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The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID (2017)

Chapter: 5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation

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Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
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5

USAID Program Cycle and STI+P: Project Design and Implementation

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) accomplishes its objectives by planning and implementing discrete projects and activities. This chapter focuses on the transition from the planning phase considered in Chapter 4 to the formulation and implementation of projects. Expanding science, technology, innovation, and partnerships (STI+P) at USAID requires integration at this granular level. This chapter identifies changes in the planning-to-projects continuum that could facilitate greater levels of STI+P.

FROM PLANNING TO PROJECTS

A program at USAID includes all projects and other activities associated with a particular development objective. Missions, through the elaboration of development objectives, define a set of projects. Project Appraisal Documents spell out the mission’s approach to implementation, including the kinds of partners that will help achieve the goals of each project and the methods of evaluation to ensure accountability and to contribute to the learning process (see Chapter 6).

USAID defines a project as “a set of executed interventions, over an established timeline and budget, intended to achieve a discrete development result by resolving an associated problem.”1 Activities are the components of the project. They may be implemented through contracts or cooperative agreements, or carried out by USAID staff directly.

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1 USAID Project Design Guidance, December 9, 2011, http://usaidprojectstarter.org/sites/default/files/resources/pdfs/PDACS686.pdf, p. 9.

Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
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STI PROJECT IMPLEMENTERS AND PARTNERS

As stated in USAID Project Design Guidance, USAID staff design, manage, coordinate, and facilitate, but do not directly undertake, day-to-day project implementation.2 A range of implementing partners help USAID integrate STI+P into programs, projects, and activities. As described earlier and again below, these partners offer important capabilities, such as in-depth scientific expertise, marketing and commercial reach, or a wholly different approach to solving a problem. Project design and implementation also provide a way to build STI+P capacity within countries, such as through research partnerships or commercial joint ventures. This structure means that USAID staff need to be adept at overseeing, facilitating, and managing the science, technology, and implementation (STI) work undertaken by implementers of all types.

Implementing partners at the country level can bring local and national connections, cultural understanding, and often community trust. Roles of implementing partners vary from convening private-sector leaders and resources, such as Grow Africa’s role in the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition,3 to reforming national-level policy and regulation, such as the Alliance for Affordable Internet’s work in six countries to revise tax laws and liberalize Internet markets.4 Partners can also work directly with governments to build capacity, demonstrated by the ASEAN-U.S. Science and TechnologyFellows Program, which places

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2 The guidance states, “a USAID project is not an implementing mechanism; rather it is a planning and management framework under which several activities, or project sub-components, are funded and executed on an integrated basis to achieve an IR [Intermediate Result]”. Ibid.

3 Established in 2013, Grow Africa is a key implementing partner of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which helps catalyze investment in African agriculture. This partnership platform encourages Africa’s agricultural potential through private-sector investments and leverages the resources, reach, and expertise of the World Economic Forum, African Union Commission, New Partnership for Africa’s Development, and multiple companies, financial institutions, civil society organizations and other donors. See USAID, Partnering for Impact: USAID and the Private Sector, March 2015. Available at https://www.usaid.gov/documents/15396/partnering-impact-report-usaid-and-private-sector.

4 Information about the Alliance for Affordable Internet is available at http://a4ai.org. See also Ibid, p. 33.

Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×

early-career scientists in the government ministries of their home countries to facilitate science-based decisions and policy-making.5

One set of partnerships is not necessarily better than another. They differ in scope, complexity, organization, implementation, and design, and contributes different tools—research and development (R&D), venture capital, business organizational and managerial talent, university training, and the like. Some partnerships (R&D and university training, for example) are more relevant at an upstream training-and-capacity stage; others (Development Innovation Ventures (DIV), Grand Challenges) at a more downstream, technology-deployment stage. USAID has avoided a single template for partnerships, since each partner brings different assets to its overall objectives. Below, we highlight aspects of these different sets of partnerships.

Science and Technology Partners

As noted earlier in this report, USAID does not fund basic research, but it does fund applied or translational research that it or others can test, improve upon, and, ideally, scale (see Box 5-1 for an example). Moreover, it can tap individuals with scientific depth on relevant topics for discrete assignments or to broadly offer their expertise.

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5 Information about the ASEAN-U.S. Science and Technology Fellowships is available at https://www.usaid.gov/asia-regional/documents/asean-us-science-and-technology-fellowship.

Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×

Bilateral Cooperation

In several countries, bilateral STI engagement exists in which USAID is a key partner in supporting research cooperation. For example, since 1995, the U.S.-Egypt Science and Technology Joint Fund has supported cooperative research, with funds provided equally by USAID/Egypt and the Egyptian Ministry of Scientific Research.6 Representatives from both countries make up the board. (The National Academies co-manages the program along with the Science and Technology Development Fund in Cairo.) To date, the joint fund has supported nearly 400 projects and involved more than 800 co-investigators from both countries. Similarly, in 2003, the governments of Pakistan and the United States signed a comprehensive bilateral Science and Technology Agreement. USAID, the Department of State, and Pakistani technical ministries combine funding annually for the Pakistan-U.S. Science and Technology Cooperation Program.7 To date, the program has supported nearly 100 collaborative research projects that involve 38 Pakistani

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6 Program information is available at http://sites.nationalacademies.org/pga/egypt/index.htm.

7 Program information is available at http://sites.nationalacademies.org/PGA/pakistan/index.htm.

Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×

higher education institutions and 63 U.S. universities and R&D institutes in development-related fields.

These two programs have advanced mutual scientific research and development outcomes, established and strengthened bonds between academic research communities, and built STI capacity in Egypt and Pakistan. In recent years, the oversight committees of each program have introduced follow-on research grants in the areas of innovation and commercialization. These USAID-funded programs are significant because of their jointly funded mechanisms in pursuit of research collaborations and shared administration and proposal reviews, which use U.S. standards of competitive, merit-based peer review.

It is also important to connect research with national STI policies. For instance, since the United States and Indonesia confirmed their mutual commitment to advance STI by signing a bilateral agreement in 2012, USAID/Indonesia significantly increased its support for Indonesian science capacity and collaborations with U.S. scientists. This led the mission to establish an STI development objective as part of its Country Development Cooperation Strategy (see Box 4-1 in the previous chapter). USAID/Indonesia sought to deepen ties with the Indonesian Academy of Sciences, which became the key institution to champion for and establish the Indonesian Science Fund in 2016, the country’s first independent body to provide competitive merit-based and peer-reviewed research funding for Indonesian scientists.

Collaborative Research

USAID supports collaborative research through the Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) program. Since its inception in 2011, the program, now overseen by the Global Development Lab, has funded scientists in USAID host countries who work with U.S. partners on development-related research. PEER has grown into a global research portfolio involving 40 countries where 160 grants totaling more than $28 million support a diverse range of collaborative projects (see Box 5-2 for examples). PEER projects represent capacity-building efforts in countries where researchers have limited access to funding. The program provides a model for leveraging funds from other U.S. government agencies for science, by matching USAID funds for developing country scientists with support from an agency such as NSF for the

Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×

U.S. counterpart. The list of agencies participating continues to grow and now includes NSF, NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Geological Survey, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Agriculture (Agricultural Research Service, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and Forest Service), and the Smithsonian.

In 2012, USAID initiated the Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN), a multi-disciplinary research and development effort led by six U.S. universities and Makerere University in Uganda to evaluate and strengthen innovations in development.8 HESN is focused on STI+P and enables universities to contribute their approaches to the challenges they identify—to describe how and with whom they would address the identified challenge.

U.S. universities clearly bring much to the expansion of STI at USAID. The long history, with many ups and downs, of their role in USAID’s programming reflects the significant capacity of the academic community, deep and extensive ties between scientists and engineers in USAID host countries and U.S. universities, and strong interest by faculty and students to contribute to alleviating global poverty. USAID has re-calibrated existing mechanisms for partnerships in recent years, such as the conversion of the agricultural Collaborative Research Support Programs (CRSPs) into innovation centers, encouraging university-based researchers to participate in the open competitions of DIV and PEER, and increasing its contracting with universities for implementation support for projects.

Finding 5.1: USAID plays a valuable role in building scientific capacity in partner countries. A number of examples illustrate this, as in Egypt, Indonesia, Uganda, and Pakistan. Each country has been a partner for USAID in a different program context, such as the PEER, HESN, and bilateral research cooperation. This role is enhanced by USAID’s ability to leverage funding from other U.S. science agencies to support scientist partners from the United States.

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8 Program information is available at https://www.usaid.gov/hesn.

Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×
Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×

Multilateral Organizations

In the crowded development landscape, there is much to gain from a conscious incorporation of the work of multilateral development organizations. The first aspect is to harvest lessons learned from their evaluations of comparable STI activities in the countries and sectors under consideration. For instance, the World Bank’s evaluation reports on its large-sector loans provide a wide range of lessons. By sector, information gathered by CGIAR centers about agricultural projects can shed light on prior investments in research and technologies. Regional development banks provide insights through their deep roots in a geographical subset of countries (Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe).

Secondly, an awareness of where multilateral entities are currently investing in STI, or are actively considering it, helps to avoid a traffic jam of projects focusing on the same challenge. Complementary approaches

Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×

to address a common development challenge pays dividends for everyone. A collaborative or parallel approach increases the likelihood of meeting the goals of the aid-effectiveness movement.9

Nongovernmental Organizations

USAID recognizes nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), which range from large international entities to local, community-based groups, as critical change agents. Their early involvement in the USAID program cycle could prevent unnecessary waste of time and efforts. PATH, a U.S.-based health organization that works in nearly 70 countries, provides an example of a larger NGO. PATH combines technology development with a goal to take innovations to scale, as it attempts to do in its Center for Vaccine Innovation and Access.10 While PATH’s leadership supports the push for innovation and USAID’s mechanisms and flexibility to support it, it also recognizes USAID should not “cast off” traditional approaches that have proven successful.

Developing-country NGOs, some quite sizable, are also key USAID partners. For instance, BRAC began in Bangladesh in the early 1970s. As it gained experience, it has expanded to 12 countries, from Haiti to the Philippines. It has pioneered production and storage advances and also promoted environmentally friendly farming. BRAC has worked with USAID in Asia and, more recently, in Africa.11

Within the USAID Forward initiative, the agency committed to increasing the local procurement rate. By the five-year report from the initiative, USAID reported that more than 27 percent of all mission funding had gone into local procurement, including from NGOs.12 Nevertheless, a difficult dilemma in involving small, local groups centers on proposal, reporting, and other requirements of most USAID-funded pro-

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9 See https://www.oecd.org/dac/effectiveness/parisdeclarationandaccraagendaforaction.htm.

10 PATH presentation by Steven Davis, president and CEO, Committee Workshop, May 19, 2016.

11 More information is available at www.brac.net.

12 Save the Children has reviewed the progress of the “Local Solutions” part of USAID Forward. See http://www.savethechildren.org/atf/cf/%7B9def2ebe-10ae432c-9bd0-df91d2eba74a%7D/TRACKING-USAIDS-EFFORTS-FINAL-JAN-2015.PDF.

Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×

jects. The advantages local groups offer in terms of community knowledge and support are significant, but many small nonprofits (and, indeed, businesses and other entities) do not have the skill sets and resources, nor understand the need, for some of what USAID must do to comply with U.S. laws. A recent USAID program called Localworks* is designed to help missions create bridges with smaller organizations by making the process less cumbersome. It stems in part from a congressional mandate, the Development Grants Program, to partner with a more diverse set of organizations. Clearly, this issue is relevant to much more of USAID’s portfolio beyond STI+P projects, but it could be particularly important to STI+P in coming years as local NGO capacity becomes more competitive.

Private Sector

USAID has partnered with the private sector since its founding in 1961, but the approach and perspective on collaboration have evolved to mirror the changing U.S. business environment and international development goals. In the early 2000s, USAID began to take steps to define partnerships in areas that needed the capacity, expertise, and development approaches of the for-profit sector. The conceptual underpinning of the emphasis came from the new, start-up economy culture that has driven U.S. growth since the 1990s. As digital, decentralizing, and mobile technologies have accelerated their move from the United States to developing countries, USAID has found new programming modes and collaborations. For example, in 2010, the leadership convened a summit of innovators, scientists, and USAID officials to find ways to mainstream private-sector collaboration rather than treat it as an exception.

As noted in Chapter 2, USAID engaged in more than 360 partnerships with the private sector in 2015; an effort coordinated by the Global Development Lab provides a publicly available dataset that characterizes approximately 1,600 such partnerships over 12 years.13 USAID con-

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13Partnering for Impact: USAID and the Private Sector, 2015. Available at: https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/15396/usaid_partnership%20report_FINAL3.pdf. See also Winnette Richards and Lisa Liu, “What USAID

Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×

tributes to the Vaccine Alliance, a highly successful ongoing effort in the health sector, for example, and to the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). Box 5-3 shows how an explicitly STI+P public-private partnership, drawing on the contributions of USAID, business, local and international NGOs, and the United Nations, can benefit women and girls.

USAID considers its Global Development Alliance, launched in 2001, a model for public-private partnerships. The guidelines are simple: (1) at least 1:1 leverage (cash and in-kind) of USAID resources; (2) common goals defined for all partners; (3) jointly defined solution to a social or economic development problem; (4) non-traditional resource partners; (5) shared resources, risks, and results; and (6) innovative, sustainable approaches to development. At this point, 3,500 different partners have participated, with a total investment of about $20 billion.

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has learned from its public-private partnership data,” Devex Impact, August 3, 2016.

Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×

The Partnering to Accelerate Entrepreneurship (PACE) initiative connects entrepreneurs with investors to drive economic growth through market-based solutions. Since 2014, the Global Development Lab has created 10 public-private partnerships dedicated to testing innovative models or approaches to bridge the gap that exists between high-risk, but promising, early-stage enterprises and impact investors. Examples include support for projects focusing on goals such as affordable energy and potable water, as well as those that evaluate accelerator programs and scale existing businesses. Bringing these projects into the economic mainstream is the ultimate goal, with full mobilization of market forces.

At this point, determining the effectiveness of these private-sector partnerships is not straightforward; for instance, the extent private-sector satisfaction with these programs is a recurrent, but unanswered, question. As one evaluation said, “The relative newness of a private sector role in international development, the reluctance of corporations to publicize their market investments or the evaluation of their investments, the inconsistency in definitions for private sector work, and USAID’s renewed emphasis on rigorous evaluation of programs, means that there is no consistent long-term evidence...”14

Engaging Nontraditional Implementers and Partners

The current leadership has also significantly widened the deliberations on partnerships and has expanded to nontraditional arenas, such as a growing engagement with the private insurance industry. The industry now issues catastrophic insurance for severe events in partner countries, such as for earthquakes and hurricanes, and is now moving into coverage of pandemics. Matching such openness, on the USAID side, has been the development of new mechanisms, such as the Global Development Lab-managed Development Innovation Ventures and the Grand Challenges for Development. (See Chapter 2 for USAID-provided descriptions of the two programs.)

DIV, launched in 2010, finds, tests, and scales ideas that could radically improve approaches to more inclusive global prosperity. DIV in-

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14 See http://www.creativeassociatesinternational.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Survey_Of_Trends.pdf p.16.

Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×

vests in ideas across three stages of growth—Stage 1 Proof of Concept, Stage 2 Testing at Scale, and Stage 3 Widespread Implementation — with funding awards increasing as the projects grow. A Stage 3 venture shows how small innovations can lead to widespread adoption and impact on people’s lives: in this case, a small sign in Kenyan busses that urges riders to speak up when the drivers are driving unsafely. The pilot project led to a nationwide requirement, supported by the insurance industry and the government, to place these signs in all public-transport vehicles.15

DIV deliberately encourages applications for Stage 1 funding from people who have never dealt with USAID before. The proposals generally present higher risk than normal USAID standards. In the first five years, the DIV made 43 awards worth $17 million, at least five of which reach more than 1 million people each. A review of conditions that enable a DIV project to reach Stage 3 impact points to the value of building on a research base and finding an organization with an existing wide reach in the public or private sector to expand beyond proof of concept.16 The review also showed that innovations with the lowest cost per person achieved the greatest scalability. DIV awards has mostly been in the health and agriculture sectors, but management intends to grow its work in education.

The committee could not draw substantive conclusions about the future of DIV. Too few awards have progressed through Stage 2 and Stage 3 to be able to generalize. Evaluation of the program is now underway, and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently issued a report looking at DIV practices as compared with the venture capital industry. The GAO concluded that DIV employs state-of-the-art performance measures in assessing the outcomes. At the same time, the GAO noted that DIV has refrained, to date, from setting targets for

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15 James Habyarimana and William Jack, Results of a large-scale randomized behavior change intervention on road safety in Kenya, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), published online August 10, 2015, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1422009112. PNAS, August 25, 2015, 112 (34), pp. E4661-E4670.

16 Committee interview, Michael Kremer, Scientific Director, DIV, August 10, 2016.

Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×

the program, preferring to expand the range of indicators to test their appropriateness.17

At the same time, the indications of success have persuaded others to join USAID in similar global opportunities for including a broad spectrum of innovators. In 2015, the Global Innovation Fund (GIF) was announced in London with a corporate approach somewhat like DIV. A consortium of funders (governments of the United Kingdom, Sweden, Australia; USAID; and the Omidyar Network) committed $200 million over five years to draw in innovators globally.18 This fund differs from DIV in that it can use nongrant finance (debt, convertible debt, equity), which is critical to the finance of innovations. (A constraint of DIV operating within USAID is its reliance on grants exclusively.) Others, including Grand Challenges Canada, have also blended grant and nongrant finance. Clearly, there is increased interest and funds invested in these approaches, and only time will tell if the impact rises proportionally.

A complementary approach, Grand Challenges for Development (GCD), was inspired by similar initiatives by foundations and several federal agencies. Within this initiative, priorities define the problem, data are used to identify constraints, and evaluations provide evidence-based analysis. In effect, DIV provides an open platform for innovation, while Grand Challenges for Development is more targeted. Other organizations have used this combined strategy. For example, Grand Challenges Canada has three targeted grand challenges and a more open platform called “Stars in Global Health,” with almost 500 innovations to date. The mobilization of hundreds of applications for each challenge is considered a success, not only for the concrete results but also for creating a community of interested researchers in a targeted development problem.

Thus far, USAID and partners have launched eight Grand Challenges across most development sectors of USAID programming: health, agriculture, water, education, and democracy/governance. The Saving Lives at Birth challenge has gone through six cycles, creating a challenge-linked affinity group that extends cooperation well beyond the

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17 GAO, Foreign Assistance: USAID Venture Capital Approach Relies on Evidence of Results but Could Strengthen Collaboration among Similar Programs. GAO-16-142. December 2015.

18 For more information, see http://www.globalinnovation.fund/about-us.

Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×

time period of the awards themselves.19 The other challenges have mostly been single-cycle efforts, and their long-term impacts are less clear.

There is no balance sheet for USAID’s Grand Challenges program.20 The individual challenges differ in their problem scopes, ambitions, number of partners, and resources. The program has not fully mobilized partners among other U.S. government agencies that could bring expertise.21 Its purpose appears to have evolved over time, from emphasizing a data-based approach, to defining a program, to finding a short-cut through the agency’s project development cycle in order to meet a highly visible issue, as in the Grand Challenge for Zika and Future Threats (2016) and the Grand Challenge for Fighting Ebola (2014).

The committee does not have rigorous evaluative evidence to conclude whether Grand Challenges for Development represent an important opportunity for USAID programming in the long term. It is too early to test this crowdsourcing approach to know if it enhances development impacts. Nevertheless, reviews of the program to date, along with numerous interviews, indicate that the program has generated excitement and has suggested new ways for people to make a contribution to the U.S. development program. One should not overlook the inherent collaboration in the Grand Challenges for Development program. All of them incorporate other donors, the private sector, NGOs, and other agencies to ensure a shared strategic perspective on transformative “larger bets.” The most effective challenges—for example, Saving Lives at Birth—appear to change the development trajectory of focus countries and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals agenda.

The Obama administration made a strong case for the cultivation of nontraditional partners to work with USAID, just as the Bush administration did with its Global Development Alliance. They point to a res-

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19 For more information, see https://savinglivesatbirth.net/.

20 It should be pointed out that Grand Challenge programs of other sponsors have had positive evaluations. Two external reviews of Grand Challenges Canada, found at http://www.grandchallenges.ca/who-we-are/evaluations/, found it provides value for money. The Gates Foundation continuously evaluates its programs and has found the Grand Challenges approach successful in its primary goal of handing off innovations to program-specific teams.

21 Gray Handley, NIH, at Committee Workshop Presentation, May 19, 2016.

Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×

ervoir of public support for U.S. global leadership, with development programs a tangible way to express that leadership. The enthusiasm of young people in the United States to address global issues has to be recognized and fostered, because agencies like USAID depend ultimately on public and congressional support. If new partnerships can support that process, there should be space for experimentation with new approaches, initiated by the Global Development Lab and propagated throughout the agency.22

Nontraditional partners also can reinforce the role of development assistance in the overall context of U.S. foreign policy. Examples discussed by the committee included American universities in the Middle East and Afghanistan, alumni communities (Americans and non-Americans) from U.S. universities living in USAID countries and/or countries in conflict or opposed to U.S. policies, and diaspora networks of STI professionals living in the United States who maintain connections with their countries of origin.

Finding 5.2: Recent institutional innovations at USAID such as Development Innovation Ventures, Higher Education Solutions Network, and the Grand Challenges for Development have sought to make it easier for the private sector, U.S. universities, and nontraditional partners to contribute ideas and engage differently with the agency. While the impact of these changes is uncertain, they do appear to be playing a role in expanding awareness about the STI+P role of USAID and motivating the private sector and individuals around the world to approach the agency with partnership ideas and resources.

BETTER INCORPORATING STI INTO PROGRAMS

A high level of interest in using STI+P exists at the mission level, but some express concerns that it is not adequately incentivized. Adding on a requirement to incorporate STI+P in projects in order to gain approval creates more work, not normally reflected in job descriptions and evaluations. Moreover, risk taking and innovation are not rewarded in the current evaluation and promotion system. If there were incentives through STI+P performance measures and work objectives, more staff

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22 Interview with Rajiv Shah, Former Administrator, August 10, 2016.

Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×

members and, in turn, more mission offices may take a closer look at STI+P incorporation, as occurred in India (see Box 5-4).

While the goal remains to bring science and research into the early stages of program design, it is hard to accomplish. Ideally, STI+P-related

Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×

program and project design would occur more frequently between a mission and Washington-based resources (technical bureaus and the Global Development Lab) to share ideas and expertise in a more strategic manner. Occasionally, STI+P advisors sit on design teams, but on an ad hoc basis. From a mission perspective, experts in technical bureaus could profitably spend more time planning and talking to people in-country before they initiate Washington-based projects to ensure the assumed need is correct and reduce redundancy. Having more Foreign Service Officers with mission experience in the technical bureaus and Lab could improve awareness and understanding of mission needs.

A perpetual challenge for missions is finding efficient, targeted channels to discover how relevant research can inform new projects. The Lab and technical bureaus can serve as those channels. They can organize and identify conferences or other relationship-building mechanisms to inform missions about current, relevant research occurring in the United States or other countries. The staff time and budgetary resources to gain additional input are often in short supply within missions. With a Global Health Bureau workshop on cutting-edge research related to the science of implementation as one example among many, Washington bureaus play an important role in raising the profile of STI for program implementation, within the agency but also more widely, to a new level. 23

Another challenge exists to move beyond specific projects to create a “culture of STI+P” in a more holistic fashion. Foreign Service National (FSN) staff—vital to missions for their local connections and institutional knowledge—might not have STI expertise; without a way to acquire it, concerns about job stability can emerge. Activities such as program design and stakeholder workshops to advance STI+P thought leadership can help create this culture and build the knowledge base. Many missions pay for these types of activities through their own funding mechanisms. The Lab has also started to provide rotational training opportunities for FSN staff to spend time at the Lab and return to their countries with more advanced knowledge of agency STI+P priorities and resources.

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23 “Why Research Matters: The Role of Implementation Research in Improving Health Outcomes for Newborns, Children, and Mothers,” end-of-project workshop convened by the Health Research Program, July 14, 2016.

Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×

Currently, USAID uses several different types of approaches to solicit STI input, ranging from crowdsourcing to workshops to prizes. Processes within the Federal Acquisition Regulations also have the potential to broaden opportunities, such as the Broad Agency Announcements (BAA) described in Chapter 8. If Washington were to develop additional ways to marry its resources with mission needs, a more sustainable program could incentivize the private sector and civil society in a country to become more involved in leveraging STI for problem-solving.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Recommendation 5.1: USAID should expand incentives for mission and Washington staff to systematically incorporate science, technology, and innovation approaches as they develop programs and projects. Along with the standard career incentives, staff should receive the necessary training and real-time mentorship to oversee, facilitate, and manage the expanding portfolio of STI activities conducted by project implementers. Some hands-on training might be achieved through inter-agency exchanges with other U.S. technical agencies. Contracting modes for STI implementers should be the focus of simplification. Pilot efforts involving central bureaus and key missions are real-time experiments for building this capacity, and should be encouraged across more Washington offices and additional missions.

Recommendation 5.2: USAID should improve its approach to building and engaging with STI+P capacity in partner countries, both directly and indirectly through innovative programs suc as DIV, PEER, and HESN. The agency should intensify use of its expanded evaluation methodologies to identify lessons from these programs in creating and sustaining collaborations with developing country researchers and institutions.

Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×

Recommendation 5.3: USAID should continue to expand the promising institutional innovations that have helped to open the agency up to greater and more creative engagement with the private sector, universities, and non-traditional partners, including in developing countries. USAID should, for instance, invest in expanding the staged funding model pioneered through its Development Innovation Ventures, which is intended to identify promising new or existing ideas, rigorously test them, and support their going to scale.

Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×
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Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×
Page 90
Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×
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Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×
Page 92
Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×
Page 93
Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×
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Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×
Page 95
Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×
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Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×
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Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×
Page 98
Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×
Page 99
Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×
Page 100
Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×
Page 101
Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×
Page 102
Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×
Page 103
Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×
Page 104
Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×
Page 105
Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×
Page 106
Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×
Page 107
Suggested Citation:"5 USAID Program Cycle and STI P: Project Design and Implementation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24617.
×
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The United States has long recognized that the nation’s prosperity and security depend on how we address challenges of disasters, poverty, famine, and disease around the world. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has played a vital role in promoting U.S. national and international interests by advancing strategies for employing science, technology, and innovation to respond to global challenges. The focus by USAID on science, technology, and innovation is critical to improve development outcomes. At the core of this progress is the engagement of science institutions and other innovative enterprises and their commitment to work in partnership with USAID to research, test, and scale solutions.

The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in the Future of USAID provides an assessment and advice on the current and future role for science, technology, and innovation in assistance programs at USAID and on the role of partnerships in the public and private sectors to expand impact. This report examines challenges and opportunities for USAID in expanding the utilization of science, technology, and innovation in development assistance; assesses how USAID has deployed science, technology, and innovation; and recommends priority areas for improvement going forward in partnership with others.

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