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Standard Indicators

The Department of State and USAID, drawing on technical expertise within both agencies and from within the development and security communities, have jointly developed standard indicators to measure both what is being accomplished with U.S. Government foreign assistance funds and the collective impact of foreign and host-government efforts to advance country development. In the past, indicators were developed and tracked separately by the two agencies, and could not be easily consolidated to provide a comprehensive picture of the results that were being achieved with foreign assistance resources.

Standard Indicators

Because the Agency needs to be able to report externally on the results produced by its development investments, USAID has identified some performance indicators as the best choices for characterizing progress in each of the sectors and technical areas in which it works. This set of indicators, called standard indicators, is to be given priority over alternatives wherever a particular standard indicator would be applicable.

Thus for example, for the result: time/cost to move goods across borders reduced, the options for measuring time range from minutes, to hours, to days or weeks. USAID’s list of standard indicators makes that choice for everyone – it picked days. Standardization of a limited set of indicator that are widely used across for a particular type of project allows for modest amount of data aggregation on a worldwide basis. For this reason, it is important to consult USAIDs standard indicator list at the start of an indicator selection process, and to adopt those that otherwise represent good indicators for various results on the Mission’s Results Framework. Many of USAID’s standard indicators are appropriate for measuring performance at the DO, IR or even sub-IR level. Some of them, however, are more appropriate at the project level, where activities involving individual participants and beneficiaries are tracked.

For Missions with a trade focus in their CDCS Results Frameworks, USAID’s list of standard indicators includes a relatively small number of performance indicators that might find to be valid measures for the CDCS Results Framework, including at the Sub-IR level. These include:

  • Foreign trade (X+M) as a percentage of GDP
  • Time to export/import (days)
  • Number of documents required to export/import goods across borders
  • Number of quantitative restrictions and quotas eliminated this year
  • Number of firms receiving USG assistance that have obtained certification with (an) international quality control institution(s) in meeting minimum product standards.

Other standard indicators for trade will be more appropriate as project level measures.