Coordinating U.S. Development Assistance:

Problems Facing the International Development Cooperation Agency

ID-80-13: Published: Feb 1, 1980. Publicly Released: Feb 1, 1980.

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Substantial changes have occurred in the activities and programs affecting development in Third World countries in the last decade. These changes and the increasing role of non-aid agencies in development activities have caused authority for development programs to be widely dispersed among Federal Government agencies and committees. The International Development Cooperation Agency (IDCA) was created to improve coordination of these activities.

The three major changes which particularly affect the coordination problem are: (1) a shift from U.S. bilateral aid toward more emphasis on multilateral assistance; (2) a shift from program assistance and integrated country planning toward more emphasis on project assistance; and (3) the increasing importance of non-aid activities such as trade and foreign investment. The creation of IDCA represents progress toward establishing an independent coordinator, but it is uncertain whether the agency can establish a separate, independent identity. The agency's director has the lead responsibility for the U.S. development policy in specified international organizations, and for development policy toward multilateral banks. However, its creation does not significantly affect the Government's ability to coordinate policies and programs on a country rather than a project basis nor does it affect much the development coordinator's ability to influence non-aid issues. While the new organizational arrangements could effect some improvement in the authority of the development coordinator, his power will remain limited. Therefore, the quality of the performance of the Agency Director and his staff will be critical to the success of the organization.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The IDCA should: place primary reliance on an activist, informed staff to perform the coordination task, rather than relying mainly on a committee structure; seek the allocation of additional staff resources, increase its capability to do macroeconomic analysis, and nominate the alternate U.S. Executive Directors of the multilateral banks; establish contingency funds to improve its responsiveness to unforeseen requirements and opportunities; use annual development strategy statements to develop explicit U.S. views on the division of labor among those agencies managing bilateral and multilateral development programs; strengthen its claims to authority as the development coordinator by building a record of excellence in a few priority areas. The Director, IDCA, in cooperation with the Department of State, should serve as conference coordinator for major conferences dealing with North-South issues and should play a major role in the delegations to such conferences. It is further recommended as a minimal change with respect to Title III of P.L. 83-480, the Agency and/or the Agency for International Development should have final responsibility - not subject to veto by other agencies: (1) to review and approve Title III program proposals; and (2) to monitor program implementation.

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