Policy Papers

Policy Papers

Actionable intelligence for real world problems

AidData's Policy Analysis Unit produces applied research to help governments, development partners and civil society organizations solve real world problems. These publications cross three main themes: Listening to Leaders, Partners in Development, and Sustainable Development Solutions.

Avoiding Data Graveyards: Insights from Producers & Users in Three Countries

March 2017

Authors

Samantha Custer and Tanya Sethi (Editors)

Abstract:

In 2016, researchers from the AidData Center for Development Policy interviewed 200 decision-makers and those that advise them in Honduras, Timor-Leste, and Senegal. Central government officials, development partner representatives based in country, and leaders of civil society organizations (CSOs) shared their experiences in producing and using data to target development projects, monitor progress, and evaluate results. The report identifies nine barriers to the use of data and corresponding operating principles for funders and producers to make demand-driven investments in the next generation of development data and statistics.

In the Eye of the Beholder: When is governance data "good enough"?

December 2016 | Governance Data Alliance

Authors

Takaaki Masaki, Tanya Sethi, Samantha Custer

Abstract:

A growing number of governance data producers are investing significant time and resources to evaluate public sector performance in low- and middle-income countries. Yet, surprisingly little is known about how governance data is viewed by those it is intended to influence and whether the data we have today is “good enough” to usher in the policy change we are looking for. This report presents new evidence from a 2016 Governance Data Alliance (GDA) Snap Poll of public, private, and civil society leaders in 126 low- and middle-income countries to answer four critical questions. Delivery Channels: How do these leaders find or source governance data? Use: How is governance data used and for what purpose(s)? Influence: Which governance data do leaders find most useful – and why? Barriers: What are the most prevalent obstacles to the use of governance data?

German Aid from a Partner Perspective

Experience-based Perceptions from AidData's 2014 Reform Efforts Survey
August 2016 | DEval (German Institute for Development Evaluation)

Authors

Bradley Parks, Takaaki Masaki, Jörg Faust, Stefan Leiderer

Abstract:

This groundbreaking study evaluates the policy influence and performance of German agencies from the perspective of those receiving their advice. It is the first to analyze Germany’s official development assistance activities based on the experiences, observations, and opinions of decision-makers in the countries that German aid agencies seek to help.

From Pork to Performance

Open Government and Program Performance Tracking in the Philippines
July 2016 | World Bank Philippines

Authors

Samantha Custer, Hanif Rahemtulla, Kai Kaiser

Abstract:

From Pork to Performance, a study on the political economy of open data for service delivery in the Philippines illuminates the politics of how public resources are spent and the difficulty of the “last mile” of service delivery. This study examines the extent to which technology and transparency can disrupt this low accountability status quo through turning information into collective action to improve government performance by strengthening the accountability relationships between politicians, service providers and citizens.

Governance Data: Who Uses It and Why?

March 2016 | Governance Data Alliance

Authors

Samantha Custer, Zachary Rice, Takaaki Masaki, Rebecca Latourell, Bradley Parks

Abstract:

This report evaluates the use of governance data among policymakers and practitioners in 126 low- and middle- income countries. Research institutions, multilateral development banks, bilateral aid agencies, and civil society groups increasingly produce governance data to identify strong and weaker performers, inform resource allocation decisions, and support domestic reform champions in countries around the world. However, governance data producers know relatively little about who actually uses their diagnostic and advisory tools and why. The objective of this report is to help close this knowledge gap.

Cover art for Listening to Leaders report

Listening to Leaders: Which Development Partners Do They Prefer and Why?

October 2015

Authors

Samantha Custer, Zachary Rice, Takaaki Masaki, Rebecca Latourell, Bradley Parks

Abstract:

Measuring whether, when, how, and why individual development partners have influenced reform efforts in low- and middle-income countries is a challenge that has confounded scholars, practitioners, and policymakers for many decades. In a new report launched in October 2015, AidData draws upon the firsthand experiences and observations of nearly 6,750 policymakers and practitioners in 126 countries to answer these critical questions.

The Listening to Leaders: Which Development Partners Do They Prefer and Why report examines the interactions that decision-makers in low and middle-income countries have with these development partnerships, pulling from their invaluable insights into the most pressing problems they face, their top policy priorities, and thoughts on how aid agencies and other external actors can partner with them most effectively. Listening to Leaders is the second report leveraging data from AidData’s 2014 Reform Efforts Survey. AidData is preparing the next wave of the global omnibus survey to be fielded in 2016.

The Marketplace of Ideas for Policy Change: Who do developing world leaders listen to and why?

April 2015

Authors

Bradley Parks, Zachary Rice, Samantha Custer

Abstract:

Despite considerable time, money and effort expended by donors, international organizations, and NGOs to influence policy change in low and middle income countries, there is a lack of understanding about how they can most effectively influence reform efforts on the ground. In this report, AidData draws upon the firsthand experiences and observations of nearly 6,750 policymakers and practitioners in 126 countries to answer these critical questions.

The Marketplace of Ideas for Policy Change report examines the influence of over 100 external assessments of government performance -- from cross-country benchmarking exercises and watchlists to country-specific diagnostics and conditional aid programs -- on the policymaking process of low and middle income countries. Participants in the survey identified the specific sources of external analysis and advice that were used by key government decision-makers between 2004 and 2013 -- and why. Survey respondents also provided detailed information about reform processes within their own countries, such who has advocated for reform in different sectors and who actively obstructed reform efforts.