Impact Summary: In October 2018 — just one month after the Energy for Growth Hub was launched — the US Congress passed the BUILD Act with bipartisan support, establishing the US Development Finance Corporation (DFC). This replaced the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) by consolidating modern development financing tools into a single agency to boost development, expand US commercial opportunities, and promote government efficiency.
The creation of a consolidated development finance agency was first proposed by Energy for Growth Hub founder Todd Moss and Hub board member Ben Leo in April 2011. The bill’s passage — in a time of scarce bipartisan cooperation in Congress — reflected diligent work from staffers for Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) and Chris Coons (D-DE) and Representatives Ted Yoho (R-FL) and Adam Smith (D-WA), alongside National Security Council staff. The Hub team collaborated closely with the ONE Campaign, colleagues at the Center for Global Development, and other external supporters.
It was the Energy for Growth Hub’s first big policy win — from a bold but practical proposal to the creation of a competitive, transparent development finance agency with a $60 billion portfolio. The DFC’s investments can help countries to expand infrastructure and create jobs to reduce poverty while promoting American business around the world.
Why It Matters
The Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development (BUILD) Act and the eventual launch of the new US Development Finance Corporation in 2020 was the biggest single step forward in US development policy since the creation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation in 2004 and the launch of PEPFAR in 2003.
The BUILD Act streamlined and strengthened US development finance tools in one agency. It reflected growing demand for partnerships with the United States to deliver jobs, roads, and electricity — instead of aid — to reduce poverty, grow their economies, and confront climate change. It simultaneously created opportunities for American businesses to compete — and provide an alternative to China’s growing influence — in emerging markets across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
The new DFC’s $60 billion portfolio is helping countries to expand electricity access and clean energy supply, build roads, and create jobs to reduce poverty while promoting American businesses around the world.
What We Did
- Hub founder Todd Moss and colleague (now board member) Ben Leo proposed a new, consolidated development finance agency in a Center for Global Development brief in April 2011 and a full proposal in 2015.
- Engaged current and former administration officials, congressional staffers, and development advocates on the idea over the course of seven years.
- Testified to Congress (2013, 2014, 2016, 2017) and produced commentaries on progress (see here, here, here, and here) along the way.
- Pressed for a new development finance agency to make project-level data public and machine-readable, and built a unique scraped database to show how it could work.
- Responded to objections with data to sway skeptics.
- Shaped and influenced the ideas, practical tools, and bipartisan support for the BUILD Act.
Huge win: New, consolidated $60 billion US development finance agency to help countries create jobs and expand energy
The BUILD Act established the DFC as the principal US tool for investing in energy infrastructure and supporting the energy transition in poor countries, replacing the Nixon-era Overseas Private Investment Corporation. The new agency is:
- Bigger: The cap on its portfolio more than doubled to $60 billion.
- More transparent. The bill requires detailed project-level data be made publicly available in a machine-readable format (something we had also pressed for and even built to show how it could work).
- More competitive: New authorities such as equity and a grant window position the agency to move faster and more flexibly.
Our role crafting the policy proposal and building support for a new development finance agency established the Energy for Growth Hub — in its very earliest days — as a credible organization to continue shaping the DFC’s agenda and monitoring its progress.
Bottom line impact → The BUILD Act streamlines and strengthens US development finance tools, allowing the United States to more aggressively tackle global poverty and climate change. The $60 billion portfolio will help countries build energy infrastructure and create jobs — which are at the heart of the Hub’s mission.
- Todd Moss, who crafted a proposal for a consolidated development finance agency with Ben Leo in April 2011.
- Congressional staffers, especially Andy Olson, Tom Mancinelli, Jimmy Walsh, and Andy Taylor.
- National Security Council staff, notably Jim Mazzarella, Nadia Schadlow, and Clete Willems.
- Former OPIC CEOs Rob Mosbacher and Elizabeth Littlefield.
- Tom Hart and colleagues at the ONE Campaign.
- Erin Collinson who led CGD’s policy outreach with Republicans and Democrats in Congress and development advocates.
- Smita Singh of the CGD board, Dan Runde at CSIS, George Ingram at Brookings, and Porter Delaney at Kyle House Group.
Learn more about our work on the DFC.
- Boom! A New US Development Finance Corporation! (October 2018)
- Devex: A New US Development Finance Agency Takes Flight (October 2018)
- Devex: How policy wonks, politicos, and a conservative Republican remade US aid (December 2018)
- Todd Moss launches the Energy for Growth Hub to connect the world to a high energy future (March 2019)
- How Might Think Tanks Make Real Things Happen? Lessons from the Creation of the DFC (April 2020)
- US Development Finance Corporation Lifts Ban on Nuclear Projects, Expands Low Carbon Energy Options