INTERESTS AT THE POLICY AND INSTITUTIONAL LEVELS IN LESSONS LEARNED
Lessons learned from past activities should be of interest at the governmental and institutional levels, and 10 are set forth below. In the subsequent section of this chapter, lessons of special interest to individual researchers are presented.
1. As previously noted, during the 1990s, U.S.-Russian cooperation in the life sciences and in many other fields was, in a number of ways, a foreign assistance relationship. In recent years, however, scientific cooperation between the two countries has been slowly transforming into a series of partnerships, with both sides playing active roles in planning projects, in providing financing, and in sharing results and benefits from activities. Equitable sharing of direct costs of cooperative programs has been a particularly difficult issue, given the precedent of earlier patterns of U.S. organizations providing most of the financial support to cover direct costs.
The Russian government has gradually increased its contributions to joint efforts. Despite this positive trend, at times U.S. counterparts who have been accustomed to controlling the financial resources have been reluctant to recognize the equality of Russian counterparts when defining objectives, designing project components, developing metrics of success, and jointly managing the overall relationship. Sharing of costs and continued evolution toward truly joint efforts from the earliest stages of planning are essential if joint efforts are to receive political and financial support over the long term.
2. Support, or at least acceptance, by all concerned government agencies in both countries is an important first step in launching a new public- or private-sector initiative or even renewing existing arrangements. A common problem has been the absence at the discussion tables of representatives of one or more important government agencies from the two countries who should have direct interests in the project. Often, it is essential that relevant agencies participate in discussions of significant implementation details as well as simply giving general approval for the general approach.
Aside from the special foreign policy roles of the Department of State and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in advocating joint activities that they consider important, there may not be effective champions within the two governments for guiding proposed activities. International policy officials may be supportive of specific projects, but they rely on technical agencies to work out details. The dispersion of authority among technical agencies requires considerable coordination from the outset. Also, the involvement of private-sector companies and independent research groups may further highlight the importance of coordination.
3. International programs sponsored by institutions in third countries that have objectives similar to those reflected in U.S.-Russian bilateral efforts may compete for the time of interlocutors and important scientific leaders in either