132. Memorandum From the President’s Science Adviser (DuBridge) to President Nixon 1


  • The Peterson Report

As you know I have long been interested in our technical assistance programs overseas. I strongly supported the recent establishment of a separate Technical Assistance Bureau within AID.2

I have examined with keen interest the report of Mr. Peterson’s Task Force on International Development. I found it an illuminating and constructive document for which the authors deserve great praise.

[Page 331]

The analysis of technical assistance is of particular value. As the report points out, the United States is no longer the principal source of foreign assistance and other developed countries can be expected to continue to increase their efforts in the future. As our share of capital assistance declines, it is all the more important that the quality of our technical assistance measures up to our position of world leadership in the areas of science, technology and research.

The past and present mechanisms in AID have not produced the desired result. We have not been able to tap the vast resources of highly trained scientists available in this country for foreign assistance. A move to place technical assistance in an institution where it can receive the full-time, top-level professional and managerial attention it requires is long overdue. Such was the conclusion of an extensive study made by the President’s Science Advisory Committee in 1968.

The proposed U.S. International Development Institute is well-conceived and should be established. It is timely in view of the pressing need to raise the technical capabilities of the developing countries to cope with the problems arising from population pressures and the resulting strains on the world food supply and the environment.

I fully support the contention that “the United States should seek to operate these programs more as a private foundation would.” I concur that the International Development Institute should base its programs on agreements with participating countries on specific goals, cost-sharing arrangements and on plans for the country to eventually take over total program responsibilities. To accomplish these objectives, the Institute should be a professionally competent management organization that develops agreements, and arranges for the initiation and performance of broad assistance programs by industry, universities or appropriate Federal agencies. This arrangement is in contrast to the project-oriented system that characterizes many of our technical assistance efforts currently.

Another recommendation of the Peterson Report calls for changing the current practice of terminating technical assistance to a country whenever concessional development loans end. This was agreed in principle at the National Security Council meeting on foreign assistance a year ago.3 Dr. Hannah has developed an interim program within AID for dealing with this problem within existing resources. The new Institute proposed by Mr. Peterson would provide a long-term solution. In the meantime, it would be desirable to make United States technical competence more readily available on a reimbursable basis to the developing countries that can afford to pay. There appear to be many countries [Page 332] where such possibilities exist and where the results can profoundly influence national development. I have discussed this with Secretary Rogers and recommendations for a practical program to this end will be ready soon for your consideration.

In an even broader context, the Institute (I prefer a broader name such as the United States Institute for International Cooperation and Development) could also become the principal focus for other programs currently outside the economic aid sphere such as exchange activities sponsored or supported by the Government. The Department of State, as well as other agencies, has had increasing difficulty in securing funds from the Congress for these purposes, and the resulting decrease in our international exchanges is, I believe, not in the best interest of this country.

The movement of professors, researchers, teachers, students and important leaders in any field between the United States and other countries is all part of a single process of constructive United States interaction with changing societies abroad, regardless of the precise stage of development of those societies. It is as valid for our relations with Germany and Japan as for West Africa.

The key to more effective technical assistance and more effective exchanges is better management. The Institute offers promise, if properly established and staffed, of providing that broad management capability.

You have frequently spoken to me of your desire to further cooperative relationships in science and technology with other countries. This Institute could fill the institutional gap in the Government for managing these relationships. An important aspect will be the ability to draw on competence in the private sector—universities, industries and professional societies. The proposed institutional form is appropriate to this task.

As you said in your February 18 statement on foreign policy,4 we need “new forms of international cooperation.” The Institute proposed by the Peterson Report, particularly in the broadened context, responds to your challenge in a forthright, imaginative and exciting manner.

Lee A. DuBridge
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Agency Files, Box 193, AID Task Forces on AID. No classification marking. According to a note by Kissinger on an attached April 1 memorandum from Bergsten to Kissinger, this memorandum did not go forward to the President.
  2. On January 8 AID Administrator Hannah sent Secretary Rogers a note informing him the Technical Assistance Bureau had been established on September 22, 1969. He attached a report summarizing its first 3 months of operation. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, AID (US) 8)
  3. Reference is to the March 26, 1969, NSC meeting; see Document 5.
  4. See footnote 5, Document 23.