Development Assistance and Governance Initiative

About the Development Assistance and Governance Initiative

The Development Assistance and Governance Initiative at Brookings aims to influence how aid and development policies are used to tackle global poverty and today’s pressing development challenges.

Development assistance faces new challenges in a more inter-connected world. New solutions are needed to deal with state fragility and conflict, to develop local capacity, improve national governance, and address transnational threats. New actors, such as emerging middle-income countries, multinational corporations, mega-philanthropists, and an energized global public led by high-profile advocates and civil society organizations, have become seriously engaged with development; while new challenges also arise due to the enormous power of individuals and corporations with global reach. New rules, indicators and tools are required to scale up what works, and these involve the use of modern technology, transparency and evaluation, South-South cooperation, public-private collaboration, and international division of labor. At the same time, support for development assistance hinges on the ability to better demonstrate impact, value for money and accountability.

Through its target areas of research, including global aid effectiveness, governance, anti-corruption efforts, and U.S. global development reform, the initiative offers critical recommendations to policymakers with the goal of improving development outcomes for millions around the world. The Brookings Blum Roundtable is the initiative’s signature event, bringing together U.S. and international development professionals to discuss timely and important issues in the field.

The substantive work of the Development Assistance and Governance Initiative is led by a core team of scholars, including Fellow Laurence Chandy, Senior Fellow George Ingram, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director Homi Kharas. A number of other accomplished Brookings scholars within the Global Economy and Development Program help to support and carry out the work of the initiative.

Global Aid Effectiveness


As the international debate on development effectiveness intensifies—through the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, implementation of the G-20 Development Multi-Year Action Plan, and the countdown to the Millennium Development Goals’ 2015 deadline—so will demand for a new agenda. Brookings’ research suggests ways to: bridge the gaps in transparency to understand who is doing what in aid, and where; expose funding gaps in countries, priority sectors and agencies; solve organizational challenges in the aid architecture; allocate aid in ways that promote improved governance and anti-corruption, and address incentives gaps that thwart necessary collaboration and innovation, or the replication and scaling up of what works. Brookings experts have engaged in a multi-year program of research and policy dialogue on aid architecture and other international aid efforts, including the evolution of public-private partnerships and emerging non-traditional donors in global development.

Governance and Anti-Corruption

Good governance and control of corruption in developing and industrialized countries are critical to achieving and sustaining better development outcomes and improving aid effectiveness. By using evidence-based research and policy analysis, including worldwide indices and a vast database, Brookings experts develop practical recommendations and tools to refocus attention to priority areas, such as: factors affecting donor allocation decisions and development outcomes, including both donor and recipient-country governance; the linkages between governance and growth, poverty reduction, and other development goals; and determinants of success of investment projects by aid agencies. Research and recommendations are broad-based, traversing beyond the challenges of corruption, and also encompass democratic accountability and participatory civil society, regulatory and transparency reforms, rule of law and government effectiveness.

Reform of U.S. Global Development Efforts

Reforms to make the United States’ policies and operations for development support more effective require overarching strategy, rational structures and modern statutes as well as improvements at the agency level. The reflection inherent in such modernization raises critically important questions about the organization and international leadership of the United States as it aims to catalyze sustainable development outcomes while alleviating poverty and human suffering, countering transnational threats, and supporting the emergence of capable partners. Brookings experts seek to shape a more coordinated and deliberate U.S. foreign aid system operating within a broader coherent set of U.S. development policies capable of catalyzing sustainable development outcomes.