Chapter 6: Guidelines for Consultation


Public participation results in more effective development programs.  For that reason, MCC is committed to effective consultation to inform its compact programs:

  • The legislation establishing MCC requires that “in entering into a Compact, the United States shall seek to ensure that the government of an eligible country (1) takes into account the local-level perspectives of the rural and urban poor, including women, in the eligible country; and (2) consults with private and voluntary organizations, the business community, and other donors in the eligible country.” 
  • MCC has committed to meeting the Performance Standards of the International Finance Corporation, which includes specific guidance on consultation. 
  • MCC’s Gender Policy has specific requirements on consultation.

This chapter summarizes good consultation practices and how they should be integrated into compact development.

Good Practices

Consultation is intended to both share information and provide an opportunity for stakeholders to provide input to compact development.  While the type of consultation may vary depending on the situation, effective consultation 1 should:

  • Be based on prior disclosure of information about compact development that is both relevant and adequate given the audience being consulted
  • Begin early and continue throughout compact development
  • Focus on how to best achieve potential impacts of the proposed investments while avoiding or minimizing any potential negative effects.
  • Be inclusive and culturally appropriate.
  • Be documented.
  • Inform compact development decision-making.

Defining a “Consultative Process”

Consultation is a two-way communication about compact development and implementation that occurs between the Compact Development Team and any stakeholder group.  Consultation is an ongoing process that is integrated throughout compact development, rather than a single discrete activity.  Where possible, consultation should make use of existing domestic institutions and processes as possible, and avoid one-off efforts to gather information from citizens or civic groups through forums that cannot be re-convened later.

Who needs to be consulted, when, and how should reflect the nature of the proposed investments, key associated issues, and the context of the proposed investments.   Appropriate stakeholders may include, but are not limited to:

  • Government
    • National government agencies and ministries
    • Legislative bodies
    • Opposition parties
    • Local governments
  • Private sector
    • Local and international companies
    • Business associations
    • Labor unions
  • Civic organizations
    • Non-governmental organizations
    • Professional organizations
    • Religious organizations
    • Organizations representing the interests of women and other vulnerable/underrepresented groups
    • Organizations that represent people with disabilities
  • Many others, including but not limited to:
    • Technical experts
    • University representatives
    • Concerned citizens
    • Diaspora groups

Compact Development Consultations

The following section illustrates how consultation can vary over the course of compact development, both before compact signing (Analysis, Project Definition, Project Development and Appraisal, Compact Negotiation and Signing) and after compact signing (Preparation for Entry into Force).  MCC will hold complimentary consultations in Washington and may participate in in-country consultations, when possible.

Tailoring consultation activities to each phase of compact development enables stakeholders to describe economic and social obstacles they experience; discuss potential solutions that would work in a local context; highlight flaws in previous efforts to address these challenges; debate the technical design and requirements of new proposals; and provide feedback about the impact of a compact project as it is implemented.  It also provides the government with a forum in which to explain what decisions have been taken and why.  Those who participate in the process must realize that being consulted means that their input will be considered.  But it does not mean that it will necessarily be reflected in the compact.

Phase 1: Analysis

During Phase I the country will establish a compact development team, complete an analysis of constraints to economic growth, carry out analyses of investment opportunities and constraints to poverty alleviation, and initiate public consultations.

The first step in the consultative process is the development of a strategy for public consultation led by the country’s Compact Development Team. The strategy will identify relevant stakeholders, a timeline when they will participate, and the methodology used for consulting them.  MCC will review the consultation plan to ensure there is participation by the private sector, as well as women, minorities, and other vulnerable groups.  If the government has recently undertaken broad based consultations around its own national development plans and strategies, these can be used to inform compact development. 

The first round of consultations should take place to inform and discuss the Constraints to Economic Growth Analysis, the Investment Opportunity Process, and the Social and Gender Constraints to Poverty Reduction Analysis. The information gathered in these consultations should contribute directly to the country core team’s prioritization of obstacles and/or sectors for intervention.

During phase 1 of compact development, consultation has the following purposes:

  • To manage public expectations about the meaning of eligibility, including general messages about the potential size and timing of a future compact with MCC.
  • To explain the compact development and decision-making processes to interested stakeholders so that they will know how and when they can participate and how decisions will be made;
  • To gather information about various groups’ experience of the constraints to economic growth (including women and men of different ages, social classes, ethnicity, religion, and other social differences) ; and
  • To identify potential groups requiring consultation throughout the life of the compact.  

Phase 2: Project Definition

During the second phase of compact development, the Compact Development Team will begin to propose potential projects to MCC through Concept Notes and Concept Papers.  The projects should be informed by the initial analyses and by consultations to diagnose root problems behind constraints to growth and identify appropriate responses.

Consultations continue with segments of society that are most likely to be affected by prioritized obstacles and sectors such as relevant government ministries and legislative committees; issue-specific experts or NGOs; relevant environmental and social organizations, including women’s and gender equality organizations; private sector leaders; and the donor community.  The feedback from potential beneficiaries and other relevant actors can be used to identify specific programs and interventions that will form the basis of project concept papers.

Compact Development teams should demonstrate how consultations have been integrated into their project proposals. 

Phase 3:  Project Development and Appraisal

Once MCC and the Compact Development Team reach agreement on a set of project proposals for formal appraisal, public consultations become narrower and more technically focused, with the following goals:

  • To explain publicly why the elements included in potential compact projects were selected;
  • To gather specific information needed to refine technical elements of the proposed projects;
  • To ensure that gender and other social dimensions are meaningfully integrated in project design and beneficiary access.
  • To ensure that project design alternatives, scoping and approach consider environmental and social impacts and sustainability and comply with related MCC policies and guidelines, national environmental requirements and international agreements. 2

To access this type of information, the Compact Development Team and government agencies involved in project development will need to consult with groups likely to be affected by the proposed project. Consultations can provide the information needed to help design projects in such a way as to maximize positive impact for the intended beneficiaries and minimize risks. 

Phase 4:  Compact Negotiation and Signing

During compact negotiations MCC and the Compact Development Team finalize a governance structure for compact implementation. As one means of continuing consultations with key civic stakeholders during implementation, most compact countries have incorporated rotating or permanent civil society and private sector representation into accountable entity (Millennium Challenge Authority, or MCA) governing bodies or stakeholder committees.

Phase 5:  Preparation for Entry Into Force

Once a compact has been signed, the MCA accountable entity finalizes the legal, financial, and staffing requirements needed to begin implementation of compact projects.  For this phase the two main outreach tasks are:

  • Promote realistic public understanding of the compact (e.g., set or manage public expectations about compact implementation)
  • Establish transparency and communication mechanisms to be used in implementation.

When establishing the early communication mechanisms that will be used throughout implementation, MCAs should work with MCA staff responsible for project management, environment, social and gender assessment, as well as monitoring and evaluation to design a strategy that considers all of MCC’s outreach and consultation needs. 

Managing a Consultative Process

Compact Development Teams should include an individual with demonstrated experience planning and managing participatory stakeholder consultations to develop and implement a comprehensive communications and outreach strategy, and to serve as a resource to the rest of the team.  The individual should also ensure that MCC’s requirements for social and gender inclusion are incorporated into the consultative process.

Consultations with particular demographic groups can require special methodologies to accommodate language barriers, overcome social norms regarding gender, class or ethnicity, or to reach traditionally excluded groups.  It is also important for the Compact Development Team to “circle back” to stakeholders consulted in previous phases to provide them updates.

To date, eligible countries have relied on a number of tactics to integrate consultations into compact development.  These have included, but are not limited to:

  • Information dissemination through television, radio, the internet, newspapers, and public awareness campaigns through local organizations;
  • Conversations with economists, sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, and other experts during the constraints analysis and preliminary analysis of social/gender constraints and opportunities;
  • Consultations through national and local representative bodies;
  • Consultations convened through non-governmental organizations; 
  • Stakeholder workshops and prioritization sessions conducted for purposes of results based program design;
  • Project-level consultations or focus groups with intended beneficiaries to inform design, environmental and social assessments, or resettlement plans;
  • Interactive discussions at town hall meetings, speaking tours, round-table discussion, and question and answer sessions;
  • Information sessions with domestic and international private sector actors during any efforts to leverage private resources to complement compact investments;
  • Information dissemination through newsletters, emails, factsheets, and communication workshops;
  • Conversations and collaboration with other donors.
  • 1. MCC’s guidance on consultation is based on the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) Performance Standards on Social & Environmental Sustainability and associated guidance developed by the IFC. For a full discussion of consultation requirements, please refer to Performance Standard 1: Social and Environmental Assessment and Management Systems. 
  • 2. For more information, please refer to MCC’s Environmental Guidelines, the International Finance Corporation’s Performance Standards, and MCC’s Gender Policy