Brookings Event to Roll Out 2011 OECD/DAC Peer Review of the U.S.

Below, please see a guest post from Ariadne Medler, Program Coordinator, Development Assistance and Governance Initiative in the Global Economy and Development Program, Brookings, in which she previews the 2011 Development Assistance Committee peer review of the United States. Medler looks at how the peer review will impact reform efforts underway, particularly in the challenging budget environment, while setting the stage for the Brookings event roll out of the report tomorrow.

This week, the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD/DAC) will release the 2011 peer review for the U.S., an in-depth examination of the country’s development systems and strategies. This independent critique is intended to assess the effectiveness of aid policies and programs against internationally established principles, to assist in improving performance through mutual learning, and to foster coordination and identify best practices. The assessment falls on the heels of far-reaching policy reforms and important shifts in the U.S. development landscape, lending an international voice to an ongoing domestic dialogue.

The Obama Administration’s agenda for development is a crucial step toward real reform for the world’s largest single donor, and is intended to return the country to a position of global leadership in the development arena. The reform vision outlined in last year’s Presidential Policy Directive on Development (PPD) and the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) is moving forward in promising ways, but many challenges remain.

Chief among these is their effective implementation and maintaining the momentum of reform. At a time when the country’s politics is being weighed down by heightened budget insecurity, the development community must convince both lawmakers in Washington and the American public that foreign assistance is both effective and necessary. Making taxpayer dollars do more abroad requires focusing seriously on leveraging partnerships and working better with non-state actors, such as NGOs and the private sector, and with Congress.

Recommendations from the last U.S. peer review, in 2006, included refocusing development strategy to center on priority objectives, fostering greater policy coherence and a whole-of-government approach to development, consolidating and streamlining operational responsibilities, and greater engagement with and financing of multilateral development efforts. This year’s review will likely build on these areas for improvement. How large of a focus will be placed on creating a cross-agency development strategy and increasing policy coherence, where much work remains to be done? Compared to the 2006 review, will this year’s assessment garner wider interest, given greater activity and awareness around the foreign aid reform agenda?

To delve deeper into the recommendations and implications of this year’s review, the Brookings Institution is hosting an official launch event, which will include a public panel discussion on Thursday, July 28 with Donald Steinberg, USAID’s Deputy Administrator, J. Brian Atwood, the OECD/DAC Chair, Connie Veillete of the Center for Global Development, and Homi Kharas and Noam Unger of Brookings. For more on the discussion, and to register, please visit the event page here.


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