Experience:

A Potential Tool for Improving U.S. Assistance Abroad

ID-82-36: Published: Jun 15, 1982. Publicly Released: Jun 15, 1982.

Additional Materials:

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GAO examined how the Agency for International Development (AID) identifies, records, and uses the knowledge and experience gained from development projects.

Many causal factors, both within and outside of AID influence, have contributed to its recent slow project completion record. GAO found that the AID staff does not apply lessons learned in the development of new projects. The application of this information is restricted primarily to the personal initiative and experience of individuals involved in a particular project. This personal experience network for finding and using lessons learned is weakened as a result of staff turnover. Lessons learned are neither systematically nor comprehensively identified or recorded by those who are directly involved. Further, little encouragement or incentive is provided to AID staff members to routinely identify and record the lessons they learn. The AID institutional memory system for projects is a potentially valuable and useful tool that can complement personal experience and other sources which AID staff members currently use. However, the use and value of this system are limited by a lack of staff knowledge about the system, lack of user feedback, necessary documents not being forwarded and subsequently entered in the system, and a lack of an information analysis service for AID staff. The AID information system has become virtually inoperative in providing information to project designers. This system also has inadequate records of project experience.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of AID should require AID staff to identify, record, use, and forward to the AID Office of Development Information and Utilization lessons learned in project design and implementation. These requirements should be supported by top AID management through the establishment of appropriate incentives.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of AID should implement actions to: (1) increase AID staff awareness of available Development Information System (DIS) information and how to use the system; (2) require that DIS be used; (3) ensure that the AID Office of Development Information and Utilization (DIU) receives project and related lessons-learned documents; (4) require an exchange of constructive feedback between the DIU and AID staffs on DIS; and (5) establish an information analysis capability to assist AID project designers and program managers.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

 

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