Hundreds of U.S. government departments and agencies (agencies), academic institutions, private companies, nongovernmental organizations, and other institutions play significant roles in international activities. At the same time, private foundations are becoming a more important force than ever before in determining the direction and character of U.S.-based international programs. At present, the Department of State (department) actively supports the establishment and implementation of programs of most agencies but is aware of only a limited number of the nongovernmental science and technology (S&T) activities. Yet many of these relatively unknown undertakings may have objectives that are consistent with U.S. foreign policy or they may lead to outcomes that diverge from broad national goals. The impacts of nongovernmental entities on S&T relationships among nations are on the rise. Thus, the department needs to work with foundations, industry, academia, and other private organizations to the fullest possible extent in developing and coordinating international policies and programs that advance the overall interests of the United States. The goal should be to support whenever possible appropriate S&T-related international efforts of many organizations. The department should facilitate laudable efforts of others while bringing to the attention of organizers of questionable undertakings the difficulties that their efforts could create or might encounter. In short, reconfiguring the international dimensions of foreign policy requires consultation across both the government and the broader nationwide S&T community.
The 1999 report of the National Research Council titled The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: An Imperative for the Department of State recognized the overlapping interests of many U.S. organizations in the S&T aspects of diplomacy. Coordination of activities focused primarily on the interagency process. A list of S&T-related interagency responsibilities of the department included in that report is set forth in Appendix J.
The 1999 report called for more efficient interagency administrative procedures, with less burden on the department’s staff. As discussed in Chapter 1 of this report, the recommendations included (a) transferring responsibilities
for science, technology, and health activities to other appropriate and willing departments and agencies whenever there are not compelling reasons for retaining responsibility within the department, (b) streamlining the Circular 175 process, which calls for interagency reviews of proposed international agreements and bilateral memoranda of understanding, and (c) increasing the use by the department of specialists from other departments and agencies as rotating employees assigned to positions in Washington and abroad, as participants in international negotiations, and as advisers on topics in their areas of expertise.
These and other concerns set forth in the 1999 report as to interagency coordination remain important although progress has been made in improving procedures for carrying out many of the responsibilities that the report singled out for attention. The need for effective and less burdensome coordination of interagency interests—including attention to the excessive frequency of lengthy meetings—has grown dramatically during the past decade, thus underscoring the continuing importance of earlier concerns. However, as noted in Chapter 1 of this report, existing legislation requires the department to continue to play a central role in many interagency activities although there may be opportunities to shift some administrative responsibilities to willing government partners.
Against this background, the committee considered the upsurge in interagency interests and activities linked to S&T and offers several recommendations to improve working together of the agencies. This new report also gives considerable attention to the activities of nongovernmental entities, recognizing the need to move well beyond interagency coordination to a whole-of-society approach for international S&T affairs.
For many years, the department has been an important force in the gradual move toward a whole-of-society approach in addressing global issues. This approach should draw to the fullest extent possible on relevant ideas, assets, and aspirations of governmental and nongovernmental organizations in Washington and throughout the nation in establishing policies and carrying out programs. The importance of a whole-of-society approach is increasingly recognized throughout the department. Recent success stories in this regard are reflected in the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program in Africa, with about $45 billion committed to this program during the past decade. This highly visible effort, coordinated effectively by the department, provides an important diplomatic tool in addressing an array of issues in Africa and elsewhere. Programs to reduce infant mortality, feed the future, reduce malaria, and provide expanded electricity for Africa are examples of USAID-led programs involving many private as well as government organizations that the department has strongly supported.
Whole-of-society approaches now characterize department efforts in a number of other fields as well. For example, the department’s current effort within the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs in developing a broad Global Entrepreneurship Program is based on active participation of dozens of representatives from financial and investment organizations, along with owners and operators of start-up firms in the United States and abroad. Another successful effort is the Global Innovation Science and Technology (GIST) program of the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES) which has engaged dozens of promising young innovators from many countries. The department, backed by the unmatched prestige of the success of innovation efforts of U.S. firms, is continuing to build on these initial efforts.
In summary, as S&T capabilities continue to spread throughout the world, hundreds of U.S. organizations are expanding their S&T-related interests and activities in almost every country. Their programs may not only overlap with the interests of the department, but at times may place them in positions of significant players in determining the character of the relationships between the United States and other nations. Foreign policy decisions may not give adequate weight to important views of many U.S. organizations, the time available to the department to help facilitate private sector activities may be inadequate, and in some instances there may even be confusion as to who speaks on behalf of the United States on controversial or sensitive issues. Thus, special efforts are needed to broaden perspectives concerning the many U.S. interests abroad and the mechanisms available to promote those interests.
Further, agencies may have overlapping legislative requirements, thus confusing leadership roles within the government. Also, there may be significant disparities in available personnel and financial resources in different agencies and private-sector organizations that are important in addressing problems of broad interest, thereby unintentionally tilting the overall approach in favor of the interests of the best-endowed advocates. Different and sometimes conflicting views arise as to the appropriate approaches in addressing both immediate and long-term issues of common concern. Such conflicts can usually be reduced to an acceptable level through dialogue and compromise in order to set the best possible stage for sustained involvement of diverse partners.
U.S. embassies should consult with American scientists, engineers, and health specialists residing in their countries, when appropriate, regarding research, development, and other programs that are relevant to ongoing or proposed engagement activities of interest to the embassies. Also such in-country specialists are important in identifying opportunities for initiating new programs of mutual interest. At the same time the
embassies should also be alert to possible contributions from other in-country specialists who are not affiliated with U.S. government activities.
A number of agencies that support large scientific research and development programs in the United States have offices abroad to help keep the agencies abreast of foreign S&T achievements that are of interest. The offices are usually staffed accordingly. Also, some of these agencies—and particularly the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Agriculture—support many research contracts and grants that engage thousands of scientists from the United States who are working abroad. In France, for example, more than 25 agencies have offices.
NIH provides more than $200 million annually in international grants. The largest amounts are for collaborative work with researchers in countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland. Much of this research focuses on diseases and particularly cancer, diabetes, mental health, and addiction. In other countries such as South Africa, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) funds numerous projects, many involving HIV/AIDS. It also supports studies on the prevention and treatment of TB and malaria (see Table 3-1).
NSF has long supported American researchers working abroad and also international collaborations. Through the Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) program, for example, NSF works with foreign counterpart agencies to fund multinational research projects (National Science Foundation, 2014a). (See Appendix K for additional information.) NSF provides up to $5,000,000 of support over 5 years to U.S. scientists, and the counterpart agencies provide support to the foreign side. One such multinational project, “Developing Low Carbon Cities in US, China, & India,” (National Science Foundation, 2014b) brings together six U.S. institutions and eight Asian institutions to design low-carbon, sustainable cities in the United States, India, and China. Researchers are exploring how to best reduce greenhouse gas emissions, linking this effort with broader sustainability goals, including economic development, pollution, and public health. The project is training nearly 100 students (across all three countries) and partnering with NGOs to translate research into action. Recently NSF has teamed with USAID in supporting parallel research activities of investigators from the United States and the developing countries (PEER Program), and this approach has expanded to include USAID teaming with a variety of other U.S. government agencies (National Academies, 2015). The annual report of the NSF Board titled Science and Engineering Indicators presents a broad base of quantifiable information about the U.S. and international scientific enterprises. The document provides a good basis for keeping abreast of important trends that can help the department develop its overall approach to S&T engagement.
TABLE 3-1 NIH Grants to Foreign Investigators in 2013 Countries Receiving Over $5 Million in 2014
|Country||Number of Awards||Funding|
|All other foreign grants||159||5,631,000|
SOURCE: National Institutes of Health (2014). For an extensive listing of NIH international programs, see http://www.fic.nih.gov/programs/pages/default.aspx.
Table 3-1 presents a sampling of NIH grants to foreign investigators. Only in exceptional circumstances can the department influence the topics and funding levels of NIH programs (e.g., the NIH AIDS program was developed in consultation with the department). However,, the U.S. embassies can encourage foreign scientists to apply for grants and for residencies at NIH.
Within this pool of American government scientists and engineers working abroad and also those working for the government as contractors and grantees is an extraordinary array of high quality talent. Often the U.S. embassies draw on this pool to provide insights as to S&T developments in host countries. Often, however, government employees and recipients of U.S. government contracts or grants who are living abroad have had little contact with the embassies.
In larger embassies with significant S&T activities across the interagency spectrum, Ambassadors at times create informal S&T clusters of representatives from all relevant agencies under the Science Counselor if a Counselor is in place. The Deputy Chief of Mission, assisted by the ESTH officer, often informs the embassy staff of ongoing activities to ensure coordination is appropriate. The ESTH officer at times meets with in-country Americans who are engaged in S&T activities as a way of promoting cooperation and transparency.
The department, in cooperation with the Department of Commerce, the Office of the Trade Representative, and U.S. industry, should continue to encourage governments of trade partners to adopt comprehensive approaches to development and use of technologies, including protection of their own and foreign intellectual property.
In its interactions with foreign counterparts, U.S. officials should stress that they will work with other governments that are lagging behind in developing effective innovation systems, including measures to protect locally generated technologies. Such an approach will underscore a U.S. commitment to technological development around the globe, which in the long-term should benefit U.S. companies. As noted in Chapter 2, innovation and economic entrepreneurship are popular topics for international dialogues; and emphasizing this topic in public diplomacy events should help underscore the balanced interests of U.S. agencies in the development of effective innovation systems. The international effort to upgrade innovation systems worldwide is increasing. It is desirable for the United States government and for U.S. private sector entities to be on the forefront of this effort.
It is difficult to attribute enhanced innovation capabilities of a country solely to the country’s adoption of an internationally acceptable IPR system since many other factors also determine the environment for innovation. However, it is highly unlikely that significant innovation will thrive in a country that does not have a stable IPR system. Thus the department should give greater attention to identifying correlations between effective IPR systems of specific countries of interest and private sector investments in innovation as well as technology uptake in these countries. Empirical research, including case studies, would carry considerable weight in promoting IPR systems and Bayh-Dole technology transfer paradigms that serve the interests of both the United States and countries of interest.
The department should encourage USAID to initiate external reviews of its S&T programs every 3 to 5 years given the many overlapping goals of USAID and the department that often involve nongovernment entities. The 2006 report prepared by the National Academies titled “The Fundamental Role of Science and Technology in International Development: An Imperative for the Agency for International Development” provides a good starting point for the next review.
Of particular interest in considering a whole-of-society approach are the overlapping activities of USAID that have extensive linkages with the nongovernmental sector through many interagency agreements and contractual arrangements. The policies and programs concerning the role of S&T in
USAID’s program have changed dramatically in recent years, including the closer alignment of these activities with the interests of the department. Also the extensive emphasis on S&T within USAID as of 2014 is unprecedented. Assessments, like the 2006 report, should address a wide range of policies, programs, and approaches of USAID, with particular attention to the agency’s relationships with not only the department but with hundreds of U.S. and international partners from both the governmental and private sectors as well. The reviews should consider program content, anticipated impact, and operational procedures in developing and implementing programs. The linkages between the policies and programs of the department and USAID are emphasized in the FY 2014-2017 Department of State and USAID Strategic Plan, which identifies many complementary interests in S&T-related activities. In addition, the current and planned programs of USAID are well documented in congressional presentations and other publicly available documents.
The leadership of the department, in concert with senior Department of Defense (DOD) officials, should continue to give emphasis to the importance of collaboration between the two departments at many levels. Opportunities for joint planning, program development activities, and readiness for future contingencies should receive particular attention, perhaps in preparation of the Quadrennial Defense Review and the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review.
This recommendation focuses on DOD’s international activities that overlap with interests of the department. Of course, the department should also coordinate with many other agencies; but the extent and foreign policy implications of DOD activities are indeed profound.
DOD, with tens of thousands of personnel stationed abroad, including thousands of specialists highly trained in advanced aspects of S&T, has a large influence on the development and implementation of S&T-laden U.S. policies. Military officers are regularly assigned to important positions in offices of the department. Department advisers are assigned to the Pentagon and to combatant commands where they take special interests in the consistency of military activities with foreign policy. At the Pacific Command, for example, the Adviser assigned to the command by the department often has strong interests in S&T and organizes conferences that feature DOD’s S&T activities in Asia. These conferences are wide ranging. They have been opened to international participants, and they now attract many foreign military and political leaders with S&T responsibilities as well as a broad range of specialists from the United States.
DOD has been an essential partner of the department in humanitarian, research, and technological development endeavors throughout the world for many decades. Responding to the Haiti earthquake, strengthening hurricane-
warning systems, and combating the spread of the Ebola virus are but a very small sampling of the many non-combatant challenges that have involved unique capabilities of DOD, often employing the latest technological achievements.
Of special interest for this report, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering in 2014 issued a report titled The International S&T Engagement Strategy of DOD, which sets forth the following goal:
Coordinated DOD global S&T engagement to enhance interoperability, relationship-building, and collaboration with partner nations; accelerate the pace of U.S. research and development; leverage emerging global opportunities; improve U.S. capabilities and those of our partner nations; mitigate the risk of global threats; and gain economic efficiencies.
The technologies of interest include both military technologies (e.g., electronic warfare components, weapons technologies, and technical approaches to counter weapons of mass destruction) and technologies with broader applications (e.g., biomedical products, materials and manufacturing processes, and energy and power technologies). About 1,500 DOD and contractor employees are based abroad to carry out S&T scouting missions and technology development activities. The staffs are frequently housed within or near embassy complexes, often attached administratively to, but acting independently of, the Defense Attachés in the embassies. They sponsor conferences, carry out consultations with foreign experts, award research grants and contracts, and encourage international research that is consistent with U.S. interests. The research offices of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, along with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, are the DOD entities most interested in the program. A particularly informative web site “Connecting Industry and DOD” provides further guidance as to the interests of DOD (Defense Innovation Marketplace, 2015).
Other DOD S&T activities are also of considerable interest. They include (a) research carried out at several DOD and service biomedical laboratories in South America, Africa, and Asia, (b) strengthening the biological research infrastructure in a number of countries with support by the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program carried out by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, (c) and global disease surveillance that is coordinated with the international surveillance programs of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as with the department’s Biological Engagement Program.
Turning to S&T issues, a recent report of the department on global science, which was supported by DOD, identifies many overlapping interests (National Research Council, 2014). They range from engaging foreign research centers in contractual arrangements to working out the details of classification issues.
In summary, as S&T capabilities of countries throughout the world increase, coordination at many levels will be of greater importance. The approaches will vary in different situations. Frequently, the department, working with DOD, should be in the lead in implementing this call for coordination of S&T policies, programs, and operational implementation.
The department should ensure that U.S. delegations to meetings of international organizations include essential experts from other government departments and agencies. Other agencies that have important interests and expertise as to the topic of a meeting usually cover the travel costs of their specialists. However, when priorities of the department and other agencies do not align, the delegations may be lacking technical expertise for addressing specific agenda items.
International and regional organizations are steadily increasing their activities and interests involving S&T. While the department sets aside sufficient funding to enable key department officials to attend meetings, financial problems at times arise with regard to including experts from other agencies or from the private sector in delegations when these individuals are unable to find other sources of funds to cover costs.
There are seldom problems in financing delegations to meetings addressing issues of broad interest (e.g., climate change). But at times other agencies, and particularly small agencies, are unable to cover costs for attendance at less highly touted meetings. Then the department must decide the priority that should be given to financial support. The department should be, but does not always have resources. As the frequency of such meetings increases, reserve funds should also increase.
As to participants from the private sector, there are seldom problems. Either their organizations do not hesitate to cover costs or they find the funding elsewhere to participate in events that enhance their professional credentials.
The S&T Adviser to the Secretary, in consultation with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, should stay abreast of the activities of S&T-oriented committees and panels established by components of the Executive Office of the President and should help ensure that the department is appropriately represented when current and future international dimensions of research and development activities are discussed.
Offices with S&T-Related Responsibilities in the Executive Office of the President
- Office of Science and Technology Policy
- National Science and Technology Policy Council
- Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Sustainability
- Committee on Homeland and National Forestry
- Committee on Science
- Committee on Technology
- President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology
- National Science and Technology Policy Council
- Council of Economic Advisers
- Council of Environmental Quality
- Office of U.S. Trade Representative
- National Security Adviser
- National Economic Council
- Domestic Policy Council (Visa Policy)
SOURCE: Executive Office of the President (2014).
Examples of areas of interest include development of new energy sources, new applications in material sciences, and advances in nanotechnology. Box 3-1 identifies relevant entities within the Executive Office of the President in December 2014. The S&T Adviser should coordinate his efforts with other interested units of the department, and particularly the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, which may be engaged in related discussions within the intelligence community.
For decades, the department has played an active role, and often a lead role, at the highest levels of government in the formulation, coordination, and implementation of policies that are at the core of near-term international security and other important foreign policy objectives. The department has undertaken similar roles in other policies with S&T dimensions as well, such as in development of international economic policies. The department has also been engaged in interagency discussions of technical developments leading to emerging technologies, including those that involve interactions among research communities throughout the world. However, officials of other U.S. agencies have commented that insights and guidance of the department are sometimes missing in important discussions within interagency panels and committees that address research and development activities of other countries as well as those of the United States.
The Office of Science and Technology Policy has long hosted an interagency committee or subcommittee specifically focused on international S&T issues that cut across many agencies. Frequently, the department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES) has chaired or co-chaired the activity. In addition, OES also hosts meetings of
representatives of agencies responsible for international activities to discuss common concerns and to keep the agencies up-to-date on policies and interests of the department. Some agencies have expressed the view that coordination meetings convened by OES should be more frequent, perhaps twice per year. They cite a gathering organized by OES in 2012 of over 120 agency officials that provided an excellent opportunity to discuss common international interests and concerns throughout the government. Finally, OES often convenes country-specific interagency meetings in connection with activities of bilateral joint commissions and at times organizes coordination meetings in preparation for other interactions with representatives of specific countries.
In short, when the meeting is about international affairs with S&T dimensions, the department will be well represented. When the meeting is about S&T developments with international dimensions, at times the department has higher priorities. Of particular concern are comments by officials of the Department of Defense that the Department of State does not give enough attention to discussions led by OSTP concerning advanced technologies that are having or will have significant international impacts. The importance of such exchange of information is significant and the S&T Adviser is well positioned to alert department offices of the need to follow up.
The Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development (QDDR) and other broad-ranging policy documents should underscore the importance of the department adopting a whole-of-society approach to diplomacy, which includes the capabilities and contributions of not only many government agencies but also nongovernmental entities that are deeply vested in S&T.
The first QDDR recognized the significant international roles of many organizations and the importance of nurturing approaches to diplomacy that leverage S&T and other relevant assets of the entire country. The approach is important not only in the formulation of foreign policy, but also in the carrying out of foreign trade, public diplomacy, and humanitarian assistance, which draw heavily on S&T expertise.
OES, STAS, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and other interested bureaus should jointly organize annual conferences for representatives of interested universities, professional societies, foundations, NGOs, companies, and other private sector organizations to meet with relevant department officials in assessing past and future opportunities for partnerships and other arrangements that will enhance mutual interests in the development and carrying out of international
non-defense S&T-oriented programs. The meetings should be primarily for information exchange, and they should not be construed as policy formulation meetings.
Many department bureaus and offices are in contact with universities and other private sector entities on a regular basis, often supporting S&T-oriented grants and contracts for specific projects of mutual interest. The bureaus involved in public diplomacy have long had extensive relationships with the academic and other nongovernmental communities. They traditionally have supported extensive programs involving S&T through the Fulbright Program and other mechanisms. Also, OES sponsors a number of S&T-oriented programs involving the academic and NGO communities, while STAS has become a focal point for consultations with U.S. universities and other organizations that are interested in working with the department in addressing global S&T issues but are not well connected with the program offices of the department. Against this background, an annual conference as suggested in this recommendation, open to all internal department offices and other organizations with relevant interests, should provide important encouragement for traditional partners and other institutions with latent capabilities to become better attuned to the interests of the department and thereby help spread the concept of a whole-of-society approach in carrying out programs abroad. A specific theme for each conference could help focus attention on both procedural and substantive presentations.
As an example of a new opportunity for engagement of universities in activities of interest to the department, in 2013 the Special Adviser to the Secretary for Partnerships established a program that initially engaged 14 U.S. universities in projects involving policy research and analysis of interest to the department. The approach was named the Diplomacy Lab. Offices of both regional and functional bureaus of the department submitted numerous requests to the Special Adviser for narrowly focused studies that professors and students could carry out as part of ongoing educational and research programs that would be of interest to the department. While no funding was provided for the studies, a number of universities have been motivated to participate, simply by knowing that the department is interested in their ideas.
Good alignment of the interests of the department and those of multiple-stakeholders involved in activities of mutual interest is important. Efforts to improve the consistency between the approaches of the department and other U.S. organizations with related international objectives may delay implementation of programs. However, the long-term benefits from having single unambiguous messages supported by the major stakeholders may warrant such delays. This approach, for example, is currently guiding efforts of the U.S. government and the private sector in establishing a multi-stakeholder framework for internet governance.
Complementing the launch by the U.S. government or other U.S. organizations of S&T-related initiatives of world-wide interest are the many evolving programs of international and regional organizations, international development banks, and private foundations with global reach that have their own S&T agendas and priorities. Often such activities are of direct interest to U.S. agencies, and at times the U.S. government helps shape mutually acceptable approaches involving other organizations. Also, activities of multilateral organizations are usually far-reaching and involve many governments and their influential patrons. Appropriate U.S. agencies should be represented at such meetings that shape multilateral approaches.
In short, the department will never have a complete array of S&T expertise and experience needed in the complex world of global diplomacy. Yet through strategic partnerships involving both public and private sector entities, America’s scientists and diplomats can frequently provide a broad array of needed know-how that helps transform well-developed policy into successful action on a solid footing.
Defense Innovation Marketplace. 2015. Connecting Industry & DoD. Online. Available at http://www.defenseinnovationmarketplace.mil/.
Executive Office of the President. 2014. Online. Available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop. Accessed October 5, 2014.
National Academies. 2015. Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER). Online. Available at http://sites.nationalacademies.org/pga/peer/index.htm. Accessed January 30, 2015.National Institutes of Health. 2014. Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT). Online. Available at http://report.nih.gov/award/index.cfm?ot=&fy=2013&state=Foreign&ic=&fm=&orgid=&distr=&rfa=&pid=#tab1. Accessed October 1, 2014.
National Research Council. 2014. Strategic Engagement in Global S&T: Opportunities for Defense Research. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. Online. Available at http://www.nap.edu/download.php?record_id=18816#.
National Science Foundation. 2014a. Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE). Online. Available at http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=505038. Accessed January 31, 2015.
____________. 2014b. PIRE: Developing Low-Carbon Cities in the US, China, and India Through Integration Across Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Social Sciences, and Public Health. Online. Available at http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1243535&HistoricalAwards=false. Accessed January 31, 2015.
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