Yesterday, Andrew Mitchell, the new UK Secretary of State for International Development, made a speech. I thought it was rather a good one—lots of talk about effectiveness, ‘evidence-based’ decision making, and value for money. It also actually included some concrete initiatives—the creation of a new independent watchdog “to gather evidence about the effectiveness of DFID programmes’; and a guarantee to be fully transparent on all of the government’s overseas aid spending.

Both ideas sound pretty interesting. After all who can argue too much with effectiveness and transparency? And though there is the question of how this all works in practice—evaluation can be quite expensive after all—it all seems a step in the right direction. Apparently Sweden does something similar, so it must be a good thing. And maybe if it works for DFID, why not do something similar with other government spending departments?

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