There is widespread agreement that we cannot make fully informed decisions about the best way to invest limited resources without information about how much it costs to achieve desired impacts. Comprehensive cost data are also critical for making responsible decisions about scaling and sustaining programs within host country systems. To address the current lack of information about costs of specific components of education programming across different contexts, the USAID Office of Education developed a Cost Reporting Guidance that aims to transform how we collect cost data across our education portfolio and support integration of robust cost-effectiveness analyses into our evaluation practice. The Guidance allows USAID to standardize the capture and reporting of cost data across the entire education portfolio and accomplish the following objectives:
- Estimate levels of investment needed to produce desired outputs;
- Understand differences in costs of producing the same outputs across different contexts;
- Map out program cost structure (cost of development, implementation, scale up; cost of management, M&E and reporting, etc.) and levels of host government and private sector support needed;
- Calculate cost per outcome and cost-effectiveness of comparable interventions.
Here are the main elements of the Guidance:
- The Guidance structures how implementers of USAID awards with cost requirements report their expenditure. The Guidance contains a list of common expenditure categories from which implementing partners will be able to select ones that are relevant for their work. This list includes the following general categories:
- General management and operations (mandatory for all projects),
- M&E and reporting (mandatory for all projects),
- Teacher training,
- Teaching and learning materials,
- Policy/capacity development,
- Private sector assessment/engagement,
- Parents/community involvement,
- Safe schools and infrastructure,
- Scholarships and cash transfers,
- Block grants, and
- Other (if applicable)
Projects are also required to create sub-codes for development and implementation activities for categories with a substantial development component.
- The Guidance structures how implementers of awards with cost reporting requirements document and report activity-critical inputs from other sources, including donated resources such as volunteer time, in-kind equipment/ infrastructure and services, and any beneficiary/stakeholder inputs and other unpaid inputs that are often not accounted for in traditional budgets. Implementers are not required to monetize these inputs, unless this information is readily available.
- The Guidance requires that implementers of awards with cost reporting requirements document and report details of the intervention, both as outputs and the dosage at the beneficiary level.
Download the full text of the Guidance and the Annexes, Frequently Asked Questions, and USAID’s presentation on this reporting requirement.
Please visit the Discussion Board for questions and answers relating to the implementation of the guidance, and to post your own questions.
Join The Conversation
Questions and Answers
Purpose/data analysis/data use
Setting up cost reporting
Cost reporting categories and sub-categories
Reporting on third-party contributions