Federal Research

Information on International Science and Technology Agreements Gao ID: RCED-99-108 April 22, 1999

International collaboration in science and technology through joint research and development projects offers opportunities for the United States and foreign governments to leverage research dollars and boost productivity. The experience and information gained from these projects could lead to discoveries and inventions that could spur economic growth in both the United States and abroad. This report provides information on (1) the number of international science and technology agreements active during fiscal year 1997 and (2) the number of these agreements that resulted in research projects or other activities. GAO reviews international science and technology agreements involving the State Department, the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, NASA, the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

GAO noted that: (1) during FY 1997, the 7 agencies GAO reviewed participated in 575 international science and technology agreements with 57 countries, 8 international organizations, and 10 groups of organizations or countries; (2) 54 of the agreements were between the U.S. government and the government of another country; (3) the remaining 521 agreements were signed by representatives of an U.S. agency and representatives of an agency of a foreign government(s) or international organization; (4) more than 90 percent of the international science and technology agreements resulted in research projects or other research-related activities, such as consultations among scientists and exchanges of data and personnel; (5) the percentage of agency agreements that resulted in projects and other activities ranged, by agency, from 61 percent at the National Institutes of Health to 98 percent at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; and (6) agencies' officials told GAO that changes in either country's science priorities or inability to fund projects after negotiating an agreement are frequently the reasons some agreements do not result in research projects.

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