TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT AND COLLABORATION 1977 Page
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The need for special attention to delivery systems has been
the experience of the last three decades in the developing world. Timely
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
to organize and manage productive
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Recent AID organizational and
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
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.
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
3. In 1972, the AID Administrator,
with Congressional encouragement, instituted a series of operational reforms with five main objectives:
reduce the official U. S. presence overseas;
place greater reliance on the developing countries for planning and
managing activities that AID helps to finance;
encourage a more collaborative style of working with institutions of
place greater reliance on U.S. private organizations for the
implementation of development activities, with substantially reduced
U.S. Government supervision, and
techniques that simplify the administration of aid and reduce personnel
and administrative costs.
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.
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
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
the New Directions policies that the Agency
has adopted in an understandable
not to ignore or misread Congressional injunctions.
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
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
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
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.
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
remote sensing device has proven useful in identifying
resources for exploitation, diseased crops for replanting, and geological features which affect
road, rail, and pipeline
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