US Development Policy Initiative

The US Development Policy Initiative (DPI), formerly the Rethinking US Development Policy initiative, seeks to broaden the US government’s approach to development while strengthening existing foreign assistance tools. Its engagement with policymakers is backed by rigorous research and analysis of a full range of investment, trade, technology, and foreign assistance related issues.

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The Trump Administration and Development: Read what CGD experts are saying about the new administration’s actions and how it will affect US development policy.  

Foreign Assistance Agency BriefsA set of briefs five key US development agencies for policymakers, researchers, advocates, and others that work on these issues and agencies. Each brief outlines the agency’s mission and role, structure, historical budget, programs, and mechanisms, for delivering foreign assistance.


US development policy is approaching a crossroads. The days of expanding US foreign assistance budgets are fading in the face of prolonged fiscal constraints. The US political environment also increasingly demands that aid demonstrate value, impact, and strategic relevance. Across the world, the need for development finance has changed even more dramatically. Many developing economies have boomed over the past decade, as has the availability of domestically mobilized resources and private capital. As a result, developing countries are focused more on attracting US investment, trade, and technology and less on traditional assistance. This is a sign of progress and success. At the same time, the United States will continue to rely upon foreign assistance tools to confront fragility in places such as Haiti, Pakistan, and parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

US development policies, priorities, and tools will need to shift to respond to this change. CGD’s US Development Policy Initiative reflects this broader agenda while continuing the Center’s tried and true monitoring of US foreign assistance programs and initiatives, such as the MCC, Power Africa, and the Foreign Assistance Dashboard.

Senior Fellow Scott Morris leads the US DPI initiative. Morris served as deputy assistant secretary for development finance and debt at the US Treasury Department. He also represented the US government in the G-20’s Development Working Group and was the Treasury’s “+1” on the board of the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Before his post at  the US Treasury, Morris was a senior staff member on the Financial Services Committee in the US House of Representatives, where he was responsible for the Committee’s international policy issues.

Follow @Morris_ScottA on Twitter.


Rethink logo

Recent US administrations have sought to incorporate key principles of aid effectiveness into their foreign assistance architecture while proposing reforms to boost operational capacity. CGD regularly evaluates US efforts to implement these reforms and principles, which cut across agencies, sectors, and initiatives.

USAID logo

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is the world’s largest bilateral development agency. CGD’s work focuses on strengthening USAID’s position as a leading development agency by providing research and analysis on the agency’s various development initiatives and operational reforms.

MCC logo

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is an independent US foreign assistance agency with a focused mission of reducing poverty through economic growth. MCC’s model of assistance is predicated on key principles of aid effectiveness, including country ownership, transparency, and sustainable results. CGD provides regular analysis and research on the policies, operations, and effectiveness of the agency, along with ideas for innovation and adaptation.

OPIC logo

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is the US government’s development finance institution. It is a leading agency in implementing President Obama’s Power Africa Initiative and the Electrify Africa Act. CGD’s work focuses on how OPIC can most effectively promote economic opportunity and growth.

US Treasury logo

US Treasury leads the Administration’s engagement in multilateral development assistance, participates in bilateral policy dialogue with developing countries, and provides technical assistance related to public financial management in many developing countries. CGD’s research focuses on how the United States can more effectively leverage its role in multilateral institutions and recommendations on how these institutions can adapt to an evolving development landscape.

State Department

As the lead agency on foreign affairs, the Department of State takes the lead in a number of areas of development policy, particularly at the nexus of development and democracy. State is also tightly linked to USAID and houses PEPFAR.

Interagency Development Initiatives

The US government often coordinates the work of various agencies through initiatives aimed at particular development challenges. CGD’s work looks at the impact of these interagency initiatives by exploring their ability to deliver on development goals.