2
Program Experiences to Date: Approaches and Lessons Learned

Dr. Gerald Dinneen of the National Academy of Engineering chaired the Program Experiences session of the workshop, which was devoted to a review of the consultations with agencies and organizations the previous day. A list of participating agencies and organizations in the consultations is provided in Appendix B.

Dr. Dinneen opened the session by reminding participants to keep in mind the question of a realistic role for government. Given a declining U.S. budget for assistance to and cooperative activities with Russia, how can the government continue to encourage, facilitate, and monitor cooperative activities? He suggested that, in part, the answer is for the United States to link its bilateral programs better with multilateral programs and consider more joint activities with other Western countries.

During the consultations, the agency representatives were asked to address the following topics:

  • What have been the most significant impacts of your programs, in terms of both Russian and American interests, and how have you been able to measure those impacts?
  • Looking at the next several years, what program objectives are the most desirable and feasible?
  • What trends within Russia are the most encouraging in ensuring program success? What trends are the most threatening to program success?
  • From the administrative viewpoint, what have been the most important lessons learned in carrying out programs in Russia?

The views of the four coordinators-rapporteurs of the consultative sessions on October 27 follow.



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--> 2 Program Experiences to Date: Approaches and Lessons Learned Dr. Gerald Dinneen of the National Academy of Engineering chaired the Program Experiences session of the workshop, which was devoted to a review of the consultations with agencies and organizations the previous day. A list of participating agencies and organizations in the consultations is provided in Appendix B. Dr. Dinneen opened the session by reminding participants to keep in mind the question of a realistic role for government. Given a declining U.S. budget for assistance to and cooperative activities with Russia, how can the government continue to encourage, facilitate, and monitor cooperative activities? He suggested that, in part, the answer is for the United States to link its bilateral programs better with multilateral programs and consider more joint activities with other Western countries. During the consultations, the agency representatives were asked to address the following topics: What have been the most significant impacts of your programs, in terms of both Russian and American interests, and how have you been able to measure those impacts? Looking at the next several years, what program objectives are the most desirable and feasible? What trends within Russia are the most encouraging in ensuring program success? What trends are the most threatening to program success? From the administrative viewpoint, what have been the most important lessons learned in carrying out programs in Russia? The views of the four coordinators-rapporteurs of the consultative sessions on October 27 follow.

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--> Nonproliferation, Defense, Space, and Related Programs; Applied Technology and Technology Commercialization By David Bernstein (Stanford University) Many programs are in a transitional phase from short-term objectives to long-term ones. A major concern in this transition is how to make individual projects sustainable by means other than continued U.S. government support. Among U.S. government agencies, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has perhaps the largest portfolio of cooperative S&T activities with Russia. The joint activities, which go back over 20 years, have great historical and contemporary significance for both sides. The cooperation has led to such grand-scale projects as an international space station. The joint cooperation has also stimulated creativity on the part of the Russian partners; for example, the Khrunichev State Research Production Space Center built a second cargo module for its own use. There is a long-term commitment to the cooperative program by both the United States and Russia, but financial resources on the Russian side remain a major problem. Another large group of joint activities with Russia, in terms of U.S. dollars spent, falls under the general heading of nonproliferation. Those activities include the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) and the Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP). The ISTC in particular illustrates the importance and benefits of dealing directly with Russian scientists, although with Russian government approval. A growing emphasis on technology commercialization by those who design and implement cooperative programs exists, but much of it is a technology-push versus a market-pull approach. There is little evidence of success in the former and considerable evidence of success in the latter. U.S. programs should be aimed at supporting existing company-to-company ventures. There was widespread concern among the participants over the decline in the number of active scientists and engineers since the collapse of the Soviet Union. It should be noted, however, that there were too many scientists and engineers for the Russian economy to sustain, so a decline was inevitable. The more important question might be the quality and age distribution of the remainder and the numbers who are being educated and are serious about pursuing technical careers. Scientists and engineers moving into commerce might be a necessary realignment of a distorted economy and should not necessarily be viewed as bad. Some of the greatest needs in Russia relate to health and the environment. At the same time, there is not nearly enough money to make much progress in those areas in the short term. It is important to minimize further damage from polluting activities to buy time until remediation is feasible. This strategy can be compared to the original nonproliferation strategy of the United States.

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--> A considerable number of participants commented about the absence of contract law and intellectual property rights (IPR) law and enforcement. This is a serious situation and must improve. However, many successful companies have built their ventures on a sound relationship more than on legal protection. IPR is most problematical for old technology in which it is impossible in most cases to obtain a clear provenance. For new technology, it is not nearly as bad. Many companies rely more on trade secrets and fast product cycles than on patents. Other observations included: Agency and organization representatives recognized the need to build the relationships between partners in any type of project. It was noted that of new technologies perhaps only 10 percent are commercialized in any country. This is not an insignificant figure, however, particularly as those 10 percent grow and absorb more people. No centralized source of data exists on technologies that are available in Russia, but various databases are being developed or exist. It is necessary to bring the Russian S&T personnel into the project planning process for cooperative activities as much as possible so as not to go back to a top-down Soviet-style program implementation. Finally, there is a major need for a mechanism of financing projects before they become self-sustaining. Foreign Assistance By John A. Daly (Consultant) The common thread of the programs not only of the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) but also of the World Bank and UN organizations is the emphasis of two objectives of assistance to Russia: democratization and the transition from coercive governance to a more open and participatory governmental system; and economic restructuring, especially the transition from a centrally planned and directed economic system to a decentralized and free-market system. In terms of science, the requirements are very broad and include bringing knowledge from economics to bear on policy and the management of enterprises; bringing knowledge from epidemiology to bear on the allocation of health resources and the delivery of health services; and bringing knowledge from ecology to bear on the preservation of bio-diversity and the protection of the environment. Technological change is needed to efficiently produce high-quality goods

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--> and services that are appropriate to the Russian domestic and export markets and that do not pose great environmental or safety risks. New technologies are needed to make preexisting productive systems in Russia work better. Technological innovation is necessary to reduce the technological isolation that Russia faced in the past and to utilize Russia's technological know-how as a development tool. The need to bring scientific knowledge to bear on Russia's problems and to make radical changes in technology is complicated by the fact that the S&T system is itself in flux as part of the institutional change in Russia in the 1990s. S&T financing has decreased dramatically; many S&T institutions are moribund or greatly weakened; scientists and engineers have left Russia or left their professions in large numbers; young people are not being recruited into these professions in adequate numbers; and the scientific and technological physical infrastructure (equipment and instruments) in many areas is aging and deteriorating. It is difficult to measure how much progress has been made in strengthening the historically weak linkages between research and development and education and industry, but certainly they remain weaker than one would desire. A major emphasis of AID is in the energy sector, which is beset with problems, including the high cost of energy to the final user, the high levels of pollution of the environment (for example, the production of greenhouse gases and other air pollution), and inadequate safety. The vast costs of modernization and conversion have made it impossible for the Western governments to make a meaningful contribution to the solution of those problems. Also, in areas such as nuclear power, liability of U.S. companies that become involved is a major concern. AID is encouraging improved policies and reform of institutions in the energy sector, but it also recognizes that fundamental technological changes are needed. Such changes include deepening technological mastery in the operation of energy plants to make them more efficient, less polluting, and safer, as well as shifting production from processes using less desirable technologies to those using better technologies. AID is encouraging such changes by a number of initiatives, which include training and technical assistance, demonstration projects, and efforts to encourage linkages of Russian organizations with U.S. firms that have better technology and better technology management expertise. The technological nature of health programs is less fully appreciated than is the case for energy reform. AID's health program emphasizes policy issues, building health institutions, and reform. A portion of the program focuses on pharmaceuticals and getting the right drug or vaccine to the patient at the time it is needed. This involves manufacturing pharmaceuticals of high quality at low cost, importing appropriate pharmaceuticals if necessary, and distributing them in a timely and efficient manner. Even more basic is enabling the knowledgeable choice of technology by the final user. For example, in the case of family planning, couples need to make informed choices of contraceptive techniques and have relevant goods and services available. Thus, again in the health sector, to-

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--> gether with efforts to help Russia reform health policies and institutions, AID is facing fundamental technological issues. In the area of environment, AID also deals with a variety of scientific and technological issues as well as policy and institutional issues. At one extreme, AID has helped to save and modernize one of the most important collections of germ plasm in the world, the agricultural gene bank and collection of the Vavilov Institute. Russia faces fundamental needs to deepen technological mastery that allows productive processes to be used cleanly, or to encourage the adoption of clean technologies. AID is promoting the transfer of appropriate technology to contribute to the management of nature preserves and natural resources, including geographical information systems. In the case of industry, Russian enterprises must make high-quality products if they are to meet the demands of domestic and international markets, and they must sell at competitive prices and avoid environmental or safety problems. The reform of the productive sector involves policy changes, institutional reforms, and the creation of market institutions. Again, the transition in the productive sector has critical technological aspects. AID, while encouraging the policy and institutional reforms necessary for the transition of Russian productive enterprises, is also contributing to the technological transition in this area. Efforts described ranged from giving technical assistance to small enterprises to making financing available to those enterprises for technical and other investments and giving courses in commercialization of technology. AID is also seeking conditions that will enable U.S. firms to bring technology to Russia through trade and investment. The private channels of technology transfer and technological cooperation are likely to be the most important in the long run. Thus, AID programs in each sector involve technological activities. The agency has no general S&T policy for Russia, however, that deals with cross-cutting issues, nor is there an overall S&T policy for U.S. government programs. Lack of such a policy might have some unfortunate results. If the transformation of the S&T system is not successful in training new generations of scientists and engineers, employing them professionally, providing them with the facilities necessary to carry out efficient and high-quality professional work, and financing the whole cycle, then the long-term ability to apply S&T to national needs will be threatened. The AID budget for the Newly Independent States (NIS) was cut from $900 million in FY 1996 to $625 million in FY 1997. The administration recommended $900 million for FY 1998, and the Congress now seems likely to appropriate on the order of $750 to $770 million. An estimated $200 million will probably be earmarked for Russia. The health sector budget has been greatly reduced, and AID is seeking to encourage multilateral donors to fund the expansion of its successful projects. In the case of the environmental programs, efforts are under way to transfer the lessons learned in pilot projects to other areas in Russia.

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--> Many positive impacts of AID-funded projects were cited (e.g., specific results of demonstration projects or specific policy or institutional reforms), but the diversity and complexity of the program made it very difficult to understand overall national impacts on the Russian transition. This is the "attribution problem." With radical policy and institutional change going on, with many negative trends occurring simultaneously, with many donors providing assistance, and with some problems in our understanding of the processes at play in the transition from communism, it is difficult to quantify specific changes in national indicators that are solely attributable to AID programs. It is simply not known what would have occurred if U.S. assistance had not been present, or how much worse the situation would now be. Thus, large-scale positive results could in fact have occurred; but even if they occurred they would be inherently difficult to observe and to link causally to U.S.-funded cooperative programs. Discouraging trends in Russia abound. Gross domestic product is much below its historically highest level. Health service expenditures have decreased, and health services have deteriorated, as has health status. Government concern for environmental protection has been downgraded. Nuclear and other energy plants are aging. Scientific and technological manpower has been radically reduced, and many S&T institutions are in trouble. On the other hand, there are some indications that Russia has turned an economic corner, and one informant called current government officials the "last best hope" of the transition. Similarly, administrative lessons abound from our experience with Russia. The lessons were learned during years of effort to eliminate taxes and duties on foreign assistance; to improve understanding of Russian managerial, scientific, and technological culture; and to improve models for administrative, economic, and policy reform. Mission-Oriented Programs By Bruce L. R. Smith (Brookings Institution) Nine mission agencies reported on their cooperative S&T programs with Russia. The picture that emerged was of a highly varied, dynamic, and shifting picture that defies tidy summary. Some success stories were noted. Other agencies pointed to current and long-term problems. The mission agencies generally do not engage in specifically targeted programs to assist Russian S&T as such (except for the large efforts by the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense that are carried on under the Nunn-Lugar mandate and other specific legislative authorizations). Rather, the mission agencies support American scientific institutions or constituencies and only engage in cooperative ventures to the extent that they might promote their missions. For example, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has long supported Russian scientists when they are part of an American research effort (e.g.,

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--> interferometry in radio astronomy and earthquake observations). NSF, however, also played an important role in the establishment of the Civilian Research and Development Foundation, which supports Russian scientists directly. NSF also provided funds to U.S. nongovernmental organizations to encourage international collaboration, such as its funding of the American Physical Society to promote collaborations between American and Russian physicists by providing funds for journals and Russian scientific meetings. Significantly, many scientific projects are international in character, and thus wide participation is often necessary. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has supported Russian scientists as part of its ongoing visitors program. The mission is to expand the pool of biomedical researchers for collaborative efforts and to support specific research deemed important to achieve NIH program goals. For the purposes of future planning, participants in the consultations agreed that all forms of scientific cooperation should be considered. S&T cooperation for the purpose of this review was therefore broadly defined to include support of basic and applied research, technical assistance, training, exchanges, E-mail communication, and fellowships. OSTP and the agencies need to analyze what forms of cooperation and what combinations of research support or technical assistance will contribute, over time, the most to program goals. Most agency representatives and workshop participants broadly agreed that a major goal should be to achieve institutional reform whenever possible. Any form of scientific cooperation that strengthens institutions or individuals that obstruct the larger goals of American policy–assisting Russia to make the transition to a stable democracy and market economy–would not be in our national interest. Hard choices remain. If an important objective is to help maintain world-class Russian science, for example, existing elite institutions probably deserve help. Yet to channel S&T cooperation through a centralized, academy-dominated system would not nurture future scientific growth as much as a more university-centered system. At a minimum and to the extent practical, U.S. mission agencies should attempt to avoid the heavy dominance of the scientific effort by nonuniversity-affiliated institutions. Can the mission agencies or any other part of the government meaningfully promote institutional change without running into conflict with the Russian academic establishment? Can U.S. government agencies seek institutional reform without provoking conflict with Russian scientists who resent American intrusion? U.S. visa policy was another problem area identified by some agency representatives. U.S. visa policy should be reviewed to determine if the government has unintentionally contributed to a Russian brain drain or, alternatively, has made it difficult for some Russian scientists and students to visit the United States. An overall objective for American government technical agencies–and for the private sector–is to maintain contact with Russian scientists and intellectuals so that Russia does not feel isolated and cut off from the flow of Western ideas and influences. As investment increases and private-sector contacts deepen, the

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--> "normal" flow of ideas, people, goods, and services that now characterizes the American S&T relationship with Western Europe will increasingly take shape. In the interim, government policy that attempts to nurture technical cooperation with Russia will remain important. A challenge will be to assess the overall impact of the numerous uncoordinated mission programs and to gain a broad contribution to Russian science while continuing to operate necessarily within a mission framework. Support of Russian Research and Education By Harley Balzer (Georgetown University) Russia is a large, complex country going through massive changes. Program results will be contradictory. There will be successes and failures; some successes might appear accidental, whereas some failures might appear for people who do absolutely everything "right." In looking at S&T relations with Russia, there is a need to be philosophical. Russia is neither "just like the United States," nor is it another planet. Indeed, it might be easier if it were Mars, for then Americans could build special equipment and would not have any preconceived expectations. It is a society that has been through massive trauma about once each decade in this century, and it has evolved powerful institutions. It has a "rigidly chaotic" administrative style and an environment in which mistrust is a major feature. However, it is also a society with a tremendous number of talented S&T specialists. The Russian culture has not changed rapidly, which is no great surprise. Of particular relevance to this discussion are the facts that in the past, Russian groups did not always cooperate with each other and they tended to hoard information. Positive changes include an increasingly open nature of governance and society; increasing reliance on competitive peer review in allocating some resources; and most striking, a wide access to electronic communication. Negative trends are primarily continuations of old habits (e.g., information hoarding, acceptance of chaos and dysfunctional elements, and pessimism) and the failure to implement institutional reforms. Lack of adequate institutional reforms is probably the most serious obstacle in basic science and education. For international S&T, reforms are needed in the areas of taxes, customs, and intellectual property rights. Domestically, the needed reforms have to do with institutional structure and funding patterns. Pessimistic views appear to come most clearly from U.S. institutions that do not see any way to continue formal programs of cooperation with the Russian Academy of Sciences or similar entities rooted in the Soviet era, which the U.S. institutions consider to have a limited future in Russia in their current forms. More optimistic notes are sounded by those Americans working with nongovernmental organizations, small businesses, and small groups of researchers.

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--> U.S. programs and the Russian crisis are now entering a new phase. The Freedom Support Act is about to decline precipitously, forcing many existing programs to the verge of extinction. At the same time, Russia has exhausted the intellectual and infrastructural capital it inherited from the Soviet era and faces a tremendous challenge in replacing those costly necessities. Funds for bricks and mortar are the hardest money to raise everywhere. In the absence of a clear Russian central government policy, the best approach is to work with the local institutions that seem to be receptive, and to do this with limited and realistic goals, including the realization that the United States is not going to "save" the institution; if some institutions are saved, it may not be fair to the other institutions, but it will be important; and some programs will fail or will have unintended consequences. We should be willing to work with the federal and local governments, when they show a willingness to be cooperative. However, cooperation is a two-way process; they will not just accept whatever we say. Some Russian S&T leaders have indeed recognized that reform is crucial and inevitable. This is especially true in the educational sector. Many people in Russia and the United States see a panacea in commercialization. The new mantra asserts commercialization as the solution to such problems as sustainability, exit strategies, and funding cuts. However, few know how to carry out commercialization, and even the people who succeed realize it might cover only 10 percent of development activities. Commercialization is only viable as a long-term program of economic development, and there is a need for S&T management training. The best exit strategy is teaching and training in Russia so that not everyone hoards information, with the realization that it will not work all the time. In short, programs need to be targeted, the programs should encourage competition in Russia, and they should accept variable results.