Use of a Capital Saving Technology Approach in AID's Development Assistance Program

NSIAD-84-142: Published: Jul 26, 1984. Publicly Released: Jul 26, 1984.

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GAO reviewed the Agency for International Development's (AID) capital saving technology (CST) activities.

Recognizing a need for more labor intensive, capital saving tools and methods in developing countries, Congress enacted legislation which authorized AID to support greater CST efforts. AID created Appropriate Technology International (ATI) as a private, nonprofit organization to carry out CST activities. AID also uses its automated Development Information System and the National Technical Information Service as tools to promote CST information. CST projects are found in all development sectors and, in fiscal year 1984, CST projects accounted for about $158 million of $1.3 billion in development assistance obligations. GAO found that staff may be unfamiliar with CST efforts, partly because AID has not reinforced its endorsement of the CST concept. Although an AID key initiative is technology transfer, staff are unfamiliar with the role that CST is to play in that initiative.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: AID has indicated that it does not plan to implement this recommendation and has not provided any specific reasons for not doing so.

    Recommendation: To better communicate and reinforce agency emphasis on the capital saving technology approach to development, the Administrator of AID should: (1) reemphasize the role of CST, perhaps through more explicit inclusion in the technology transfer and private enterprise policy papers; (2) define the role and priority of capital saving activities in annual program guidance to missions and through existing training programs, especially relative to new initiatives and priorities that arise; (3) coordinate CST activities and more explicitly consider potential CST applications in the project design process; and (4) complement AID efforts to make greater use of private volunteer organizations and U.S. universities by encouraging missions to give more consideration to using these organizations as vehicles for implementing CST activities.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation requires agency action on an ongoing basis. AID is currently complying with all required items.

    Recommendation: To ensure that AID implements changes to improve these projects, the Administrator of AID should: (1) follow through on proposals to actively market and improve access to Development Information System services; (2) promote increased ATI cooperation with AID by ensuring that the new AID/ATI agreement is effectively implemented; and (3) closely monitor AID agreements with the National Technical Information Service to ensure that distributors are actively marketing CST information.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development


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