5
Interagency Interests and Opportunities

OVERLOADING THE CAPABILITIES OF THE DEPARTMENT

STH considerations dominate many of the interactions between the Department and other departments and agencies. As a result of the soaring volume and increasing complexity of these interactions, traditional mechanisms for handling the Department's relations with other departments and agencies are overloaded. There are growing concerns that at times (1) foreign policy decisions may not give adequate weight to the views of important elements of the governmental STH community and (2) inter-agency reviews and coordination may unnecessarily delay or complicate the implementation of international programs of the departments and agencies.

According to one analysis, more than 60 departments and agencies support international STH activities carried out through more than 200 programs, with many programs consisting of large numbers of projects; the annual expenditures for these programs exceed $1 billion.1 Against this broad panorama of activities, the committee reviewed the interests and selected activities of eight departments and agencies; they are responsible for about 90 percent of the federal civilian R&D budget and

1  

 Interagency Working Group on U.S. Government-Sponsored International Exchanges and Training, 1997 Annual Report, p. 6. Available from the Office of Exchange Coordination, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Information Agency, Washington, DC 20547-0001 (telephone 202-260-5124).



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The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State 5 Interagency Interests and Opportunities OVERLOADING THE CAPABILITIES OF THE DEPARTMENT STH considerations dominate many of the interactions between the Department and other departments and agencies. As a result of the soaring volume and increasing complexity of these interactions, traditional mechanisms for handling the Department's relations with other departments and agencies are overloaded. There are growing concerns that at times (1) foreign policy decisions may not give adequate weight to the views of important elements of the governmental STH community and (2) inter-agency reviews and coordination may unnecessarily delay or complicate the implementation of international programs of the departments and agencies. According to one analysis, more than 60 departments and agencies support international STH activities carried out through more than 200 programs, with many programs consisting of large numbers of projects; the annual expenditures for these programs exceed $1 billion.1 Against this broad panorama of activities, the committee reviewed the interests and selected activities of eight departments and agencies; they are responsible for about 90 percent of the federal civilian R&D budget and 1    Interagency Working Group on U.S. Government-Sponsored International Exchanges and Training, 1997 Annual Report, p. 6. Available from the Office of Exchange Coordination, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Information Agency, Washington, DC 20547-0001 (telephone 202-260-5124).

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The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State therefore represent much of the STH capabilities supported by the U.S. Government. The committee gave particular emphasis to long-duration international commitments, programs, and projects while recognizing that often ad hoc projects of short duration can also be important both to the STH community and to the Department. Although each department and agency has its own particular set of international interests, some common threads warrant attention. The international interests and programs of most departments and agencies are expanding. A large number of activities are mandated in legislation (International Space Station [NASA], protection of nuclear material in Russia [DOE]). Of these, many are extensions of domestic programs that are affected by international developments or can benefit from international cooperation (environmental protection of the Great Lakes [Environmental Protection Agency, EPA], oceanographic investigations in foreign waters [NOAA]). Other programs flow from the policies and priorities of intergovernmental and other international organizations (World Health Organization [WHO] programs on infectious diseases [Department of Health and Human Services, HHS]). Still others are undertaken to obtain scientific inputs from foreign researchers or to share costs with interested foreign organizations. A few international STH activities receive continuing attention at the highest levels of the executive and legislative branches in Washington (e.g., global climate change, nuclear nonproliferation regime, U.S.-Japan cooperation and reciprocal access to Japanese technological developments). The impacts of specific incidents involving U.S. researchers on bilateral scientific relations can sometimes be profound, as reflected in recent reports concerning the mishandling of nuclear weapons data at U.S. laboratories. At the other extreme, many cooperative activities of individual researchers supported with government funds attract very little attention, including projects that may have global or regional implications (e.g., research grants for individual investigators awarded by NIH and NSF). In short, the departments and agencies are widening their global perspectives and expanding their international activities. International organizations are finding greater political support for a variety of global programs involving STH issues that are central to the missions of the departments and agencies. American industry and American scientific organizations are increasingly looking for support from the departments and agencies as they strengthen their international activities. Thus, the responsibilities of the Department for staying abreast of and assisting with these types of activities will continue to grow. To carry out these responsibilities, the Department must have effective mechanisms for interacting with many elements of the U.S. Government.

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The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State TYPES OF INTERAGENCY INTERACTIONS Many types of interagency interactions have been in place for decades. New interactions usually are linked to initiatives of individual departments and agencies. Sometimes initiatives originate in the White House. Often foreign governments propose new programs, and their proposals require responses that sometimes involve cooperative activities. On occasion, the Department stimulates STH programs of other departments and agencies in order to serve foreign policy objectives. Whatever the origin of an international activity, the Department seeks to ensure that it is consistent with foreign policy objectives while the originator of the proposal seeks a foreign policy that will facilitate, or at least accommodate, the activity. Among the most important types of interagency interactions in addressing international STH activities are the following: Coordinated support of five vice-presidential-level bilateral commissions, which accord considerable priority to cooperation in STH (i.e., commissions involving Russia, China, Ukraine, South Africa, Egypt). Development of the concepts, frameworks, and details of umbrella intergovernmental STH agreements, which are coordinated and negotiated by the Department and counterpart ministries of foreign affairs: The activities carried out within the framework of these umbrella agreements are usually the responsibility of selected departments and agencies. Thirty-three umbrella agreements are in place with a new agreement with Vietnam currently being developed. Review and approval of requests from the agencies for authorization for negotiating and signing memoranda of understanding (MOUs): More than 790 MOUs with STH content are in place, not including those in the national security area. The Department considers 90 percent to be "binding" and therefore requiring action on the part of the U.S. Government.2 Many MOUs are within the framework of umbrella agreements, while others 2   This estimate was provided in March 1999 by a Department official charged with tracking such agreements. A definitive total is unavailable due to the discontinuation of reporting requirements that previously existed under Title V. The effort required to prepare the reports was deemed to far outweigh their value. However, there is now a need for more accurate accounting of international STH agreements. In addition, the 790 figure does not include the large number of contracts and other subagreements to implement programs. For example, NASA has 3,000 active international "agreements" of some type. A discussion of the international agreements of a number of key departments and agencies is included in "Federal Research: Information on International Science and Technology Agreements," United States General Accounting Office, April 1999, GAO/RCED-99-108.

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The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State are independent of umbrella agreements. The process of gaining approvals to negotiate and/or sign MOUs (as well as umbrella agreements), referred to as the Circular 175 process, involves the concurrence of interested Department offices, particularly the Office of Legal Adviser, and other agencies that have an interest, such as the Office of the Trade Representative, which is particularly concerned with intellectual property rights. Support of bilateral STH relationships not called for in formal agreements: Most countries want to have some type of STH relationship with the United States with or without agreements, and most of the time such arrangements involve departments or agencies using either their own budgetary resources or funds provided through USAID. In any event, U.S. embassies are under constant pressure from local STH communities to expand bilateral cooperation, and requests for locating interested partners for cooperative projects frequently end up on the desks of the departments and agencies. Assistance in gaining access to facilities, people, and geographic areas: Some programs require special arrangements for access to territorial waters, airspace, sensitive government facilities, environmental samples, and biological specimens. These arrangements usually involve formal requests from the Department to counterpart governments. As one example, in 1998 the Department requested clearances for more than 300 voyages by U.S. research vessels, with each voyage involving, on average, access to the territorial waters of more than three countries. Thus, the Department, acting through the embassies, sent about 1,000 diplomatic notes requesting clearance, received 1,000 answers, and took steps to ensure that trip reports were filed with each of the governments granting access. In some countries local scientists joined the cruises, and additional diplomatic interactions were necessary.3 Support of activities of international organizations and multilateral negotiations: With more than two dozen major international organizations having significant interests in STH developments, the Department requires (1) preparation of a continuing stream of position papers touching on many interagency issues; (2) designation of members of delegations from a variety of departments and agencies to meetings of the organizations; (3) implementation of internationally agreed-upon programs that draw on the resources of the departments and agencies; and (4) budget negotiations in Washington to obtain the required and voluntary contributions to the organizations. 3    This estimate was provided in March 1999 by a Department official responsible for tracking these clearances.

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The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State U.S. responses to major security and humanitarian crises (e.g., resettlement activities in Kosovo, continuing confrontations in Iraq, devastation from Hurricane Mitch, demining challenges in Bosnia, refugee problems in Rwanda, forest fires in Southeast Asia): STH capabilities of the departments and agencies support such responses in many ways in addition to military responses, including the deployment of high-technology communications equipment, provision of medical and food support, advice on approaches for stopping degradation of agricultural lands and water supplies, and predictions of impending droughts and floods. Removal of impediments encountered in implementing long-duration international programs: Even though programs may have been operating overseas successfully for many years, there are often administrative or policy issues that arise and can be resolved only through intervention by the Department with the counterpart foreign ministry. Facilitation of programs in the United States involving foreign participation: Foreign participants usually require visas, and on occasion there may be foreign policy or security objections to their proposed activities in the United States (e.g., access to DOE weapons laboratories, Cuban visitors). Individual consultations and visits by agency officials, scientists, and contractor personnel abroad: These consultations may be to review activities underway, to coordinate shared program interests, or to explore the possibility of initiating new activities. In some cases, significant foreign policy issues may be involved, although in many cases there should be little need for the Department to follow the technical issues. Acquisition and dissemination of information concerning STH developments abroad: Although various departments and agencies have direct connections with counterpart agencies and individuals abroad and can obtain a great deal of information through their own networks, the embassies are often in a position to provide the broad science policy context within which technical activities are being carried out. Also, the embassies may be the first to learn of high-level personnel shifts or budgetary decisions that are significant to the departments and agencies. Coordination of overlapping interagency interests and resolution of interagency disagreements: Many international programs are of interest to several departments and agencies with complementary capabilities. Also, there are often conflicts among the economic, security, and technical interests of the departments and agencies that need to be resolved. The Department frequently assumes responsibility for ensuring that inter-agency problems are addressed and, if necessary, sent to the Office of the President for resolution. Use of the Department's external program funds: The offices subordinate to the Undersecretary for Global Affairs and the Undersecretary for

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The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State Arms Control and International Security administer STH-related program funds totaling hundreds of millions of dollars annually (e.g., humanitarian assistance, counternarcotics activities, environmental diplomacy workshops, U.S.-Israeli bilateral foundations, science centers in Russia and Ukraine, nonproliferation programs). Frequently, other departments and agencies play critical roles in the implementation of programs supported by these funds, and the Department must ensure that the programs are responsive to a variety of interagency interests. Support of U.S. industrial interests abroad: There are frequently concerns over the activities of U.S. companies abroad, particularly in balancing the promotion of private-sector economic interests with export control limitations and with constraints imposed by U.S. economic sanctions. The views of the Department and other departments and agencies may diverge on such issues. Obviously, these types of interagency interactions cover a broad spectrum of day-to-day activities, ranging from the issuance of individual visas to negotiation of global regimes that affect activities in many countries. The interests and involvement of the departments and agencies are manifold, and only through effective interagency partnerships can the Department assume an international leadership role in a broad range of STH-related activities or even meet its minimal international obligations. IMPROVING INTERAGENCY PROCESSES Transferring Responsibilities for Selected Activities Although resource constraints are a central consideration in efforts of the Department to upgrade its capabilities to interact with other departments and agencies, significant steps to improve efficiency in interagency forums should be possible without large influxes of new resources. As discussed in Chapter 2, additional resources are clearly warranted in some areas, but realistically the Department will have many demands on new resources that become available, and support of interagency activities may not be its highest priority. Thus, it is important to face directly the reality that the Department simply does not, and probably will not, have sufficient personnel or the technical wherewithal to adequately discharge all of its current STH-related responsibilities, let alone assume additional responsibilities as new opportunities for integrating STH capabilities with foreign policy objectives arise. At the same time, it appears that some activities currently managed by the Department could be managed effectively by other departments and agencies.

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The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State Recommendation: The Department, in consultation with other departments and agencies, should transfer responsibilities for STH activities to other appropriate and willing departments and agencies whenever there is not a compelling reason for retaining responsibilities within the Department. Of course, the departments and agencies should keep the Department informed of developments where significant or sensitive foreign policy issues are involved. Indeed, the deliberate transfer of responsibilities with continuing coordination should be more effective in ensuring an integration of STH activities and foreign policy than a situation whereby other departments and agencies undertake international activities on their own and simply avoid the Department due to the overload in its administrative and foreign policy channels. By dispersing selected responsibilities to departments and agencies capable of adequately handling them, the Department should be able to move toward a better balance of responsibilities and available resources. For example, consideration should be given to having NSF play an expanded role in managing the activities of the bilateral U.S.-Israeli foundations. NOAA might take on the task of preparing the paperwork for all requests for research ship clearances, with State being responsible only for the negotiation of requests with counterpart foreign ministries. In terms of emerging issues, NSF might be given responsibility for addressing the scientific dimensions of intellectual property rights that are of concern internationally, whereas HHS, working with USAID, might be assigned the lead for formulating international policies to address the suppression of infectious diseases. This list is just a beginning, and a systematic review of opportunities for transfers of responsibilities is in order. Of course the departments and agencies that are asked to assume greater responsibilities may want to obtain additional personnel and financial resources; and the resource issue must be addressed prior to transferring responsibilities. In some cases, consolidating responsibilities within other departments or agencies already devoting resources to the activities of interest should reduce the total resource requirements for managing the programs, although resource requirements will have to be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. There are many examples of departments and agencies other than the Department having the primary role for programs and negotiations of international organizations (e.g., USAID at the OECD Development Assistance Committee, HHS at WHO, NOAA at the World Meteorological Organization, EPA at the OECD Chemicals Committee). Expansion of this practice could help reduce the problem of overload. For example, there seems to be no reason for EPA not to assume more responsibility for

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The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State U.S. participation in the United Nations Environment Programme and in the negotiation of a new toxic substances agreement. Consideration should be given to having NSF serve as the agency responsible for liaison with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization in the absence of U.S. membership in this organization. NSF and the Department of Commerce might take on greater responsibility for science and technology activities at OECD. All of these shifts should open opportunities for the staffs of the other departments and agencies to take on much of the preparatory burden for meetings that is currently shouldered by Department officials. The Circular 175 Process The Circular 175 process calls for review by appropriate offices of the Department and by other interested departments and agencies, as determined by the Department, of each proposal for a new or modified international agreement. Most of these proposals originate within individual departments and agencies. This is a major activity, with dozens of proposed STH agreements under review at any given time. The process is filled with inefficiencies and delays, and administrative problems associated with the process are at the root of many interagency conflicts. Also, foreign collaborators eager to enter into cooperative activities are often bewildered and apprehensive concerning bureaucratic delays in establishing the necessary political framework for cooperation. Recommendation: The Department, in consultation with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and other departments and agencies, should streamline the Circular 175 process, which calls for inter-agency reviews of proposed international agreements and bilateral memoranda of understanding. Many international activities are carried out without the need for an MOU or other formal agreement that is subject to the Circular 175 process. Clearer guidelines are needed as to when a proposed activity reaches the threshold of a formal agreement and therefore needs Circular 175 clearance and when and how a dormant agreement should be canceled, keeping in mind the interests of other governments that may have budgetary or other reasons for requiring and maintaining formal agreements. To ease the process of canceling meaningless agreements, the ''sunset" provisions now included in some agreements might become a regular component of agreements unless there are compelling reasons against such provisions. Several steps should ease the Circular 175 clearance process. First, the Department should prepare standard language for commonly used

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The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State provisions of agreements in addition to the language already available for intellectual property rights, business confidential information, and national security interests. Second, the Department should encourage the adoption of language in MOUs that conforms to the language of umbrella agreements when such overarching agreements are in place. Third, each agency should consider developing or adopting user-friendly handbooks for its staff on how to prepare an MOU similar to the handbook of the Department of Energy. Role of the Department in Implementing STH Agreements The details of many international projects are reviewed in interagency forums many times over—as they are developed, modified, and implemented. The initial reviews are important to ensure that proposed activities are consistent with foreign policy objectives, both on a global basis and in country-specific situations. In politically sensitive cases, the Department should monitor activities on a continuing basis, but most activities do not warrant intensive scrutiny by the Department. Joint reviews by the Department and the concerned agencies each year or every two years of major, long-duration STH programs and projects could lead to interagency agreement on a reduced role for the Department during implementation activities once adequate coordination mechanisms are in place. Blanket clearances by the Department for activities abroad, including international travel, for specific projects whenever possible would seem appropriate. The administrative load of clearing travelers of other departments and agencies is staggering, with more than 50,000 STH-related travel clearances granted in 1998.4 Although considerable effort will be required to examine a number of the activities of several dozen departments and agencies, in the long run there should be considerable savings of staff time both within the Department and within other departments and agencies. In a few cases, the Department has given blanket travel authorizations for projects, but this is the rare exception. To ensure that the Department can monitor developments when blanket travel authorizations are granted, other departments and agencies should be required to inform the Department and the relevant embassies of impending international travel with sufficient lead time so the Department and embassies can disapprove the travel if there are overriding foreign policy considerations or administrative problems that dictate against it. 4    This estimate was provided in July 1999 by Department officials responsible for handling a significant portion of the clearances.

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The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State Relations with the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) For more than four decades, OSTP and its predecessor organizations have assembled advisory committees and led a number of interagency efforts concerning the role of STH in U.S. foreign policy. During the past several years, senior OSTP officials have had difficulty engaging senior Department officials in discussions concerning interagency coordination of STH activities. The key Department officials were fully occupied with other commitments. OSTP can be a strong ally in broad foreign policy deliberations involving STH-related issues in which it may be a major player. Its role can be especially important when disagreements arise among departments and agencies or within the White House complex. In addition, it has both the technical skills and the organizational clout to help ensure that inter-agency interactions are meaningful. On a number of occasions in the past, OSTP has used its good offices to take over some of the interagency coordination burdens that would have otherwise fallen on the Department. Thus, the Department should give higher priority to working closely with OSTP. Finally, the Department should encourage OSTP, in cooperation with the National Security Council and the National Economic Council, to give greater attention to the nexus between domestic and international STH concerns so as to strengthen the requests of State and other departments and agencies for funding for international programs. Rotation of Personnel from the Departments and Agencies During the past several years, there have been impressive examples of detailees to the Department from other departments and agencies making important contributions to STH-related activities in Washington (e.g., PM, Office of the Legal Adviser, OES, EB) and abroad (e.g., embassies in Bonn and New Delhi). In some cases, the sending organizations have been sufficiently interested in strengthening the Department's technical capabilities to pay the costs of the detailees assignments. Sometimes, the detailees do not count against personnel ceilings of the Department. They can be quite helpful in reducing overload problems. Although many offices of the Department effectively use detailees, few departments and agencies have a regularized program for providing detailees. The Department of Defense (DOD) is an important exception, and some offices of the Department can count on military officers being available to augment their staffs on a regular basis. Other offices use detailees whenever they can make the necessary arrangements, but they

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The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State often miss opportunities to strengthen their technical capabilities because of the uncertainties associated with the availability of detailees. Recommendation: The Department should increase its use of specialists from other departments and agencies as rotating employees assigned to positions in Washington and abroad, as participants in international negotiations, and as advisors on topics in their areas of expertise. The Department's leadership should have a continuing dialogue with senior officials of the other departments and agencies on the mutual benefits from such involvement of technical personnel in its activities and should establish more effective mechanisms that will help ensure continued interagency support for addressing both ad hoc and recurring issues. Budget Support Although each technical agency must justify its own request for personnel and budget resources to support international activities, a united front before OMB and Congress can often be helpful in demonstrating synergism among programs and fending off criticisms of lack of coordination. Department leadership is sometimes appropriate in organizing interagency reviews involving OSTP and OMB, as well as other departments and agencies, regarding government-wide resource needs for developing and conducting high-priority STH-related international policies and programs. Also, at carefully selected opportunities, the Department should undertake joint efforts with other departments and agencies to request and justify needed funds on Capitol Hill. SUSTAINED PARTNERSHIPS Some of the nation's most successful foreign policy efforts have rested on close interagency working relationships. Successes at international fisheries negotiations have been attributable to effective collaboration between the Department and NOAA. A strong U.S. presence during negotiations on international allocation of radio frequencies rests on sustained interactions between the Department, the Federal Communications Commission, and several other agencies. U.S. leadership in establishing international security regimes has been the product of joint efforts of the Department, DOD, DOE, ACDA, and the intelligence community. The Department's success in mobilizing technical resources for combating international terrorism involves more than 40 departments and agencies.

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The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State In each of these efforts, a few key specialists from different departments and agencies have provided much of the glue that holds the inter-agency process together. Some have been on assignment to the Department, and FSOs have served in the cooperating departments and agencies. This interchange of personnel, together with the organizational adjustments recommended above, is ever more important as the foreign policy issues with STH content become more complex, deadlines become shorter, and stakes for the United States and the world become higher.