Making aid RANDy

By Simon Scott, Counsellor, OECD Statistics Directorate

rand
Entrance to the RAND headquarters in Santa Monica in 1968 (photo courtesy of the RAND Corporation)

It was the go-to think tank for the US Department of Defense during the Cold War. It was where Nathan Leites deciphered The Operational Code of the Politburo and Paul Baran conceived the “hot potato routing” system that would lead to the Internet.

But the RAND Corporation, spun off from an Air Force project with the Douglas Aircraft company to do Research ANd Development on intercontinental warfare, was active across the whole field of international relations. And at the height of East-West tensions during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, DoD contract number ARPA/SD-79 had it investigating … a better way to measure foreign aid.

Up until that time, all official flows from rich to poor countries had been summed up indiscriminately, whether they were grants or loans, and whether or not they targeted development. John Pincus of RAND came up with a new idea – get rid of the non-developmental aspects and “reformulate the definition of aid [so that] all forms of aid are reduced to their value as grant or subsidy.”

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Setting the Record Straight on ODA

By Doug Frantz, Deputy Secretary-General, OECD 

Doug FrantzThere will never be enough development aid to solve all the problems in the poorest countries. If we are to lift the last 800 million people out of extreme poverty we will need to find new ways to mobilize resources beyond the traditional assistance from wealthy governments in the form of loans, grants and other concessions.

Government assistance remains vital. The billions of dollars donor countries pour into developing countries every year are critical both in terms of actual aid and as a catalyst for mobilizing private sector funds and underpinning the efforts of developing country governments and civil society. Yet there is a consensus that the role of development aid must adapt to changes in the geography of poverty and to the new lens of the Sustainable Development Goals.

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