Ensuring the effective and coordinated use of US foreign assistance

Ensuring the effective and coordinated use of US foreign assistance has been a perennial challenge since its first application in 1812 to benefit victims of a massive earthquake in Venezuela. Great strides towards this goal have been made in recent years, but there is still plenty of room for dramatic improvement, with the creative adaptation of various emerging technologies. The best current example of this is the application of Bitcoin’s underlying “distributed ledger (a.k.a.: Blockchain)” technology. While this technology was originally developed to support digital crypto-currency, several private firms are proving that this is also an ideal technology for the secure collection and maintenance of records for various information and knowledge management applications, such as complex and dense medical records that need to be secure, frequently updated, and still able to provide target data immediately on demand, all while reducing the human labor required to do so, and thereby reducing the rates of human error in data management.

It is estimated that this project will require the intellectual labor of people with computer science knowledge, and ideally these people with periodically collaborate with people who have “human centered design” knowledge (the two most reputable schools for this being Rhode Island School of Design, which who State has a pre-existing relationship, and the Stanford “d.school”). With these resources, this project will be able to design a management architecture, both for human users/consumers/managers, as well as for the storage and retrieval of data, such that the structure of the system itself will bring efficiencies to the process of applying data to decisions, and in the process create an enabling environment for being able to draw causal linkages between specific US foreign assistance investments, and long term development outcomes – which is a critical missing link in making resource allocations that will (or will not) best support US foreign policy, and by doing so, possibly assist in shaping the policy formulation process itself towards more effective impacts and better outcomes. This can be done non-SBU.


Lead Researcher: Neha Kumar, INTA