Foreign Aid:

Issues Concerning U.S. University Participation

NSIAD-89-38: Published: Apr 11, 1989. Publicly Released: Apr 11, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed efforts by the Agency for International Development (AID) and the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD) to implement title XII of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, which encourages the involvement of U.S. land-grant, sea-grant, and eligible universities in AID development activities, focusing on: (1) the impact of changes in the AID budgetary and administration environments on title XII implementation; (2) procurement issues that hinder title XII implementation; and (3) whether there has been improvement in AID-university efforts to increase commitment to supporting international agricultural development activities.

GAO found that title XII project activity declined between 1982 and 1988, and officials believe that the downward trend will continue because of: (1) a decrease in the primary funding source for title XII activities; (2) changing congressional and AID priorities; and (3) the reluctance of some AID staff to use title XII universities. GAO also found that: (1) neither AID nor BIFAD accurately tracked title XII activities; (2) AID has not submitted required annual reports to Congress since 1984; (3) although AID has issued several impact studies on university-implemented projects, the studies do not fully discuss all issues pertinent to title XII; (4) AID did not require its contracting officers to evaluate university compliance with the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges' (NASULGC) principles regarding international development activities; (5) BIFAD has not developed a comprehensive register of title XII universities which it could use to match university capabilities with AID needs; (6) AID was reluctant to use set-asides limiting contractor competition for title XII projects to title XII universities because it did not have confidence in universities' capabilities and did not want to limit competition; and (7) the AID set-aside procurement mechanism was not consistent with statutory competition requirements.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The AID Center for University Development completed a registry of universities involved in AID Collaborative Research Support programs. This registry is only a subset of the recommended registry. However, given the reorganization of AID university focus away from title XII, the recommendation should be closed.

    Recommendation: BIFAD should place priority on developing a comprehensive and current registry of university resources to facilitate its ability to match university capabilities with AID needs.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development: Board for International Food and Agricultural Development

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AID request for proposals require title XII universities to include statements regarding their compliance with the NASULGC principles.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, in consultation with BIFAD, should require universities to include in their project proposals a statement, and supporting documentation, regarding the extent of their compliance with the NASULGC Basic Principles for College and University Involvement in International Development Activities.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The AID Center for University Development focuses on all universities, not just title XII universities. Consequently, AID evaluation efforts are now more broadly focused than title XII.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, in consultation with BIFAD, should make an evaluation of title XII projects, to include university performance, and distribute the results to AID missions and title XII universities.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AID and BIFAD issued an annual report in April 1989 capsulizing the prior 3-years activities. Its 1990 report should be issued in June 1990. The report meets the reporting requirements.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, in consultation with BIFAD, should reinstitute the mandated annual report to Congress on title XII, and ensure that it includes accurate and complete data, including anticipated title XII activities planned over the next 5 fiscal years.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  5. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Center for University Development focuses on all universities, not just title XII universities. Efforts that focus only on title XII are no longer appropriate.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, in consultation with BIFAD, should develop a means of accurately tracking and reporting title XII project activities.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  6. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In accordance with 40 U.S.C. 474(2), the Administrator, AID, determined that Title XII source selection procedures are necessary so as not to impair AID authority to administer foreign assistance.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, should issue guidance eliminating the separate procurement set-aside for title XII universities.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

 

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