nings of USAID programs in the field. While a number of USAID’s partners have strong S&T competencies, the missions themselves have limited capabilities to effectively mobilize and focus S&T resources. A relevant observation is set forth in Box 4-5.
Finally, the use of peer review within USAID needs prompt attention. While the concept of peer review to enhance the quality of programs and to measure project results is widely accepted within some offices (e.g., US-Israel Research and MERC programs), the approaches used by USAID to determine when and how to carry out peer reviews are sometimes questionable. Often peer reviewers are recruited from existing USAID contractors. In these cases, questions arise as to the independence and objectivity of such arrangements.
The committee recommends revitalizing USAID’s efforts to harness the power of S&T as an essential input into its programs. Specifically, USAID should strengthen the capabilities of its leadership and program managers in Washington and in the field to recognize and take advantage of opportunities for effectively integrating S&T considerations within USAID programs. The following steps would help achieve this objective.
1. Development of an S&T culture within USAID. The USAID leadership should continually articulate in policy papers, internal discussions, and interactions with host governments the importance of strengthening local S&T capabilities, integrating these capabilities within a broad range of development activities, and incorporating S&T into USAID programs. The agency should establish training programs and related activities that assist USAID officials engaged in designing, implementing, and evaluating programs to develop a higher degree of science and technology literacy. Within the agency, management should encourage technical specialists to pursue innovative ideas during the program planning processes. This commitment of the USAID leadership to integrate S&T into its programs when appropriate is fundamental in ensuring that suggestions 2 through 7 set forth below can achieve a significant improvement in the agency’s use of the nation’s S&T resources.
An institutional culture takes years to develop, but the importance of an S&T culture seems obvious as the stakes for developing countries in using S&T effectively are increasing every year. As noted in Chapter 1, those countries—however poor—that successfully integrate modern technologies within their overall approaches to development will have a clear advantage in the rapidly globalizing world. Even the poorest countries can benefit from a limited S&T assessment capability. Therefore, establishment of an S&T culture within USAID that is reflected in field programs should be a long-term agency commitment with near-term as well as long-term payoffs.