Reviews of U.S. Developmental Assistance Programs in Individual Latin American Countries or Regions

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-06-14.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)



                Dear Mr.        Secretary:

                       During     four recent      reviews      involving       U.S. developmental
                                                                               -_.,__   I_ ..--._
                assistance      programs    in individual           Latin   American        countries       or
                regions,     the General      Accounting        Office     (GAO) noted that             certain
                U.S. program objectives,            goals,      and target&'          lacked        the speci-
                ficity    necessary     to permit       objective        measurement        and evaluation
                of program results        over a period           of time.       For this         reason,     we
                sought    to determine      whether      this condition          was common in lJ.S,
                assistance      programming      in other       Latin     American      countries.

                        We found,     in a review of selected            fiscal    year 1.972 program-
                ming documents        for developmental         programs      for six Latin    American
                countries,      that    in a majority       of cases program objectives          and
                goals were not stated            in objectively      measurable       terms and dir: not
                include    a time frame for accomplishment.                   Of a total    of some 259
                developmental        objectives     and goals reviewed,           about 13 percent
                were stated       in objectively      measurable       terms and 16 percent        had a
                specified     time frame for accomplishment.

                        We noted,        as discussed    in the AID Administrator's           communi-
                cation      to the Comptroller         General   on April    5, 1971, that      an
                integrated        project     planning   system for noncapital       assistance       was
                instituted        in fiscal      year 1968.     This system was designed,          among
                other     things,      to formulate     project    and inc?i\Tidual  activity      tarsets
                or accomplishments            to be achieved     over a specified     period     of time.

                       The basic purpose     of this    letter    is to express    our concern
                that a need also exists        for formulating      overall  developmental
                assistance     program objectives     and goals      in each country,     in  terms
                which can be objectively        measured     over a period   of time.       We rec-
                ognize    that on occasion     there may be an exceptional         circumstance

                l/      Our terms of reference      are as follows:      Objective     is used
                        to mean the intermediate       or final  program   purpose;      Goal is
                        used to mean an element      in a plan to accomplish        a stated
                        objective;    and Target  is used to mean an element         in a plan
                        to accomplish    a stated   goal.

                                             50 7-H ANNlVERSAWY            1921- 197%
where this may not be practicable.                 However,       as a general      rule
we believe     such specificity           is a prerequisite        not only for ef-
fective    administration        but also for a responsible              assessment      of
program    results.       Specificity       would still      have validity      even if
the need for the United             States   to chart     foreign     developmental
programs    and priorities          is reduced,     as proposed       by the President
on April    21, 1971.

       These     matters     are    discussed       in more     detail     below.


        The programming         process       for U.S. programs            in Latin      America
countries     is initiated          by a Country          Team analysis         of the country
situation     in relation         to stated         overall     U.S. objectives.             The
roles     to be played by the various                  components      of the U.S. presence
(such as Peace Corps,             United      States      Information        Service,      etc,)    in
contributing       to these objectives               are examined,         taking     into     account
the country's        self-help        programs       and other      anticipated         multilat-
eral    and private       inputs.        Finally,        goals are assigned           to each U,S.
agency.      The analysis,          statement        of program objectives,               and assign-
ment of goals are incorporated                    in the Country         Analysis       and Strategy
Paper (GASP) which is reviewed                    each spring       by an interdepartment::~l
committee      in Washington          chaired       by the Assistant          Secretary        of Stat,-.
The CASP serves as the principal                     tool    for the analysis           of U.S, in-
terests,     and for setting           forth      policy     and program        objectives        as weli
as the resource         levels      needed to achieve            those objectives,

        The overall     U,S. economic       assistance      program priorities         and
strategies       for achieving      program    aims in each country         are further
analyzed      and set forth       in the Country      Field    Submission      (CFS) sub-
mitted     to Washington      by the Country       Team each summer,           In this
document      progress    toward program       aims is evaluated         and approachl:s
are weighed        to overcome the problems          impeding     achievement.        out
of this      analysis,    specific     issues are identified          which assist        jn
developing       the operational       aims for the next three           to five    years
and provide        the basis for the President's            budget    recommendation
for the next fiscal          year.

        The GASP and the CFS constitute             the principal        program plan-
ning documents        for the U,S, foreign         assistance      program     in Latin
America.      Planning     for individual      technical      assistance       or capital
projects,     and P,L. 480 activities,           in support      of overall      program
aims set forth        in the GASP and the CFS documents,               is performed       at
a lower management         level.     This separate       programming       is, therefore,
not available       to the principal       program managers         at the time program

direction   and aims are determined.        Our review did not include
this subordinate    programming   because,    in this review,  we were
concerned  with management's    formulation     and approval  of overall
program direction     and aims.


        We selected     for review those L&in            American     countries     re-
ceiving    more than $10 million          in AID commitments.            According      to
the latest     AID congressional        presentation        these countries        were
Brazil,    Chile,    Colombia,     Dominican      Republic,     Ecuador,      Guatemala,
and Uruguay.        We had to exclude Brazil           from our review because
for fiscal      year 1972 a special         program analysis       was prepared         in
lieu of the GASP and this analysis               was not available          to us. We
found,    as shown below,       that of the total         of some 259 objectives
and goals reviewed         about 13 percent        were stated      in terms objec-
tively    measurable      and 16 percent       had a specified        time frame for

                           Stated     in              Stated                     Both
                          objectively            with specific            characteristics
Hierarchy               measurable      terms      time frame                  present
 of aims       Total
               --       Number       Percent    Number Percent            Number      Percez

Objectives        18        2           11.1           3           16.7       2         11,l
Goals            241
                 m-        32           13.3         38            15.8     19           7.9

                                        13.1        - 41           15.8    =I21          8.1

The Appendix      shows our review        results          by country.,

        Examples of developmental           aims we found to be stated  in
objectively     measurable  terms        and with a specified  time frame

       1.    The goal of the population       program will be a
             reduction    in the birth  rate from 40-J&5/1000
             to 25-30/1000     over ten years.

      2.     The objective      is the achievement     by the host
             country    of a growth rate (in Gross National
             Product)    of at least 5 percent       annually    for
             the fiscal     year 1972-74 period      by increasing
             the investment       rate to 15 percent     or more of
             the Gross National        Product.

        3.   The goal is to increase          the membership   of the
             AID/American     Institute     for Free Labor Devel-
             opment supported        democratic   host country    Con-
             federation     of Workers from the present        35,000-
             40,000 workers      to 75,000 workers     by the end of
             fiscal     year 1972.

        Examples    of those     developmental        aims     not    stated      in measurable
terms    follow:

        1.   The goal is to promote popular                participation
             through  assistance       in creating         or strengthen-
             ing appropriate     institutions.

        2.   The U.S. assistance          program seeks to achieve
             a more rapid and more broadly               based overall
             economic development,           including      greater     em-
             ployment,     through     continued       improvement      in
             the development         and implementation         of general
             economic and financial            policies     and institu-
             tional    arrangements;        especially,       in fiscal
             programming,       trade,    exchange rate,        credit     and

        3.   In coordination         with third     countries    and inter-
             national      banks, the U.S. goal is to promote
             growth in productivity           and expansion      of the
             industrial       sector    by providing      credit   and tech-
             nical     assistance     to smaller     business    enterprises
             otherwise       denied access to these services.

        4.   The goal     is more equitable           income      distribution.

        5.   The goal     is to achieve         improved       balance      of

        6.   The goal of the        program      is   increased        private


       The Congress has demonstrated        a continuing     interest    in the
problem of evaluating       program performance      where foreign    aid funds
are involved.       One of the primary    findings     of the Foreign      Opera-
tions   and Government    Information    Subcommittee      in its report     (House
Report 1849),     issued August 5, 1968, related         to the need for specific

priorities    and goals  on the             part of hID/'Wa,shingtori            FTC: its missions.
The following    is taken frorr,            the section   cor.cerned           wit.;, pricrities:

                "Under   the Rules of the House of Representatives
                the Committee      on Government      Operations    has the
                duty of 'studying       the operation      of government    ac-
                tivities    at all   levels  with     a view to determining
                its economy and efficiency.'

                "Thus,   there was a prime need for the committee
                to examine    the program   priorities         and goals of
                each U.S. AID mission     visited       to determine     wkf.ther
                funds were being expended        effectivc1.y.

                "But when top mission          officials     were asked to set
                forth      their  program   objectives     in the context     of
                priorities       and goals,    the committee     w-is shocked
                time and again by their            evasive   and inconclusive

        Section     621A of the Foreign        Assistance       Act of 1961, as amended,
 (22 U.S.C.      2381a)    calls    for the strengthenin:~         of AID'5 management
practices       by the use of advanced         management       techniques        ant the es-
tablishment       of a modern programming,           planning,       and budc-e:Lrtg
                                                                                3        sys?.em
with built-in        implementation       and evaluation        capabilities.          In suI..h
a system evaluating           program   performance       requires      that    program   objec-
tives     and goals be formulated           in terms objectively            measurable    o-,er


         In the past,          guidelines        for the prelaratioc          of the CASP and
the CFS have stated               that    objectives       and goals,      to the extent          prac-
ticable,        should be measurable               in terms 0; achievements             desired      and
have a time frame for completion                      of the planned         achievements,           In
fiscal       year 1968, U.S, overseas                missions    were rec;uested          to install
an integrated          planning,        programming,         an? evaluaticn        system      for each
noncapital        assistance         project       or activity.       One of the benefits
cited,       as resulting         from implementation           of the new evaluation              system,
was a sharper          definition         of goals and targets           included       in the lower-
level      program     documentation          for each project.            Foreover,        AID's    new
Evaluation        Handbook        published        in October     ?97@ sc<atcs:

                "In many instances,     evaluations        are drawing
                attention   to the fact that       Drcject     pronosals
                are too often    filled  with high snurlding          go:lis

              which have not been reduced to observable                    tar-
              gets.     How does one evaluate           a project     whose
              purpose is to 'help          improve the quality'          of
              some kind of public          services     or 'to increase
              the effectiveness          of an institution?'          Frequent-
              ly, the findings         of an evaluation        result    in a
              more clearly       defined    purpose which provides            a
              better    basis for measuring         progress      and planning
              necessary     actions."

         We believe  that this  implicit concept has even greater     appli-
cability     to, and impact on, the principal    developmental  planning
documents--the      GASP and the CFS.


        We believe,       notwithstanding         a number of visible            and commend-
able improvements           in the noncapital         project      formulation       process,
that a significant            opportunity      exists    for improving         the planning
and evaluation        process as it relates            to overall        program objectives
and goals in Latin America.                 We believe       this opportunity          should be
taken by formulating             planned program results             in terms objectively
measurable      over a period of time.               We recognize        that on oc:Y::sinn
there may be an exceptional               circumstance        where this may not be
practicable.         However,       such specificity,          in our judgment,          is a
prerequisite       not only for effective             administration          but also for n
responsible       objective       assessment      of results.          Moreover,     an i-m--
provement     of this nature           is of special       long-range        importance,       in
our opinion,       because of the need to show the Congress and thP
American     public,      the demonstrable          and objectively         measurable       rc'-*
sults    of U.S, developmental            assistance       programs,


      Accordingly,  we recommend that you take the measures neces-,
sary to assure that in the programming       process    objectives     and
goals (both intermediate      and final)  are formulated      and stated   in
terms objectively    measurable   over time.

       Section    236 of the Legislative             Reorganization      .4ct of 1970
requires     that written     statements     of      the action     taken with respect
to our recommendation         be sent to the           House and Senate Committees
on Government      Operations      and to the        CommitteeL: on Anpropriations,
We would appreciate        receiving     copies        of the sratemen-ts     furnished
to such committees.

      Copies of this letter are being sent today to the above
committees; the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations and Covern-
ment Information   of the House Committee on Government Operations;
the Administrator,   Agency for International Development; and the
Director,  Office of Management and Budget.

     We will be glad to discuss the contents of this letter with
you or your representatives  should you so desire.  We wish to
acknowledge the cooperation extended to our representatives   during
the review.

                                             Sincerely   yours,

                                           u Director

The Honorable
The Secretary of State