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Program Monitoring as a Tool for Measuring, Communicating, and Improving Program Effectiveness

January 17, 2024

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The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is committed to producing results and ensuring that the American people are getting a good return on their investment. MCC employs technically rigorous, systematic, and transparent methods of projecting, tracking, and evaluating the impacts of its programs.1 In other words, achieving results means more than just building more schools or disbursing more money for road construction; it means improving child learning or reducing barriers to transporting goods. It means more effective aid.

MCC’s Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) links three phases of programs: (1) pre- investment analysis, (2) tracking and assessing program implementation, and (3) learning for future program design. Each phase is important to MCC’s overarching principle of focusing on results. Pre- investment analysis aims to direct money to cost- effective projects. Implementation analysis, typically called monitoring, ensures that projects stay on track, holds implementers accountable for meeting certain results, and informs project adjustments. Analysis of longer- term results, typically called evaluation, fosters learning to improve programming in the future.

MCC’s M&E is not unique in the methods used. Rather, our approach is distinct in how we link pre- investment analysis with monitoring or tracking implementation. In other words, our pre- investment analysis, which includes cost- benefit analysis (CBA), is linked to our monitoring indicators’ baselines and targets. MCC connects these analyses directly: we use baseline and target values from the benefit and cost streams as our baseline and target values for our monitoring indicators. This connection anchors the CBA to targets that experts believe can be achieved, while ensuring that monitoring targets are ambitious enough to justify the cost of the project. In addition, MCC is unique in presenting these analyses and plans to the public. This chapter describes MCC’s M&E approach during the pre- investment and implementation phases and then discusses challenges encountered during these phases.