USAID’s Digital Investment Tool: An Approach to Incorporating Digital Development Best Practices in Your Activity


Many USAID activities implement digital systems* to make development more adaptive, efficient, and responsive to citizens and decision-makers. Using digital systems can help USAID improve the effectiveness and efficiency of activities and support partner countries on their journey to self-reliance through increased information sharing and improved government and civil society capacity. Over time, USAID has learned that these investments often face predictable challenges that can be addressed at the design phase. The Digital Investment Tool is designed for mission staff to ensure that USAID and its implementing partners consider best practices, based on the Principles for Digital Development, when developing digital systems.

This tool is intended to support work planning, either on a stand-alone activity such as an e-government activity, or on a component of an activity such as a market information system within an agricultural development activity. There are 13 best practice topics, “elements”, to select from. Each element contains a scale from Nascent to Optimized. Participants mark where they are and discuss where they would like to be. By providing five stages, we acknowledge that USAID and its partners must often make strategic choices about where to invest their time and resources—it isn’t all or nothing.

The tool is intended to support a participatory process between USAID, its implementing partners, and stakeholders who are involved in designing, creating proposals for, evaluating, and making purchasing decisions on digital systems. Ideally, the facilitator will have some technical experience with digital technology. A facilitator’s guide is available at the end of the tool.

Access the tool by clicking the “Download” button.

Acknowledgements: The content for this tool is based on the USAID Global Health Bureau’s Digital Health Investment Review Tool. Special thanks to contributors from that initiative, the Digital Impact Alliance, and the digital development community.