Donor Approaches to Development Assistance

Implications for the United States Gao ID: ID-83-23 May 4, 1983

GAO compared the bilateral development assistance approach of the United States toward developing countries with those of five major Western nations, focusing on the practices and procedures of the Agency for International Development (AID) in selected African recipient countries.

Although the United States remains a leading donor, its share of the total amount of development aid compared to all donor countries has steadily declined, from about 60 percent in the 1960's to about 16 percent currently. In comparison with similar programs as practiced by Canada, France, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and West Germany, GAO found that AID: (1) has the most extensive administrative program; (2) is more accountable to legislative controls; (3) is more sensitive to domestic public opinion; and (4) focuses more on rural areas. GAO believes that the successful approaches practiced by other countries could have positive effects on the U.S. aid policy by: (1) reducing AID size and geographic dispersion; (2) selecting a targeted number of countries for AID programs; (3) reducing the number of AID offices overseas; (4) lessening overseas offices' logistical and administrative support roles; (5) placing key technical advisors in recipient country government agencies; (6) increasing cooperation with technical assistance personnel from other donors in those countries where they have extensive programs; and (7) increasing the flexibility of AID to respond to program and funding requirements of Congress.

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