BROOKINGS: TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT AND COLLABORATION  1977   Page 2 of 4

IV. Institutions

          The need for special attention to delivery systems has been highlighted by the experience of the last three decades in the developing world. Timely and valuable as this concern for distribution is, however, there are dangers in overemphasizing delivery systems at the cost of neglecting the institutional framework for problem-solving. In the long run, the basic needs of the poor majority can only be satisfied by the development of their own capacities to understand and deal with their problems. The ultimate objective must be to create the indigenous capacity to analyze problems, create or adapt technology, and to organize and manage productive activities.

          Thus, while it is vitally important to focus on delivery systems that reach the people living in poverty, it is also important to continue building the research and development capacity of local institutions. In this task, research and training institutions in the United States have a major role to play through collaborative relationships. U.S. analytical capacities and problem-solving attitudes are as valuable as technical knowledge in building local, relevant research and development capacities.

V. Policies

          Even if policy objectives are sharply defined, it is seldom possible to calculate precisely the differential impact on groups in a developing country or the effect of policies on the growth rate of the economy. The data base and measuring systems are typically inadequate, and the numbers of available trained analysts small. The consequent absence of confident solutions places a premium on research, experimentation and sharing of experience.

          To summarize the encouraging advances of recent years in finding more effective means for dealing with development problems, one can say that a new appreciation of the complexity of the development process is widespread, and that this has led to innovative adaptations in the use of technology, institutions, and policies to deal with them. The thrust of these adaptations is to engage broader numbers of the people in the development process, to focus on the special needs of the poor, and to create more equitable societies. This process of adaptation has only just begun, and it will not end soon, if ever. The value of U.S. participation in the process will be greatest in the next ten to fifteen years, while the indigenous capacity for analyzing and dealing with local problems is being built. The U.S. contribution should involve not merely sharing existing knowledge, but using high-quality skills and institutions in finding solutions to the particular problems of developing countries, and building institutional capacity in those countries.

          It should be emphasized that the collaborative search for knowledge of value to developing countries will yield important benefits to the United States as well. Many of the problems of developing nations are U.S. problems as well, and frequently the success of those countries in dealing with their problems will have a direct bearing on U.S. interests; examples include food production, pollution, population, energy, disease, drugs, and employment. So powerful is the mutuality of interest in worldwide advances of knowledge in these areas that one may question whether some part of the costs of U.S. technical collaboration with developing countries should properly be called foreign aid. Clearly, the term technical assistance no longer adequately describes the relationship.

VI. The Institutional Framework for Technological Collaboration

The challenge to U.S. institutions now is to find more and better ways to bring scientific, technical and educational resources to bear on building institutional capacity in developing countries, and sharing with them the task of solving critical development problems. This is obviously more difficult than simply sharing what we know; it calls for a change in style from the didactic to the experimental.

          Scientific and technical relationships with developing countries have always posed a problem for our government. Concentrations of specialized talent are in Federal departments and agencies with heavily domestic responsibilities. AID, on the other hand, is an operating agency with the primary responsibility for managing the transfer of resources to developing countries.

A. Recent AID organizational and policy changes

          When the technological problem was perceived to be one of transferring skills and know-how, AID could handle it much like other transfers, at least conceptually. As the more complex nature of the relationship between technology and development was revealed through experience, the Agency made organizational and policy accommodations.

          It may be useful to review briefly some of these organizational accommodations and innovations of recent years, and some of the means through which other Federal agencies work with developing countries, before offering judgments on the adequacy of the present institutional framework.

          Several organizational innovations and policy reforms have had particular pertinence to AIDís technical performance: the enactment of Section 211(d) in 1966, the creation of the Technical Assistance Bureau in 1969, the policy reform of 1972, the New Directions of 1973, and passage of Title XII in 1975.

          1. Section 211(d) was added to the Foreign Assistance Act in 1966 for the purpose of strengthening the capacities of U.S. universities to work effectively on development problems. It was implemented through fully funded five-year grants, which averaged around $5 million per year from 1967 to 1973. (2)  New grants and extensions have run slightly over $2 million per year since then. The decline in expenditures in recent years is partly a response to the New Directions emphasis on programs that more directly affect the poor, and partly an assessment by the Agency that more attention should be placed on the utilization of capacities already created than on continued capacity creation.          2. The Technical Assistance Bureau (TAB) was set up in 1969 to mobilize technical talent, to serve as a research and development Center for AID, and to provide an overview of several key development problem areas. Research expenditures by the Agency have risen in recent years, mainly due to the professional leadership of TAB and the Population Bureau. In FY 1978, the TAB research budget, roughly half of which was devoted to U.S. contributions to the centers supported through the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research, was $47.6 million, and the Population Bureau research budget was $17 million.

          The Agency continues to be ambivalent, however, about funds spent to deepen understanding of development problems, as opposed to short-term operational research directly related to projects. Generally the latter receive more emphasis. The disadvantage is that research needed for the solutions of long-term problems tends to be neglected.

          TAB has sought to retain a longer-range focus, but field-mission directors and the staff of regional bureaus have understandably tended to perceive more pressing needs for the time of technically competent staff and for available funds.

          This contrast in viewpoint between TAB and the regional bureaus affects the linkages between research and the Agencyís programs in the field. A secondary effect is that less has been learned from field experience than might have been the case if the central problem-focused staff were better connected with field operations. This situation has tended to improve, but is hampered by lack of sufficient technical staff in the field missions.

3. In 1972, the AID Administrator, with Congressional encouragement, instituted a series of operational reforms with five main objectives:

    To reduce the official U. S. presence overseas;

    To place greater reliance on the developing countries for planning and managing activities that AID helps to finance;

    To encourage a more collaborative style of working with institutions of developing countries;

    To place greater reliance on U.S. private organizations for the implementation of development activities, with substantially reduced U.S. Government supervision, and

    To develop techniques that simplify the administration of aid and reduce personnel and administrative costs.

          Some progress has been made in meeting these objectives, but the results are mixed. AID missions abroad have been reduced; indeed, they may now be too small to supervise in detail some of the complex and experimental projects involved in New Directions programs.

          Somewhat greater reliance on institutions in developing countries for planning and managing AID-assisted activities has been achieved, but this process cannot go far without conflicting with AID monitoring and reporting requirements. The degree to which a more collaborative style of interaction with host institutions has evolved is a subjective judgment, but again the internal requirements of the Agency and the Congress would seem to work against true collaboration. It is difficult to achieve a collaborative relationship when the recipient is asked to certify compliance to a 100-item checklist concerning matters unrelated to the project under negotiation, and when a Congressional Appropriations Committee several bureaucratic layers removed from negotiators in the field must pass on all projects before initiation, and must approve any increase in cost that may be found necessary due to developments that occurred between the submission of the project to the Congress and its implementation as much as 18 months later.

Private contractors are now often employed in designing projects and are generally turned to for implementation. Contracting procedures are, however, a subject of many complaints, particularly from universities. Competitive bidding procedures designed for the procurement of goods and routine services often result in awards going to the swift and eager rather than the best qualified. While price competition takes place in a minority of cases, the agency strives constantly to increase competition rather than rationalize a system to meet its needs. For example, a university may help to design a project and then, in the interest of competition, be barred from bidding on the execution. Those invited to bid, on the other hand, often receive too little information on which accurately to judge their interest, and have too little time to make staff arrangements. The contracts often call for a specious precision regarding costs and procedures, which is inappropriate in experimental, high-risk tasks. Although it was intended that Government supervision of the contractors would be substantially simplified, supervision has tended to increase due to internal and Congressional pressures for a higher order of management and control.

          4. AID responded with enthusiasm, after some uncertainties and delays, to the New Directions legislated in 1973. It is too early to judge the success of this focus, but some of its costs are now apparent. There has been a decline in the attention given to building up central institutional capacities in the developing countries, particularly research and planning institutions. Under a narrow interpretation of the New Directions, it is difficult to make the case that the small farmer will directly benefit from research, particularly when research programs give priority to export crops that are frequently grown by larger farmers.

          The New Directions mandate has also had the effect of narrowing the focus of AIDís expenditure for training, although the Agency does support specialized training related to projects.

          5. Congress added Title XII to the Foreign Assistance Act in 1975. This provision calls upon the Government to strengthen the capacities of land-grant and other eligible universities in program-related agricultural institutional development and research; to improve their participation in U.S. and international efforts to apply more effective agricultural sciences to increasing food production; and to provide long-term support to the application of science to solving food and nutrition problems of the developing countries. Title XII also calls for the participation of the universities in the planning, development, implementation, and administration of food production and nutrition programs. To this end, a Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD), with a majority of University representatives, advises the Agency.

         Title XII provides a long-term authorization for greater university involvement in all phases of technical work on agricultural development. Its potential contribution has yet to be realized, however. This is largely due to the cumbersome and time-consuming procedures set up by the Agency to implement the Title, which have extended the normally long AID lead time, and to the narrow interpretation of the New Directions policies that the Agency has adopted in an understandable concern not to ignore or misread Congressional injunctions.

B. Other Federal Agencies

         An informal survey of the international scientific and technological activities of 15 Federal agencies by the Organizing Group of the Council on Science and Technology for Development found a substantial array of international activities underway, but no evident set of objectives for the scientific and technical component of U.S. development activities. In many cases, agencies are carrying out research overseas in pursuit of their domestic objectives, but without deliberate consideration of foreign policy or development goals.

         In addition to research activities abroad related to domestic problems, agencies have opportunities to work abroad by participating in international organizations, providing reimbursable technical services to AID and foreign governments, and utilizing counterpart funds resulting from the PL 48O program.

C. Research abroad

         In cases where domestic objectives can be better pursued abroad, overseas research is justified in agency budgets. For example, USDA supports a laboratory in Buenos Aires to study insects affecting water hyacinths, alligator weeds, and other weed species -- all this in search of better means of weed control in the U.S. A narcotics substitution project in Pakistan and Thailand is also seen to be relevant to domestic goals. The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta has a valuable collaborative relationship with the Cholera Research Center in Dacca.

D. International Organizations

         All fifteen concerned domestic agencies have formal or informal links with international organizations in their areas of interest. For example, the Department of Agriculture coordinates U.S. participation in FAG, plays a role in the World Food Council, the agricultural aspects of the UN Development Program, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and participates informally in the agricultural research consortium known as CGIAR. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration works with developing countries in the World Weather Watch program, under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organization. The National Geological Survey participates in several international research programs sponsored by international organizations. The involvement of these agencies with international organizations in some cases produces tangible scientific benefits, and in others strengthens useful collegial ties with scientists from other countries.

E. AID-financed technical services

         AID is able to draw on the scientific and technical resources of other agencies through Participating Agencies Service Agreements (PASA). Currently, 61 specialists from other agencies serve in AID projects abroad, of whom 51 are from the Department of Agriculture. In addition, under similar agreements, 169 Washington-based staff of other agencies are available to AID for technical assistance on a full- or part-time basis. The services provided include training in Federal facilities as well as technical advice.

         Other reimbursable programs are financed by foreign countries under bilateral agreements; for example, USDA personnel are working with Saudi Arabia to establish a research center in Riyadh and with the Mexicans to eradicate screw-worms.

          NASAís LANDSAT Program is in a class by itself. Approximately 150 countries, mostly in the developing world, purchase LANDSAT data. AID, IBBD and FAQ, among other donor agencies, use the images in their projects. This remote sensing device has proven useful in identifying resources for exploitation, diseased crops for replanting, and geological features which affect road, rail, and pipeline construction.

F. Counterpart funds

         In a few developing countries, e.g. Burma, Egypt, Guinea, India, Pakistan and Tunisia, local currencies are available to Federal agencies to support activities. In FY 1976 alone, HEW obligated the equivalent of $l4.9 million for scientific research abroad using these funds. USDA supports 360 overseas research projects.

         The potential value of PL 4.80-financed research programs is large, but not fully realized because of a lack of policy and coordination of the multitude of projects. Systematic programming of the funds on a national basis could increase the effectiveness with which they are used. (Continued)



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