The United States has world-recognized assets in science, technology, and innovation (STI) development programs based on its highereducation institutions, sophisticated public-sector research facilities, and an expansive private-sector research enterprise, invigorated by a spirit of entrepreneurship and a culture of innovation.1 The peer-review system used by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), and other grant-making institutions sets high standards for recognizing and funding the highest-quality science. U.S. universities attracted almost 1 million students from around the world in 2015, with engineering and business as the most popular fields, followed by math and computer science; these experiences often build lifetime bridges between colleagues.2 Disruptive technologies created by U.S. innovators have infused economies and transformed everyday life around the world.
While other countries have increased the percentage of their gross domestic product (GDP) devoted to research and development, the United States remains the leader in absolute dollar amounts (see Figures 3-1 and 3-2). When such investment is combined with an innovation culture and world-leading educational institutions, the potential exists to develop and apply science and technology (S&T) for global needs.
Countries receiving development assistance from the United States often graduate to major influence in the world of STI: for example, in agriculture, Brazil; in technology, Taiwan and Korea; and in software engineering, India. An emerging emphasis on partnerships thus is
1 See, for example, Pew survey, http://www.pewglobal.org/2013/07/18/chapter-1-attitudes-toward-the-united-states/.
2 Open Doors 2015, Institute of International Education, http://www.iie.org/en/Research-and-Publications/Open-Doors#.V4etBZMrJBx.
the next logical focus of innovative programming, to achieve rapid scaling to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. But development of STI capacity in the leading developing countries remains uneven. Domestic pressures diminish support for long-term research and development (R&D) projects, particularly in basic research. In areas where new basic discoveries can have huge impact and pay-offs, collaboration between the U.S. and emerging nations’ STI professionals is a fertile ground for advancement.
The U.S. government has both supported and benefited from STI advances in the public and private sectors. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) can draw from a wealth of STI capabilities in other government agencies, repurposed for international development. Before turning to USAID’s role in accessing these capabilities, it is useful to review the role of the White House, Department of State (DOS) and other agencies, and Congress in setting priorities and providing leadership for STI in development.
White House Leadership
White House leadership can advance bold ideas and set aggressive targets that permeate across the executive agencies and guide resources toward ambitious goals. A notable example of White House leadership came with President Kennedy’s challenge to reach the moon in a decade. In addition to conceiving and launching ambitious STI initiatives, the White House, through the Office of Science and Technology Policy, plays an ongoing role in coordinating STI initiatives across the executive agencies.
Both Presidents Bush and Obama have harnessed White House leadership to meet international development objectives. In 2003, President George W. Bush launched the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) with the goal of creating an AIDS-free generation. From the start, the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy brought together experts across agencies, including USAID, the Department of State, and the Centers for Disease Control and Preven-
tion. In addition to supporting research and application in such areas as greater access to drugs and reduced mother-to-child transmission, PEPFAR is noteworthy for its emphasis on interagency partnerships and evidence-based decision making.
In 2009, soon after taking office, President Obama signed a Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development (known as PPD-6), which elevated development as a core pillar of American power globally.3 When he signed PPD-6, the President committed to “making sure that the United States will be a global leader in International development in the 21st century. The PPD-6 was intended in part to inspire multiagency and multipartner responses to complex global challenges. As an example, the Global Health Initiative brought together 12 agencies to contribute to stronger health systems in developing countries, with spending of $8.6 billion across the agencies in the FY2017 Congressional Presentation. A list of major presidential initiatives outlined in the FY2017 Congressional Presentation for USAID reflects White House interest in STI-based issues:
- Feed the Future Initiative ($871 million)
- Global Climate Change Initiative ($291 million)
- PEPFAR ($6 billion)
- Power Africa ($300 million)
- President’s Malaria Initiative ($745 million).4
These initiatives involve the president and senior staff, and are featured in White House-led planning for major events including Group of Seven (G7), UN Climate Change, and International AIDS Conferences. In December 2015, 195 nations, including the United States, consented to the Paris Agreements to limit global warming and climate change. Thus was born a potential presidential initiative to work with those emerging nations that lack the STI capacity to address the complex energy issues that will ensue. In July 2016, when the White House con-
4 Congressional Presentations for FY 2008, FY 2011, FY 2014, and FY 2017. The last is accessible at https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/9276/252179.pdf.
In addition to the presidential initiatives, USAID participates in other administration priorities that have a strong scientific and technological component and draw on capacities from multiple agencies, including the National Action Plan for Combating Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis ($191 million), Sahel Development Initiative ($25 million), Implementing the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America ($357 million), Let Girls Learn ($35 million), and the U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence.
As recommended in the 2006 National Academies report, collaboration among federal agencies for STI related to development has increased in the past decade. The PPD-6 and the establishment of the initiatives listed above have created a framework for greater cooperation. The committee’s conversations with a wide range of USAID scientific/technical staff (see Appendix D) revealed the extent to which the international aspirations of other U.S. government agencies are woven into project structures that enable each agency to contribute its expertise, resources, and strategic connections, but still recognize the separate mandates that guide each agency. For instance, the Global Climate Change Office in USAID’s Bureau for Economic Growth, Education and Environment (E3) has created a working partnership with the Bureau for Food Security within USAID, as well as with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), American Red Cross, Asian Development Bank, Esri, Google, Inter-American Development Bank, Skoll Global Threats Fund, and the UK government, to improve resilience of key sectors to changing trends in weather and climate.7
5 White House Summit on Global Development, https://www.whitehouse.gov/campaign/globaldevelopment.
6 “Obama will ensure his global development policy outlasts his presidency,” Washington Post, July 20, 2016.
USAID has the ability to serve as a point of contact and systems integrator with other U.S. government agencies involved in STI capacity-building in developing countries and also with U.S. stakeholders—nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), foundations, universities, inventors, financiers—currently engaged in various facets of STI for development. Most federal agencies have a primarily domestic mandate and are thus measured on the basis of meeting U.S. needs. While the argument is made that international development supports our global agenda for peace and security, another motivation to involve domestic agencies is the mutual scientific benefit that results from transboundary collaborations. As the public places higher priority on such transboundary issues as climate, health, and food security, offering U.S.-based expertise through foreign assistance enhances our own science programs. In areas as diverse as nutrition studies, medical device development, food systems policy, environmental awareness, and others, advances in a developing-world context inform U.S. science. USAID’s STI+P enterprise has an important role to play in making the case for this mutual benefit.
Variability in collaboration depends on the development sector, issue, and leadership at the agencies involved. Further discussion about USAID interaction with other federal-branch agencies follows later in this chapter and elsewhere in the report. Here we review common efforts with the Department of State, as the entity with which USAID has the most frequent and overlapping contact.
Over the past decade, DOS and USAID, along with leading partner agencies, have advanced and refined the role of STI through the development of two U.S. government-wide policies—the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development (PPD-6), described above, and the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), as well as in U.S. efforts to attain the global Millennium Development and Sustainable Development Goals. 8
The United States leverages science and technology as an important aspect of diplomacy with its allies—to mutually enhance econ-
8 U.S. Department of State, Sustainable Development for the Next Twenty Years United States Views on Rio+20: Submission to the United Nations on November 1, 2011, http://www.state.gov/e/oes/sus/releases/176863.htm.
omies and security—as well as with adversaries to find common neutral ground for dialogues.9 During the Cold War, science and technology built bridges with the Soviet Union despite great political tension.10 Outside of the United States, this type of cooperation has also played a role in improving relations; for example, in the aftermath of World War II, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) helped the Federal Republic of Germany to re-establish dialogue and renew collaboration with its European neighbors. Similarly, scientific interactions between Germany’s Max Planck Society and Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science provided one of the first channels for dialogue between the two countries after the war.
In 1999, then Secretary of State Madeline Albright commissioned the National Academies’ report The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State,11 which offered recommendations for how the DOS could more effectively leverage the strength of U.S. S&T to advance U.S. diplomacy. A follow-up 2015 report reviewed progress and offered new recommendations.12 Some of the committee’s recommendations for the Department of State equally apply to USAID, for instance: (1) international delegations should include experts from other government agencies; (2) more active liaison between the Executive Office of the President, when addressing S&T issues, and the S&T leadership at DOS; (3) policy documents should adopt a whole-of-nation approach to S&T issues to include nongovernmental entities; (4) assignment of specialists from other agencies to embassies; and (5) expansion within embassies of the number of S&T counselors, with adequate preparation before assuming their duties.
9 National Research Council, U.S. and International Perspectives on Global Science Policy and Science Diplomacy: Report of a Workshop, Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2011.
11 National Research Council, The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999.
12 National Research Council, Diplomacy for the 21st Century: Embedding a Culture of Science and Technology Throughout the Department of State. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2015.
The State Department adopted one of the original study’s principal recommendations by establishing the position of the science and technology advisor to the secretary of state (STAS). The STAS three-pillar strategy calls for building the department’s S&T capacity by drawing upon the resources of the U.S. scientific community; promoting science engagement with countries and regions viewed as foreign policy priorities; and building a coordinated S&T innovation strategy so the DOS can connect private-sector research, development, and discovery to foreign policy priorities.13 The 2015 Academies’ report recognized that the DOS has taken steps to incorporating more S&T into its operations, but also found embassies less inclined to embrace S&T as a key component of diplomacy.
While science diplomacy has not typically been considered a strategic purpose at USAID, in many ways, development programs are the most effective diplomacy of all—impacting people at all levels of a foreign country. Indeed, USAID ‘s work to harness STI+P in developing countries directly supports the DOS mission to “shape and sustain a peaceful, prosperous, just, and democratic world and foster conditions for stability and progress for the benefit of the American people and people everywhere.” The State-USAID Joint Strategic Goal Framework (see Figure 3-3) articulates five goals to which science and technology can contribute solutions.
To further coordinate diplomatic and development efforts, USAID and the Department of State issued a QDDR in 2010 and 2015. The 2015 QDDR argues that “effective diplomacy and development require smart investments in the technology, knowledge management, and diagnostics that allow us to leverage data” (p. 10). Using energy as an example, the QDDR calls for deploying greater scientific expertise and promoting clean-energy technology to tackle climate change (p. 11). To this end, the State Department launched the Bureau of Energy Resources in 2011 and is building a cadre of energy officers with experience overseas and in Washington to integrate an understanding of the global energy economy into U.S. foreign policy and energy diplomacy.
The State Department and USAID have also collaborated effectively in Washington and in field missions on Feed the Future, the U.S. global hunger and food security initiative. DOS opened the Office of Global Food Security in 2009, which played a major role in consultations and analysis leading to the establishment of Feed the Future, whose implementation is led by USAID. The State Department coordinator serves as Feed the Future’s deputy coordinator for diplomacy, while the USAID Bureau for Food Security’s assistant to the administrator serves as deputy coordinator for development. In the 19 Feed the Future countries, the U.S. ambassador works closely with the USAID mission director to coordinate U.S. government contributions at the country level, and raises food security policy issues at the highest levels of government. The State Department has also partnered with USAID and the Treasury Department to raise international funding for the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), part of the presidential commitments to food security made at the G8 and G20 Summits in 2009. Finally, macroeconomic issues have substantial impacts on development outcomes,
such as trade and monetary systems. Trade negotiations have intermittently drawn on USAID expertise about economic development strategies and how trade strategies can be coordinated with the investments by USAID.
Congress has articulated policy views about STI in USAID strategies, many of which translate into funding earmarks through the appropriations process. For example, members of both parties in Congress have supported PEPFAR, Feed the Future, and establishment of the Global Development Lab.14 In addition, appropriations bills have included endorsement and minimum funding levels for the development of many different technologies, from smokeless cookstoves to heat-stable vaccines.
Members of Congress reflect the views of their constituents on many issues, including foreign policy in general and development assistance in particular. While surveys show Americans are generally supportive of helping poorer countries, a 2015 poll by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations revealed that Americans rank “economic aid to other countries” as the least valuable tool of foreign policy, with only 11/100 score on effectiveness.15 Part of that view of assistance may be related to the incorrect public perception, demonstrated in polls over the last 20 years, that 25 to 30 percent of the federal budget goes to foreign aid (rather than the actual figure of 1 percent).16 Several organizations and coalitions attempt to educate and advocate around this issue; of note, InterAction’s series of 14 fact sheets on “Aid works” all highlight STI-related advances, including those related to climate change, emerging infectious diseases, and food security.17
14 S. Rept. 114-79-Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill, 2016, https://www.congress.gov/congressional-report/114th-congress/senate-report/79/1, Title II.
15 America Divided: Political Partisanship and US Foreign Policy, https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/sites/default/files/CCGA_PublicSurvey2015.pdf, p. 48.
Congress plays a role in a key weakness for USAID program planning—its uncertain, short-term horizon funding, a constraint not of USAID's doing. Especially from a STI+P perspective, long-term investment is how results/successes are achieved. The agency does not adequately have that option now. We discuss this issue further in Chapter 7, with regard to making a serious commitment to scaling.
STI has a long history as part of USAID’s mission, but has gone through different cycles of emphasis and senior-level attention. Strategies have ranged from an engineering-based infrastructure emphasis and multidisciplinary rural development to a focus on meeting basic human needs for the poorest to capacity-building for those developing countries with the greatest promise. While observers with long experience draw different conclusions about investments in host-country capacity via education, training, institution-building, and new technology development,18 the context has changed so much in the 21st century as to make prior analyses about specific interventions quite tentative.
Policy and Budget Framework
In addition to the umbrella of the PPD-6 and the QDDR, the USAID Policy Framework 2011–2015 provides a set of operational principles designed to help the agency “focus relentlessly on achieving and measuring results.” Two framework principles facilitate the deployment of science, technology, and innovation: (1) applying science, technology, and innovation strategically, and (2) promoting gender equality and female empowerment.
USAID argues that a critical facet of becoming the world’s premier development agency—a mandate in the PPD-6—emerges from “harnessing the transformative power of science, technology, and innovation” and “working closely with partner countries to leverage the impact
18 For a sampling of these views, see Science and Technology for Development: Prospects Entering the Twenty-first Century. A Symposium in Commemoration of the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the US Agency for International Development. June 1987. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1988.
of [agency] investments and make difficult tradeoffs, concentrating resources where they have the greatest chance of yielding large-scale, sustainable results” (p. 2). USAID recognizes its capacity to open doors to technology as a central tenet (p. 3), as is the application and deployment of new STI approaches and methods to “address human development needs” (p. 11). Ultimately, USAID envisions the realization of its STI operational principles through reforms in three main areas: a more strategic, focused, and results-oriented approach; high-impact partnerships and local solutions; and identification and scale-up of innovative, breakthrough solutions.
The USAID Forward plan in 2010 elevated STI+P as a way to achieve major management reforms and demonstrate new approaches to working with partners. Thus, a focus area in USAID Forward:
Identify and scale up innovative, breakthrough solutions to intractable development challenges. At USAID, we have a strong history of partnerships with the scientific community that helped pioneer some of the greatest successes in development to date. USAID Forward furthers this legacy by strengthening our work with scientists, researchers and universities, investing in new technologies to source and scale game-changing solutions, and supporting mobile solutions to dramatically expand opportunity.
A 2016 report providing metrics for the accomplishments of USAID Forward notes: “USAID has fostered over 420 development innovations through the U.S. Global Development Lab, improving the lives of over 24.5 million people. We are bringing new perspectives to long-standing development challenges: with over 10,000 applicants for innovation grants, 60 percent of which had never before received USAID funding and 25 percent of Grand Challenge applicants coming from developing countries.”19 Perhaps most importantly, USAID Forward puts STI on the agenda of the entire agency, not just one bureau or a select set of missions.
Despite these stated policy priorities, the amount of money across USAID, much less across the U.S. government, for STI+P-related devel-
19 Five Years of USAID Forward, p. 2, https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1869/USAID%20Forward%20Fact%20Sheet%20April%202016.pdf.
opment assistance is not reported in a straightforward way. Figure 3-4 offers five measures of USAID spending—two prospective in FY 2017 and three retrospective from FY 2015, based on different sources of record-keeping in USAID related to science, technology, innovation, and partnerships. Two reporting processes—for “STI” and “Research”—are based on guidance issued by the Office of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources in the Department of State.
A first set of reporting categories focuses on what are called “Three Research Linked Key Issues”:
- Applied research – “systematic study to gain knowledge or understanding necessary to determine the means by which a recognized and specific need may be met.”
- Basic research – “systematic study directed toward fuller knowledge or understanding of the fundamental aspects of phenomena and of observable facts without specific applications toward processes or products in mind.”
- Development research – “systematic application of knowledge or understanding, directed toward the production of useful materials, devices, and systems or methods including design, development, and improvement of prototypes and new processes to meet specific requirements. “
Most USAID-funded research falls under the Applied Research category. In the Congressional Presentation for FY 2017, the total requested for these Research Linked Key Issues is $295,622,000, with applied research at $250,786,000, development research at $40,676,000, and basic research at $4,160,000. 20
Second, the reporting includes a separate Key Issue entitled Science, Technology and Innovation (see Box 3-1). The STI Key Issue attributions are disaggregated into “focused” and “indirect” STI funding levels, defined as follows:
20 USAID Congressional Presentation, FY 2017, p. 280. The basic research identified is drawn from only three country programs—Cambodia at $1.16 million, Egypt at $2.5 million, and Ghana at $0.5 million. The arbitrary and minimal numbers for basic research indicate the absence of incentives to identify projects as being in that category.
- Focused STI funding – “funding that is requested as part of an agency budget for the specific and primary purpose of advancing STI through strategic, operational, or tactical means.”
- Indirect STI funding – “estimated funding for STI-related activities that will be integrated into a wide range of other programs that have other primary purposes (e.g., Feed the Future Initiative).”
The budget request for STI in FY 2017 is $704,178,000. Of that, “focused STI” is set at $488,534,000, and “indirect STI” at $215,644,000. The largest components in focused STI are the core request for the Global Development Lab ($170 million) and a significant part of the Bureau for Food Security, which leads the implementation of the Feed the Future Initiative, at $188 million. Indirect STI is drawn from various parts of the portfolio; the category allows mission directors to attribute project spending to indirect STI as a second-order purpose of a project. For instance, the funds from the Global Health program ($68 million) are identified with each country program rather than being centralized in the Washington bureau. On the other hand, the E3 bureau identifies $11.5 million centrally for indirect STI.
The third relevant category for expenditure reporting is “partnerships.” The reporting guidance narrows partnerships to public-private partnerships (PPP), and excludes several of the most significant initiatives of recent years—namely, the large multistakeholder alliances and the development finance approaches led by the Development Credit
Authority, which are reported separately from STI and which, admittedly, would significantly distort the numbers.21
The PPP reporting in recent years has included the following, with the benchmark qualifier that the investment by USAID has at least a 1:1 match from the partners:
|USAID obligation||Leveraged funds from partners|
|FY 2015 $127 million||$400 million|
|FY 2014 $95 million||$251 million|
|FY 2013 $157 million||$498 million|
|FY 2012 $164 million||$384 million|
One lesson to be drawn from the numbers (and prior numbers back to 2001) is that the scale of PPPs varies greatly year to year. In addition, with PPP as a separate report, the possibility of either double-counting or triple-counting with research and STI occurs, since it overlaps with other reporting categories. The guidance thus created another, distinct category: “To meet senior leadership’s increasing interest in highlighting efforts in Science, Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (STIP), operating units should identify amounts that are attributed BOTH to PPP and to STI (whether Focused or Indirect) Key Issues.” It is not clear from the data whether the staff are able to give the leadership a full picture of the overlap.
Lastly, a fourth approach to accounting for USAID STI+P support exists in the long-standing requirements of Title XII of the Foreign Assistance Act, put in place in the 1970s to create long-term partnerships between U.S. land-grant universities and USAID. The STI sectors of the partnerships have expanded over time, beyond the original focus on nutrition and agriculture-led development, such that it now includes all USAID support of universities, including training, Feed the Future Inno-
21 For instance, the Power Africa alliance is reported to have raised $20 billion in new commitments. The credit guarantees issued by USAID/Development Credit Authority were $695 million in 2015 alone. Other kinds of partnerships (i.e., those not identified as public-private, such as building host-country institutional capacity) also important in STI development, are not treated as a separate reporting category. Instead, the prevailing approach is to report PPPs by development category, and research is not broken out as a category.
vation Labs, biotechnology, engagement of minority-serving institutions, the Higher Education Solutions Network, Young African Leaders Initiative, and others. As part of Title XII, the presidentially- appointed Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD) advises the administrator on university engagement and conducts independent analyses of key issues. BIFAD also files an annual report to Congress that includes data on all USAID support to U.S. higher education institutions to implement research and other STI+P-focused programs. The report showed that the USAID support for U.S. universities in FY 2015 was $645 million, of which $558 million was awarded to Title XII universities. The two categories for FY 2014 were $466 million and $365 million. The striking increases reflect, in small part, the addition of a few areas of support to universities in 2015 not reflected in the 2014 numbers. But more importantly, 90 percent of the increase in 2015 represented actual growth in ongoing programs with the university community—an increase of $163 million in overall support to universities and $173 million to Title XII institutions.22 These numbers are an impressive indication of USAID’s search for new partnerships in the higher education community.
Confusion over the simultaneous budget metrics related to research, STI, and partnerships is not new. Yet, tracking resources is an essential way to understand how public pronouncements mesh with financial commitments. USAID is not alone among federal agencies in facing a challenge in this regard, and might benefit from clearer guidance from the Office of Science and Technology Policy and Office of Management and Budget on technical possibilities for reporting STI+P expenditures to Congress and the public. USAID leadership could also choose a reduced set of options among the many metrics currently in operation.
Finding 3.1: STI+P development plays a vital role in 21st century foreign policy, and the White House and State Department have championed the development of new policies and initiatives to capitalize on this potential. However, a confusing set of overlapping reporting sys-
22 Communication from the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, September 20, 2016.
tems for STI+P investments makes it difficult to accurately describe the level of resources that are being devoted to STI+P in USAID.
USAID Entities that Support STI+P
From its creation in 1961, USAID has employed technical and other staff in Washington and in the field and now has a presence in almost 100 countries. (See Chapter 8 for more discussion about staffing and other human resource issues.) We highlight here the parts of the agency most relevant to this report to understand USAID’s niche within the U.S. government and how the various units interact to plan, implement, and evaluate STI+P-related programs. Appendix A depicts the entire organization beyond the units briefly summarized below.
USAID Missions: On the Ground
USAID missions range in size and complexity, and the mission director is a member of an embassy’s Country Team leadership. The size of missions is not generally public information. One fairly recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) analysis stated that the average
mission size was 73, but pointed out the number was not necessarily proportional to program size. Thus, the GAO criticized USAID for having a 12-person mission at one point in Afghanistan to run one of the largest and riskiest programs, but available slots in the embassy complex had determined staffing.23
Missions serve as the “boots on the ground” and either directly oversee project implementation or keep close communication and coordination with implementing partners to gauge progress. For initiatives coming from Washington, missions contribute important insight into the local contexts that will affect how a proven solution in one country can be adapted and implemented in another. In most instances, the primary counterparts for USAID missions include host-country governments and their ministries of international cooperation, national planning, or technical ministries (e.g., education, environment, and health). Additionally, missions can serve as conduits between U.S.-based academic institutions, investigators, and technical staff engaged in research or development work in-country, potentially an important step in building local capacity, although this varies greatly in practice. Missions can also act as brokers with other bilateral, multilateral, and international or local NGO institutions.
Pillar Bureaus: Technical Expertise
USAID/Washington’s “pillar bureaus,” also known as technical or functional bureaus, provide depth of knowledge by sector (Food Security; Economic Growth, Education, and Environment; Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance; Global Health). They have their own portfolios of scientific research and global projects, which include technical assistance to missions in project design and implementation. Additionally, they can aggregate data and research, giving an evidence base to promising practices that can be scaled up throughout a sector or program. Often, pillar bureaus and Washington-based regional geographic bureaus serve as the coordinators and managers of relationships across the U.S. government inter-agency network, to reduce the complications of communication between U.S. government partners and various mission offices on multiple projects. Finally, offices within each bureau pro-
23 GAO, Afghanistan Reconstruction, GAO-04-403, 2004.
vide field programs with resources for workforce training, relationship building, strategic direction, and resource allocation.
The STI projects originating in the pillar bureaus often combine resources and commitment from both the bureau and missions. The long-standing tradition for measuring that joint commitment is the scale of contributions from the missions for a share of the project implementtation time and expertise, known as mission buy-in. Thus, the lead time for designing and implementing such opportunities can be extensive, since bureaus have to bridge their knowledge and resources with the ability and willingness of USAID missions to build the buy-in into their priorities, as discussed further in Chapter 4.
Global Development Lab: Innovations and Impact
As mentioned in Chapter 1, the leadership of USAID recognized the opportunity to have an externally-looking entity encompassing science, technology and innovation approaches to development. A number of precedent organizations were reviewed as possible models—the Institute for Scientific and Technological Cooperation (authorized in 1979 but never funded), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and NIH—for adaptation to the USAID environment. The resulting Global Development Lab was seen as a bridge to the rapidly changing world of research and innovation in the rest of American society to harvest fresh ideas and develop 21st-century partnerships. Its 2014 launch by the secretary of state underscored the importance of partnerships, when the agency announced 32 “cornerstone partners,” including companies, universities, NGOs, foundations and one country (Sweden).
Since its launch, the Lab has allocated its resources of about $200 million roughly equally across four areas: Science (25 percent of the whole), Technology (25 percent), Innovation (30 percent), and Partnerships (20 percent).24 Further, three different stages of development—Disruption, Development, and Mainstreaming25 —each receive about one-third of each area’s allocation. The Lab also seeks to apply STI+P principles to the development enterprise itself, for example in its focus
24 Committee interview with Lab Director Ann Mei Cheng, July 27, 2016.
25 Committee interview with Lab Director Ann Mei Cheng, July 27, 2016.
The Lab was deliberately set up with a broad, agency-spanning agenda, and an ethos focused on risk-taking and new ways of doing business. To staff up quickly, it drew heavily on temporary staff such as American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellows—postdoctoral scientists and engineers, highly committed and energetic, and not part of long-standing agency culture and practices. The Lab leadership also made the decision to initially focus efforts domestically, building linkages with foundations, other government agencies, and the private sector. A perhaps inevitable friction developed with pillar bureaus as the Lab initially struggled to clarify its agenda and working relationships across the agency. The Lab has since set up an Office of Engagement and Communication to more easily share expertise and tools, and to forge stronger internal relations. As a report of an advisory group to look at Lab operations, convened under the Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid, stated, “When building something new within an organization like USAID, the Lab needs to be providing value. If the other parts of the Agency don’t see the Lab as bringing value to them, then it won’t stick.”26 This point is further explored in Chapter 8.
Finding 3.2: The Global Development Lab is an ambitious organizational innovation intended to open the door to expanded external partnerships, resources, and different ways of doing business to identify and scale critical technologies and innovations. Initial efforts are impressive, but with some initial growing pains.
USAID Collaboration with Other U.S. Government Agencies
As noted above and shown in Table 3-1, USAID works with many other agencies within the U.S. government on STI development, including federal science agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health
26 Carol Dahl, “Strengthening the U.S. Global Development Lab: Lab Advisory Group Recommendations to Enhance the Use of STIP for Greater Development Impact,” October 30, 2015.
and the U.S. Geological Survey,27 as well as agencies with science and/or technology as part of their mandate, such as the Departments of Agriculture and Energy. USAID’s field presence provides valuable linkages to science agencies without an ongoing in-country presence, either because of lack of authority or lack of resources. USAID, in turn, does not support or conduct fundamental research nor develop new technologies, so it can benefit from other agencies’ expertise and connections.
In 2010, Haiti suffered a catastrophic earthquake, exacerbating already extreme conditions. Ordered by President Obama and coordinated by USAID, a rapid, extensive “whole-of-government” approach provided critical support.28 This fairly seamless response to a crisis brought out, as many observers commented, the best in what the U.S government can achieve together. Coordinated by USAID, each agency had its role from search-and-rescue to sanitation to housing.
Ironically, the kind of coordination that often emerges organically and effectively in a catastrophe retreats amidst everyday pressures. As brought up by agency officials in committee interviews, collaboration is happening. But there are more opportunities on which to capitalize—and sometimes tensions to resolve. When USAID has the funds and the authority, but another entity has more specialized knowledge, who has the lead? When a field perspective points to one path, but awareness of the current state-of-the-art points to another, which takes precedence? When multiple agencies are involved, the complexity and ambiguity only increase. No single answer exists, but it is an inherent tension to acknowledge, and thus to work toward bridging.
Finding 3.3: There is interest from other U.S. government agencies to work with USAID, based on shared goals, complementary expertise, and leveraged resources, but operationalizing these partnerships has proven difficult, in part due to differing authorizations, funding cycles,
27 USAID, Federal Science Agencies, https://www.usaid.gov/what-we-do/science-technolog-and-innovation/international-research-science-programs/federal-science.
28 Paul Weisenfeld, Successes and challenges of the Haiti earthquake response: The experience of USAID, Emory International Law Review, 25(3).
and funding streams. The potential for productive multiagency collaborations around STI+P is not being fully realized.
Many U.S. government agencies have well-established collaboration with USAID on personnel, funding, and technical cooperation, both in Washington and at missions. As highlighted in Table 3-1, some agencies rely on USAID to operate in the field in the absence of their own congressional authorization, or they have paired resources in order to facilitate international collaborations. A recent example is the memorandum of understanding between USAID and the National Science Foundation to manage the Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) program (see above and Chapter 5), which brings together U.S. and non-U.S. researchers. U.S. Department of Agriculture employees have long worked within USAID. Finding ways for USAID employees to deploy for short-term or long-term assignments in other agencies might strengthen intra-government work for development, as might finding creative ways to inform Foreign Service Officers about the range of expertise and resources available to them.
Another intra-U.S. government issue relates to research funding. As noted above, USAID can inform discussions about basic research needs and invest in applied and development research directly related to its mission. The committee noted USAID might also play a role in agencies’ Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant-making by bringing in a global perspective for relevant applications. SBIR funding goes to U.S. companies; potentially some of these private-sector researchers could focus on developing-country issues. USAID could also advocate for funding for academic research related to new technologies, similar to investigator-initiated research program grants in the biological and physical sciences.
Finding 3.4: A gap exists for U.S. government funding of technology-based development research by small-business and academic researchers. USAID could help fill that gap by sharing on-the-ground knowledge to agencies that fund SBIR grants and to other grant-making institutions.
This chapter has looked at USAID policy and strategies, particularly as they are influenced by other parts of Washington—the White House,
Congress, the Department of State and other agencies. Such is the reason for the placement of “Agency policies and strategies” at the top of USAID’s program cycle (Figure 3-5). It is important to understanding that cycle, as portrayed by USAID to its staff and partners, in moving into the following three chapters that review the next components: planning through the Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) process, project design and implementation, and monitoring and evaluation.
Recommendation 3.1: USAID and other U.S. agencies should set up mechanisms—such as through ad hoc advisory or working groups—to facilitate mutually beneficial relationships around common STI development concerns. USAID should propose to the Office of Science and Technology Policy that it create a position to be filled by an experienced USAID staff member on detail, to focus on STI+P in international
development (per PPD-6) and on coordinating interagency advisory and working-group activities around common STI development issues.
Recommendation 3.2: USAID and the Department of State should seek clearer guidance from the White House (Office of Science and Technology Policy and Office of Management and Budget) on technical possibilities for reporting STI+P expenditures. USAID leadership should choose a single option to more clearly quantify its STI+P investments and lead an inventory of STI+P-related investments in developing countries across all federal agencies, which would help inform its own and other agencies’ efforts.
Recommendation 3.3: USAID should set up formal and informal exchanges to strengthen STI+P coordination and share expertise. For example, USAID could establish, through Interagency Personnel Agreements or other mechanisms, a way for USAID staff to have short-term or long-term assignments in other agencies to understand their expertise and constraints. Washington-based Global Development Lab and mission staff would also benefit from personnel exchanges or short-term rotations. For Foreign Service Officers, an introduction to STI+P resources should form part of initial training and in-service consultations prior to overseas assignments, including exposure to the international offices of federal science agencies working closely with USAID.
Recommendation 3.4: USAID’s leadership should work with the oversight committees in Congress in 2017 to focus on broad STI strategies, ensuring the agency has the institutional capacity to expand its work on STI activities, including the creation of room for hiring staff with technical qualifications and experience, and removing impediments to USAID working more closely with science agencies.
|Organization||Authorized to Spend Funds Abroad||Joint Planning or MOU||Examples of Collaboration||Coordinator|
|STATE||Yes||QDDR and Joint Strategy||PEPFAR, Feed the Future||Bureau of Budget and Planning|
|USGS||Limited||Yes||Intl Technical Assistance Program; FEWS NET||Office of International Affairs|
|Millennium Challenge Corporation||Yes||Yes||Feed the Future; implementation of Country Programs||MCC CEO|
|Energy||Yes||No||Climate Change, Power Africa||Office of International Affairs|
|Treasury||Yes||Yes||Budget and Financial Services/Financial Inclusion, GAFSP||Office of Technical Assistance|
|HHS Centers for Disease Control||Yes||Yes||Pandemic threats/Ebola in West Africa/PEPFAR||HHS Office of Global Health Affairs|
|USDA||Yes||Yes||Feed the Future/Global Nutrition/PL480||Research, Education, and Economics; Foreign Agricultural Service|
|NIH||Yes||No||PEER Health||Fogarty Center|
|NASA||Limited||Yes||SERVIR/PEER/LAUNCH||Office of Intl and Interagency Relations|
|Defensea||Yes||2015 USAID Policy||Ebola, Syria relief, Tsunami response||Regional Commands|
|NOAA||Limited||Project Based||Geospatial Analysis/FEWSNET/Climate Changes|
|GAO||Yes||Yes||Improve host government auditing capacity||Center for Audit Excellence|
|USTR||Yes||Project Based||Feed the Future partner|
aUSAID Policy on Copperation with the Department of Defense, https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1866/USAIDPolicyCooperationDoD.pdf.