3. Memorandum From the Science Adviser to the President (DuBridge) to the Under Secretary of State (Richardson)1


  • NSSM 4: AID Policy

I have reviewed the draft response to NSSM 4 which you will consider at your meeting Friday afternoon at 2:30.2 The chapter on Technical Assistance seems to me to be seriously deficient.

This is a matter on which the World Food Panel of the President’s Science Advisory Committee placed particular emphasis.3 Another panel of the President’s Science Advisory Committee devoted eighteen months to a review of technical assistance. Recently other reports from committees such as that chaired by Dr. Hannah have been issued on this subject. All of these reports agree that

Technical assistance is crucially important for dealing effectively with the pressing problems of population, food production, education and industrial development, and indeed sustained progress cannot be made in these areas without technical assistance.
The most effective and enduring contribution to human resource development is through the building of indigenous institutional capacity in research and higher education which will enable a nation to help [Page 6] itself by educating its own people to enter and sustain themselves in the modern world.
The United States has a great resource in this field due to the experience we have gained and the institutions we have built at great cost within this country, particularly in the past decade. However, it is an error to assume that these talents are available on the shelf to be requisitioned on the basis of widely scattered and ill-formulated requests from all parts of the globe. Up to the present, AID has failed to find a way effectively to draw on this resource.
Technical assistance under present arrangements in AID is inadequate and leaves a gap. This gap must be filled if capital assistance is not to be proved largely ineffectual.

The new Administration has the freedom and the opportunity at this time to advocate a new and reinvigorated technical assistance program, with a new institutional approach and with new funds which will find the means effectively to draw upon the resources of our scientific, technical and professional people and institutions. The reorganization of AID under the Kennedy Administration broke up the technical assist-ance central staffs that existed at that time, and distributed the fragments among the regional bureaus. The consequence as stated in the PSAC World Food report (p. 5) was:

“The original emphasis upon technical assistance has been so diluted that it is almost correct to say that this form of aid, indispensable to the accomplishment of increases in food production, now receives little more than lip service”.

The weakness of the draft response to NSSM 4 is that while it gives a tepid endorsement of technical assistance, it states that there is no justification available which would warrant an expansion of this form of aid. Conceding that there may be grounds for an institutional change which would improve the quality and style of technical assistance, the draft advances two options: on the one hand, a nongovernmental foundation to administer technical assistance, which the paper admits is unrealistic if appropriations in the order of $400 million annually are to be obtained from the Congress, and on the other, reshuffling of responsibilities within AID, retaining the present dominance of the regional bureaus with technical assistance still subordinated to capital development. Neither option offers the new Administration an attractive alternative.

It is understandable that the present quality of AID technical assistance programs in general does not inspire confidence that additional funds devoted to this purpose would be effectively used. Yet, I cannot agree that new funds are not justified to carry out the programs advocated as essential by the PSAC reports and by Dr. Hannah’s group and [Page 7] by others in the professional, scientific and technical community. There would of course, be no justification for increasing technical assistance funds unless necessary institutional changes in the administration of technical assistance are made.

The new Administration is not burdened with the errors of the past. It can boldly admit that technical assistance as presently administered needs to be revitalized and given professional direction, taking into account the factors so ably identified in Dr. Hannah’s report. In my view, $100 million in addition to the amount proposed for technical assistance in the FY 1970 budget would provide a significant start toward closing the gap in the present technical assistance program and would merit priority over capital assistance.

In order to effectively bring about a new leadership and direction in technical assistance, two options need to be included in the paper, neither of which is present in the existing draft:

Option 1: A new Technical Assistance Agency separate from AID but within the Government.

Comment: This is the proposal advanced in the report of Dr. Hannah.

Option 2: A separate and equal Technical Assistance Department within AID.4

Comment: Unlike Option 3 in the draft memorandum, this proposal contemplates that the new Technical Assistance Bureau will have full responsibility for justifying its budget to the Congress and for the administration of its funds.5 The present regional bureaus would continue with responsibility for capital assistance in its different forms.

Although this would lack certain of the advantages of option 1 above, it would make coordination between capital assistance and technical assistance easier, being within the same agency, at the same time making possible more effective coordination with technical assistance programs of the multilateral agencies than has been done in the past.

I believe strongly that Technical Assistance offers the new Administration the best opportunity to make a significant advance in [Page 8] our foreign assistance program within existing budgetary constraints. I believe we would be ill-advised not to take this opportunity to repair a critical weakness in our foreign assistance program.

I would appreciate it if you would allow Mr. Daniel Margolies of my Office to attend your meeting Friday to enlarge on these remarks as may be desired and to assist in any drafting requirements that may arise.6

Lee A. DuBridge
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 80 D 212, NSSM 4. No classification marking.
  2. March 14. Regarding NSSM 4, see Document 1. According to a March 13 memorandum from Assistant Secretary Greenwald to Under Secretary Richardson, the March 14 meeting would be the only meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group prior to the March 21 NSC Review Group meeting on the NSSM 4 response and the March 26 NSC meeting on foreign assistance. (National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 80 D 212, NSSM 4)
  3. See Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. IX, Document 139, footnote 4.
  4. In a March 18 memorandum to Under Secretary Richardson, Director of the Office of Scientific Affairs Herman Pollack recommended creation of a “second deputy to the Director of AID for Technical Assistance with authority extending throughout the entire AID organization.” (National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 80 D 212, NSSM 4)
  5. On March 14 Edward Wenk, Jr., Executive Secretary of the National Council on Marine Resources and Engineering Development, sent a memorandum to Richardson asking to be associated with DuBridge’s views. Wenk noted, however, that “Option 3 which retains technical assistance subordinate to capital development, would do little to foster more meaningful technical assistance programs in the marine field.” (Ibid.)
  6. A handwritten notation in the margin reads: “Invited.”