MFAN Statement: New Evaluations Advance Transparency and Provide Valuable Guidance for Future Programs

October 23, 2012 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN).

With the release of the first round of impact evaluations, MFAN is pleased that the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) continues to push forward and insist that we prove the effectiveness of U.S. development programs, be transparent about the successes and challenges, and, importantly, learn from our experiences. MFAN’s Co-Chairs and Principals submitted the following statements in support of the evaluations released today.


“The Millennium Challenge Corporation’s impact evaluations are a tremendous step forward in improving transparency and effectiveness within U.S. development programs. We’ve lobbied for such evaluations for years and are pleased to see the MCC moving forward. They speak to the value and impact of development programs on the ground and will provide a roadmap for improvements. We hope these evaluations encourage Congress to continue to invest in improving the lives of people in developing countries.”

– Rev. David Beckmann, MFAN Co-Chair and President, Bread for the World

“The MCC has been at the head of the movement toward more rigorous monitoring and evaluation of foreign assistance programs, a difficult, complex, and absolutely essential step toward more accountable and effective development.  Tremendous kudos to the MCC for putting its reputation and work on the line through transparent, honest, rigorous evaluations, and sharing the results — thereby allowing us all to learn and setting an example for other development agencies and organizations, both public and private. This path-breaking effort is putting to the test long-held assumptions about how to promote development and is just the type of learning we need if we are to use our assistance resources effectively.”

– George Ingram, MFAN Co-Chair

“From its inception, MCC was designed with a commitment to transparency and evidence-based decision making.  The release of these results puts that promise into action.  The discussion that follows from this and future evaluations is vitally important, because it is only through critical assessment that the MCC will be able to fulfill its dual mission to have greater impact in the lives of the world’s poor while at the same time providing better stewardship of U.S. taxpayer dollars.”

– Jim Kolbe, MFAN Co-Chair and former Congressman

“We applaud the Millennium Challenge Corporation on the publication of its first round of impact evaluations. In addition to providing more rigorous analysis of how U.S.-funded MCC programs are improving the lives of citizens in partner countries, the evaluations contain lessons that will enable the MCC to advance their future policy and programs. ONE continues to be impressed by the MCC’s dedication to transparency, impact monitoring, and poverty reduction.”

– Tom Hart, U.S. Executive Director, ONE

“The MCC’s release of its first independent impact evaluations has set a high bar for other U.S. agencies and for aid agencies around the world. The challenge for the MCC is to integrate its findings, both good and bad, into its future work. The challenge for the rest of us, including those on Capitol Hill, is to understand the subtleties of the results. We should all want to encourage sensible risk-taking and more honest assessments.”

– Todd J. Moss, Acting President and Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development

“MCC has set a very high standard by investing in rigorous evaluation and demonstrating its commitment to transparency and accountability for results — a standard that no other U.S. foreign assistance program has matched.  It is evidence of the agency’s overall commitment to holding itself accountable for results:  MCC was recently ranked 9 out of 72 donors globally for its transparency, ahead of Canada, Germany, Japan, and France.  Other donors, and the U.S. government as a whole, should be paying attention and following suit: that the MCC is willing to show the bad with the good is a risk only to the extent that we have few other institutions to compare them with.

“With these impact evaluations, MCC is serving as a model for bi-partisan efforts in Congress.  The bipartisan Foreign Assistance Transparency and Accountability Act (H.R. 3159/S.3310) sponsored by Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Howard Berman (D-CA) and Sens. Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) (S.3310), would help make this type of rigorous accountability the standard for U.S. foreign assistance efforts.   Congress should act to embrace MCC’s efforts and raise the level of accountability for programs to fight poverty and build a better world.”

– Ray Offenheiser, President, Oxfam America

“MCC deserves an enormous amount of credit for its first round of impact evaluations, which focused on farmer training activities in five countries. Some of the key findings underscore that reducing poverty by changing farmer behavior and improving productivity depends on a number of factors, such as the customizing of training programs, time spent with farmers, and inputs provided. As an organization that is establishing frameworks for companies to measure the social and economic impact of their business operations on individuals and communities, we know how challenging it can be to move beyond the measurement of outputs to fully understand and quantify outcomes. By publicizing its results and sharing how those results will drive program improvements, MCC is modeling a commitment to transparency that other development agencies should follow. The evidence base created will not only inform other development organizations, but also the investments of our member companies in agriculture value chains. Those of us who care deeply about development outcomes, whether driven by business investment or foreign assistance dollars, should support the honest assessment of results embodied in these first impact evaluations as well as the culture of learning they enable.”

– Jennifer Potter, President & CEO, Initiative for Global Development

“Committed to transparency since the beginning, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is truly ‘walking the walk’ through today’s release of its first set of impact evaluations. These evaluations of farmer training programs in Armenia, El Salvador, Ghana, Honduras, and Nicaragua, are honest about what’s working and what could be improved. This transparency is critical to ensuring that women and men are able to make decisions about and truly ‘own’ MCC projects in their countries. We hope that the next series of evaluations will include tools to assess the unique impact of MCC programs on women and girls, such as the use of sex-disaggregated data. For now, though, we hope Congress sees these evaluations as a prime example of the MCC’s leadership in transparency and accountability — principles that we know are vital to ensuring the effectiveness of U.S. international assistance.”

– Ritu Sharma, Co-founder & President, Women Thrive Worldwide

“Impact evaluations aren’t about pass or fail for specific projects. Development programs — and the MCC compacts — comprise multiple complex activities. Some may turn out well, others may flop, and the measure of a strong organization is that it wants to know the difference and learns and improves when it finds out. The MCC is taking brave steps in this direction.”

– Sarah Jane Staats, Director of the Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance Initiative, Center for Global Development

“InterAction welcomes the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s release of its first set of impact evaluations. The principles of transparency and accountability are important pillars of effective development for both governmental and nongovernmental organizations alike. The impact evaluations demonstrate the MCC’s commitment to these principles and to implementing programs based on concrete evidence.  The MCC’s willingness to share information on both the successes and challenges of its programs and to apply the lessons learned is a model for the aid community.”

– Sam Worthington, President & CEO, InterAction


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