One Year In: Reforms, Cost Savings, and Bold Agenda

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, January 19, 2011
USAID Press Office

Washington, D.C. - Today, marking his first year as USAID Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah delivered a major address on The Modern Development Enterprise, highlighting a savings of $65 million over five years in operational costs, addressing the current state of development and formally announcing the Agency's 50th anniversary. The speech also launches the Agency's new policy for evaluation. It is a concrete sign of USAID's renewed emphasis on evaluation, measuring and documenting program achievements and shortcomings, and generating data on what works to drive decision-making.

Highlights from the speech include:

Purpose of speech and outcomes:

  • "You don't need another speech on the principles that define our approach. What I'm here to say is that USAID has been busy executing that approach, generating real results for the American people and the developing world."
  • "As the President, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense have all made clear: development is as critical to our economic prospects and our national security as diplomacy and defense. That's why our reforms are not trying to build an updated version of a traditional aid agency. We have an obligation to perform at even higher level. That is why we are seeking to build something greater: a modern development enterprise."

    Oversight and Evaluation

  • "In many instances our project evaluations have been commissioned by the same organizations that implement them...This has led to a relationship between implementing partners and evaluators akin to that between investment banks and rating agencies. Just like investors couldn't tell the difference between triple-A investments and junk, taxpayers can't tell the difference between a development breakthrough and projects that fall short."
  • "But I want to make it clear: we do not work for our contractors, our contractors work for us."
  • "To further demonstrate our resolve, I've created a new suspension and debarment taskforce, led by Don Steinberg, my Deputy Administrator. This task force will provide a coordinated effort to closely monitor, investigate and respond to suspicious activity."

    Evaluation Policy

  • "Today, I'm announcing a new evaluation policy that I believe will set a new standard in our field. By aggressively measuring and learning from our results, we will extend the impact of our ideas and knowledge.
  • Every major project will require a performance evaluation conducted by third parties, not by the implementing partners themselves.
  • Instead of simply reporting our results, like nearly all Aid agencies do, we will collect baseline data to explain what would have happened without our interventions, so we can know for sure it was those interventions that made a difference.
  • And in the spirit of the extreme transparency I promised when I joined USAID, we will release the results of all of our evaluations within three months of their completion, whether they tell a story of success or failure."

    Program Graduations and Restructuring

  • "I have asked my teams to continue to reassess our relationships to emerging markets and to work with the State Department to accelerate graduations from assistance where practical. By 2015, we believe USAID can graduate away from assistance in at least seven countries, starting with Montenegro in 2012."
  • "We need to understand that unlike other industries-unlike an enterprise-we have no interest in our own growth. We seek to put ourselves out of business, replaced over time by efficient local governments, thriving civil societies and vibrant private sectors."

The text of the speech can be found by going to:

Last updated: January 27, 2014

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