TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT AND COLLABORATION (1977) Page 4 of 4
International Development Foundation
The contribution of the United States to worldwide development
would be enhanced by the establishment of an International Development
Foundation (IDF), which would be a catalyst and coordinator of U.S scientific,
technical, and education
activities related to development problems. This Foundation would be governed by a board of
trustees with both public and
private members, the latter in the majority.
IDF might be established on a permanent basis by the Congress,
with multi-year authorization for sustained work on the major
development problems. Annual appropriations would be sought; the IDF should not
be under pressure to obligate
all of its funds
on an annual basis.
The IDF would be autonomous, in the sense the National Science
Foundation is autonomous; its Executive Director would be appointed by
the President and confirmed by the Senate.
The purposes of the IDF would
knowledge of the nature of the
the application of U.S. and international research competence to
the search for solutions to critical scientific and technical problems
of developing countries;
access to U.S. research and technical resources for developing countries;
the growth of institutional and individual capacity in developing countries for
research and experimentation on development problems;
to encourage technical cooperation by U.S. institutions
with institutions in developing countries on topics of mutual interest
such as food production, environmental quality, and population; and
to assist U .S. private
and voluntary organizations and foundations
to contribute effectively to international development.
In order to accomplish these
objectives, the foundation would perform the
1. It should serve as a central source of knowledge concerning research
needs and priorities on selected development problems.
The Foundation would need a relatively small but highly
qualified staff capable of grasping the scientific dimensions of key
problems and interacting as peers with
scientists in U.S. and international research
institutions working on these problems. It should keep current with the
advancing frontier of knowledge concerning these problems, and be able
to advise the administration and cooperating research institutions on
The Foundation should
periodically organize thorough reviews of research
priorities in selected problem areas. The World Food and Nutrition study
is a model for such reviews. The WFNS should be updated every four or five years, and
similar studies should be sponsored in
health, population, education and human development.
IDF should serve as coordinator and catalyst of research and development
problems by government research facilities.
Increasing international interdependence suggests that increasing
priority should be given by the research arms of many U.S. departments
and agencies to problems of international significance. Broadening these
research interests will take time, however. Congressional committees
governing departmental budgets tend to be strongly oriented toward
domestic interests. Departmental staffs, including researchers, also
have a strong domestic orientation that will take time to
The Foundation could assist these
agencies in targeting development problems. These agencies could also
serve as catalyst and guide, if they accepted broader research
responsibilities. Initially, it would be enabled to
contribute supplemental funding for its research on priority development
problems and to support and assist agencies using research funds generated abroad under PL 480. The Congress and
the departments should accept the addition
of research on development problems of mutual interest as an integral
part of departmental missions. Research on problems only of interest to
the developing countries would, however continue to be funded by the IDF.
3. The Foundation would enhance
the contribution of U.S. universities and private research and training
facilities to the solution of key development problems.
It should have authorization in all development fields to focus attention on research priorities
identified in the proposed periodic reviews by:
sponsoring research competitions;
contracting for research; and
building up the
capacity of selected institutions to work on particular problems.
4. It would encourage and
support U.S. participation in international research and development
programs on development problems.
As the official U.S. donor to the Consultative Group on
International Agricultural Research, the
Foundation would be in a position to support linkages from the international centers back to the
basic research resources in the
United States, and forward to the national research systems in developing
In other fields, the international cooperation may offer similar
advantages and opportunities, and should be explored by the Foundation.
5. It would improve access
to U.S. training and research facilities by the developing countries.
The Foundation would strengthen foreign student orientation, language training,
and other programs which
prepare foreign students for studies in the U.S. It would ensure the existence of
adequate mechanisms for
of appropriate U.S. training facilities by institutions and individuals from developing countries, and
for placing students.
The placement of foreign students is a highly professional job: the
Foundation should be prepared to assist in the placement of DCA-funded students
as well as students funded by the Foundation
or the developing countries.
Experimental courses designed
for the special needs of students from developing countries in such
fields as low-cost health delivery systems, economic planning and
project appraisal, and cross-cultural child-rearing studies would be
supported. Training for Americans preparing to work abroad, such
as the personnel of private and voluntary agencies, could also be
provided or supported by the Foundation.
Support would also be available for the U.S. share of
joint research projects undertaken collaboratively by U.S. institutions and institutions in the middle-income countries.
6. It would help to build indigenous capacity for
training, research, and experimentation, through:
funding training in the U.S. and third countries for
prospective local institution staff members;
funding research projects and competitions;
sponsoring regional conferences on key problems;
promoting links between U.S. and international research
efforts and local institutions;
strengthening indigenous training institutions and
in-service training programs;
making grants when necessary for equipment and furnishings;
supporting experimental and pilot projects.
7. It would help public and private foundations and voluntary
organizations interested in development to become
With regional field offices staffed by technically qualified
people knowledgeable of the local conditions, the Foundation would be in
a position to assist private foundations and
voluntary organizations to target their efforts
more effectively. Field office support might also be made available to
publicly supported development and people-to-people programs such as the
Appropriate Technology International, the Inter-American Foundation, and
the Peace Corps.
The IDE should have regional field offices, headed by
senior representatives at ten or twelve locations in the developing
world. They would maintain contact with research and development institutions in the region, and with collaborative
projects between those institutions and others in the United States. The typical field
office might have three to five
core staff members, who would have a long-term commitment to
and knowledge of an
area, assisted by one or two technical consultants in each problem area in
which the office was working. The
consultants would normally be on leave, for two to three years, from a university
or research center with interests in the area. Local and
third country consultants could
also be employed where possible.
Projects or programs requiring more staff would normally be undertaken
by other institutions, funded by the Foundation through grants or
contracts. Their logistic support would come from the field offices.
Like the Peace Corps, the field offices would normally not be part of
the U.S. Embassy. They might be attached to a university or research
institution. Country project leaders or IDF staff, where posted,
would, of course, be responsible to the Ambassador and would coordinate
their activities with country DCA missions in those countries receiving
concessional assistance. As indicated in the body of the report,
technical assistance associated with capital goods transfers and DCA-financed
projects for delivering goods and services would remain in DCA. The
Foundation’s focus would be on the adaptation or creation
of knowledge, or experimentation on the uses of knowledge in developing
Periodically, since at least l964, recommendations
have been made by committees and commissions concerned with scientific
and technical relationships with developing countries, for the creation
of a public foundation or institute to
facilitate the task. This persistence of the idea is impressive; so is the recurring resistance to
it. The discussion below seeks to examine not only how the IDE could mitigate the shortcomings of the present
also its potential defects.
A major concern
of those skeptical of the public
foundation approach is that it could become a vehicle for funding U.S.
research of only peripheral
value to the developing
countries. This is a potentially serious problem. The proposed
systematic periodic review of research priorities on key problems, and the creation of field offices that can
identify research and
needs and opportunities, should help to meet it.
2. Technical Qualifications
One of the principal reasons for
establishing a public foundation is to create a professional environment that will
attract technically qualified staff. This would only be possible,
however, if the Foundation management had flexibility in staffing; the
automatic transfer of staff from AID would mitigate
the supposed gain. Measures to
facilitate personnel movement between the
Foundation and universities
and research institutions would be important. Legislative provision for this
latitude would be required.
3. Contracting Procedures
contracting procedures for research and personnel services would be
essential. Attempts to simplify AID procedures
have apparently met with little success in recent years. The proposed
Foundation would only be able to institute procedures compatible with
the type of work to be performed
if the need to do so was explicitly recognized in legislation from the start.
Development, research, and experimentation
deal with unknowns; it is consequently difficult to be precise about the
components and methodology that
will eventually yield the best results. It is often even difficult to
set concrete norms for results. The principal
test of the
effectiveness of the use of funds
should be the periodic professional review of the Foundation’s program. Such a peer-review
process, which should involve knowledgeable people from developing countries, seems to us
most likely to permit the creation of an atmosphere of professional
dedication to solving critical
to yield the maximum return to the taxpayers’ dollars.
5. Foreign Policy
While it is appropriate and necessary for
concessional resource transfers to be responsive to long-term
U.S. foreign policy concerns,
it is less clear that this is the case with respect to U .S. scientific
and technical work on solving development problems. The creation of a public
foundation would help to insulate this work from foreign policy
Problems will arise, however, if the Foundation has a cooperative
relationship with an institution in a developing country that begins to
deny the fundamental human rights of its citizens or, like India or
Egypt in recent memory, passes through a period of strained official
relations with the United States. Each case would present different
require different responses; on balance it would have been advantageous to the United States and to India
and Egypt to continue scientific and technical
cooperation on development problems through the period of estrangement.
Options should be open, on the U.S. side, for
continued cooperative work on long-range problems, even during periods of considerable official
6. Size and Constituency
A serious potential defect in the public foundation concept is
that it exposes research expenditures
attack, particularly by critics of foreign aid. When
research costs are part of a much larger budget, they are less vulnerable to such attacks.
Research and experimentation is by nature high-risk;
it will inevitably be possible to isolate unsuccessful, unproductive
and, seen out of context, apparently silly
efforts for criticism and ridicule. If this vulnerability were to result
in diminished funding for research, the anticipated gains in quality
would be dearly bought. This exposure might be mitigated if, as
recommended in the body of the report, the Foundation were
also charged with support
for U.S. private and voluntary agencies that wish to help developing countries (such
as CARE); these have large constituencies which will be of great help in generating
support for the IDE.
Continuity of Funding
of the Foreign Assistance Act provides multi-year authorization for
work on food and nutrition problems, but requires annual appropriations
of funds. Under this
and other titles, contracts and grants of up to five years can be made by AID, although the Agency
has recently preferred to limit
three years. The Foundation should be enabled to enter into five-year
arrangements that can annually be extended for one year, in order to
ensure the continuity of funding which is
necessary to attract the best scientists, while at the same time providing the ability to curtail
expenditures on ineffective or unsuccessful programs.
8. Interagency Relationships
between the IDF and the DCA should take place at all levels, including
the board of directors, and should provide a full exchange of
information on activities. Each institution
should maintain a capability to manage its own affairs, but each should
be able to call on the other for assistance in providing specialized
services. In the field, the IDF would
have a regional orientation and the DCA would have a national
orientation. DCA would not be represented in middle-income
The limitations on the direct
transfer of technology, institutions, and
policies from the advanced to the developing countries are
more clear than
in the past. In some cases, adaptations and adjustments of limited scope
may suffice, but the more difficult development problems will require
new knowledge for solution.
Sustained and self-reliant development requires the creation,
within each country or region, of a range of institutions capable of
designing and adapting technologies, and of devising the means of
delivering information and services to the broad masses of people, both
urban and rural.
One of America’s most cherished assets is
its ability to focus scientific and technical skills on the solution of
practical problems. These skills have been underutilized with respect to
development problems. The challenge deserves the best that our
institutions have to offer. Institutional changes to facilitate
application of higher-quality scientific, technical, and educational
abilities to the task of building the capacity
of developing countries to achieve their development goals should be part
of the response.
“Proposal for a Program in Appropriate Technology,”
transmitted by AID to the House Committee on International Relations,
February 7, 1977, U.S. Government Printing Office.
(2) “Report of the Review Team on the International Grants
Program”, AID, September 25, 1973, Mimeo.
(3) World Food and Nutrition Study, National Academy of Sciences
(4) World Food and
Nutrition Study: The
Potential Contributions of Research, National Academy of Sciences,
Washington, D.C. 1977.