recognition that other aspects of foreign assistance were also of significance throughout the agency, such as supporting the evolution of civil society in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and elsewhere. With the name change also came changes in personnel, and the cadre of talented specialists with technical expertise began to shrink. During the 1990s, the overall agency personnel ceilings declined sharply, and many technically trained employees were among those who were forced out by the agency’s management in order to meet the requirements of Congress and the Administration. The Research Advisory Committee and other science-oriented organizations soon disappeared.

Shortly after the turn of the twenty-first century, a new structure of central “pillar” bureaus emerged. A Bureau for Global Health was established to respond more fully to the high priority given by the Administration and Congress to addressing a wide range of health and population issues, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, voluntary family planning, and maternal and child health. A parallel Bureau for Economic Growth, Agriculture, and Trade (EGAT) assumed the responsibility of supporting innovation in fields other than health and population, and particularly agriculture, energy, natural resources management, and information and communications technology. A new Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance also had considerable interest in S&T. This interest included application of technologies in anticipating and responding to natural disasters and in responding to other humanitarian emergencies. In addition, the bureau turned its attention to expanding the use of the social sciences in understanding and responding to development problems of fragile states.

In mid-2005 USAID initiated the process of establishing a new part-time position of Science and Technology Adviser to the Administrator on a part-time basis, and the agency began recruiting for the position. The decision to establish the position apparently was triggered by the appointment of a well-known agricultural scientist as Science Adviser to the Director of the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID). Perhaps, the interim report of this study, which stated that the present committee was considering a recommendation concerning an S&T adviser, also provided some stimulus. In any event, the responsibilities of the position and the activities of the office, if established, will probably evolve over a period of many months or perhaps years. The comments of the committee set forth in the report should assist in this evolution.

ERODED STAFF RESOURCES

As repeatedly mentioned, the technical capabilities of the USAID staff have steadily atrophied during the past 15 years. When the overall personnel ceilings declined during the early 1990s, USAID emphasized retention of generalists who were able to manage a variety of activities rather than employees with in-depth knowledge of specific fields. However, such in-depth expertise, both to help solve problems and to assist in anticipating problems, is essential if the full



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement