funds to invest in surveys fielded both by private firms and national statistical agencies or other government entities.
All collected data, whether from surveys or implementers, undergoes regular data quality checks managed by the MCAs and monitored by MCC to ensure their integrity and accuracy. Key Performance Indicators are reviewed annually to reflect the monitoring needs of the compact or threshold program, and the indicators are published quarterly as part of MCC’s commitment to transparency.