S&T are integral components of most development activities. The better the S&T base for these activities, the greater the likelihood for social and economic progress in the developing countries. Judging from the field visits of the committee and from discussions by committee members with a large number of foreign assistance practitioners, many developing country governments realize that long-term progress depends in significant measure on their ability to use S&T effectively.
This report sets forth a number of recommendations and suggestions for enhancing the capabilities of USAID to contribute to building appropriate S&T capacity in the countries where it has programs. It highlights the overriding importance of increasing the S&T capabilities of USAID’s foreign service and civil service employees. It emphasizes that while its partners provide important S&T capabilities, strengthened internal staffs are essential to guide the programs of the agency that rely on S&T expertise.
All of the recommendations set forth in this report could be implemented at the direction of the USAID Administrator and his senior staff, with the exception of the recommendation to establish an S&T advisory committee which would require approval by the Office of Management and Budget. But it will not be an easy task to convince the USAID leadership to embrace S&T more fully when there are so many competing demands for personnel slots and financial resources. To this end, this report can provide a basis for follow-up discussions by the S&T proponents, within and outside USAID, with the Agency and Congressional leaderships.
If there are decisions within USAID to move forward in the S&T arena on a significant scale, the implementation of programs that are developed will require tenacity and determination by the S&T proponents over a period of years. Indeed, sustaining the effort for the indefinite future should there be a decline in the foreign assistance budget will be a difficult task. But the development payoff from better access to S&T achievements by populations of developing countries and the rewards for the security of the United States from new international partnerships in critical technological areas are potentially very great. Therefore, even though the outcome a decade into the future from this proposed S&T initiative cannot be predicted with certainty, the stakes are so great that a decision by the USAID Administrator to provide significant resources for S&T-related activities at this time is fully warranted.