Development experts make recommendations for upcoming US DAC peer review

The United States is slated for its next OECD DAC peer review in 2022, and development experts are offering feedback on both the strengths of US development policies and practices and opportunities to improve. The last US DAC peer review occurred in 2016. 

The Biden administration has shifted away from the Trump administration's “America First” foreign policy to a new approach focusing on a “commitment to global development and international cooperation.” The approach will be outlined in detail in the upcoming National Security Strategy, which is expected later this year. To date, the Biden administration has prioritized addressing the current COVID-19 pandemic, global health security, climate change, democracy and governance, fighting corruption, and pushing for greater localization in development programs. 

Experts suggested areas of review for the DAC peer reviewers, including improving the coherence of global development by the US -- which is currently administered through more than 20 US agencies -- and instituting a more public embrace of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Localization, a clear priority for the US, has been tried without much success in the past. According to experts, the "peer review offers a chance to take a close look at the hurdles intrinsic to the U.S. business model, including time-consuming, multitiered decisionmaking processes (such as the State Department’s Office of Foreign Assistance Bureau), identify factors and indicators of success, and provide recommendations for changes that would strengthen country and local ownership."

Finally, the peer review should consider how the US can best scale its innovations. Although there have been some successes, including programs at the United States Agency for International Development and Power Africa, systematic scaling remains elusive and will require hard decisions and strong leadership to bring about needed long-term results. 

Op-ed - Brookings