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No Country Left Behind? Performance Standards and Accountability in US Foreign Assistance

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The accountability movement in public policy hails a new programme for US foreign assistance – the Millennium Challenge Account established in 2004 with the aim of ‘picking winners’ for grants among developing countries based on their demonstrated quality of governance. This article uses the MCA's own rating system to dispute its claim to know in advance which countries are best positioned to meet major development goals. High governance scores alone bear little or no relationship to growth in national income or decline in poverty. Attempting to measure public-policy performance limits the range of choice available to policy-makers, and may inadvertently limit true performance.

Keywords: Governance; Millennium Development Goals; accountability; development assistance; performance measurement

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Professor of Management, University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA ( )., Email:

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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