USAID defines assumptions as conditions under which the development hypothesis, or strategy for achieving a CDCS Development Objective, will hold true. For each DO, the CDCS must describe relevant critical assumptions and risk factors that lie beyond USAID’s control, but could have a significant effect on the success of the strategy and describe the degree to which the Mission can identify and manage these factors, and how it plans to monitor them during implementation, including whether identified assumptions hold.
USAID's CDCS guidance breaks assumptions into two distinct clusters and asks that Missions articulate both types as they pertain to specific DOs, namely, critical assumptions about factors that are beyond the Mission's direct control, and assumptions about USAID's Partners and their ability to deliver results linked to the CDCS. These two types of assumptions are discussed below. Country information included shows how important assumptions are for understanding, making decisions about, and investing in a proposed CDCS strategy. By convention, assumptions are usually stated positively.
When reviewing trade results in a Results Framework, Missions may find the following list of illustrative assumptions about partners and critical assumptions a useful starting point for discussions.
|Categories of Assumptions||Illustrative Categories of Assumptions for the Result: Improved Trade Performance|
|Assumptions About Partners||Critical Assumptions|
|Financial Conditions (Government)||
|Capacity — Partner||Able to deliver on commitments|
|Capacity — Partner's vendors||Able to deliver on commitments|
|Will — Partner||Serious/Committed over extended period to their Results|
|Performance — Partner||Will deliver as promised — quantity, quality, time, influence||Will deliver as promised — quantity, quality, time, influence|
|Performance — Partner's vendors||Will deliver as promised - quantity, quality, time, influence|
|Force majeure||No unexpected crises||No unexpected crises|
CDCS development teams may also want to make use of the Assumptions Templates provided in this section of the kit for their use: one for Assumptions About Non-USAID Resources and another for Critical Assumptions.
In addition to identifying Assumptions, USAID’s CDCS Guidance asks staff to identify “game changing scenarios” that would have significant implications USAID’s country strategy overall or at the DO level, in a particular sector or region. While not specifically defined, revolutions, the tsunami in South East Asia, and global climate change more generally are changes of this order, as, from another perspective, has been the introduction of cell phones in the developing world. As any scenario of this sort is likely to require special attention in a CDCS, the E3 M&E kit does not include a standard template for describing important changes of this magnitude and their implications.