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“It has brought about a significant change in the way we look at how and where we give our development assistance,” said the former congressman and current fellow at the German Marshall Fund.

The program, and Mr. Bush’s broader development strategy, win praise across party lines and from major aid advocates such as Bono, lead signer of rock band U2, who on a trip to a school in Ghana funded by the program last year bragged about being part of its genesis.

Ghana has been a major Millennium Challenge success story all-around. When President Obama, who has been a backer of the program, visited last year, Ghanaian President John Atta Mills gushed about a road built with Millennium Challenge money.

“You should have seen the joy on the faces of the Ghanaians because there had been a radical transformation in their lives,” he said. “I mean, that is what governance is all about — to see people happy because they now have what they did not have.”

Mr. Parks said the program has helped even in countries that haven’t been awarded money, an impact he dubbed the “MCC effect.”

This year, he released a report for the Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations at the College of William & Mary that found countries strive to meet goals for protecting property rights and decreasing corruption — though it hasn’t been as successful in pushing democratic reforms.

“The thing that’s very striking about the MCC effect is the United States government is effectively incentivizing governments in the developing world to adopt policy reforms without ever spending a single taxpayer dollar,” Mr. Parks said.

He said the Millennium Challenge Corp. doesn’t fund flashy programs such as child immunizations or aiding refugees, but it is “funding the hardware of economic development, which is one of the key ways that developed countries got developed.”