The records in S-1905 document regional project coordination and partnerships between the Technical Assistance Administration and United Nations Member States. The function of S-1905 is derived from DESA.DEV.018 of the retention schedule of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), dated 21 January 2013.
Included in S-1905 are records of the Office for Latin America (OLA) from the Programme Division of the Technical Assistance Administration (TAA). The OLA was located in Santiago, Chile and coordinated its activities with a branch office in Mexico City that was established in 1956. The TAA’s Programme Division was headquartered in New York.
S-1905 records date primarily from 1956 through 1959 when Mr. Bruno Leuschner served as the Director of the OLA. The Mexico City Office was staffed by Carlos S. Vegega during this period and coordinated technical assistance activities in countries throughout Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.
The OLA coordinated projects through the employment of technical experts and consultants. The governments of Latin American countries made requests in consultation with their government ministries to the TAA. After a detailed process to gain approval, requests were funded under the Regular or Expanded Programme and a technical expert was recruited and deployed.
Experts undertook a wide variety of projects in social welfare, economic development and public administration and were tasked with conducting studies, making recommendations, and implementing specific advancements and reforms within the parameters of the project. For example, experts carried out community development among Andean Indians in South America; studies of refrigeration for slaughtered cattle and meat products; economic surveys; studies and recommendations for railroad construction and traction; the development of the pharmaceutical industry, including penicillin manufacturing in Chile, the management of natural resources; deep sea diving and shipwreck salvage operations; low-cost housing; rehabilitation of the physically handicapped; and training in hotel management.
Experts also advised Latin American countries on improving the efficiency of government functions in the fields of public administration, budget and tax administration, and fiscal policy. Some projects focused on updating and negotiating outdated government laws and industry regulations.
The records consist of: job descriptions outlining the project aims and the responsibilities of the technical expert; terms of reference letters sent to experts orienting them to the project once they arrived in the country; telegrams sent and received by the Office for Latin America; and draft legal agreements between the United Nations and governments of Latin American countries soliciting experts for country-specific studies and projects. Memoranda and correspondence document: the recruitment of technical experts; relations between experts and the government, industry professionals and professional organizations; comments on the expert’s progress and final reports; and the funding of projects.
The files also contain progress reports authored by technical experts and submitted to the Office for Latin America. The progress reports describe the objectives of the project; the political, social, economic climate of the country; activities undertaken during the phases of the project. They also cover experts’ tours of remote areas, observations of local populations, and the state of local manufacturing facilities, social service facilities, chemical plants, and mines. In addition, the progress reports served as an opportunity for experts to ask for advice on how to handle an unexpected situation, which would be received by a TAA official and passed along the appropriate channels.
The series also includes technical experts’ final reports of projects, as well as preliminary and draft reports. The final reports include discussions of: the state of a particular industry or professional field; the condition of machinery being used; the quality and type of raw materials; and deficiencies in administration. In addition, final reports provide recommendations such as the adoption or improvement of government laws and regulations, and improvements towards efficiency and productivity for industrial development. Final reports contain tables, graphs, statistics and other supporting data and, depending on the technical assistance offered, may include annexes and appendices of large-scale mechanical, engineering, and architectural designs. Maps and sketches of geographical areas under study are also included as annexes.
At the conclusion of a project, the final reports were required to be approved by the concerned substantive departments. For example, the final report on Chemical Industries in Peru, “Aspects of the Development of the Heavy Chemical Industry in Peru,” would need to be approved by the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA) and the Bureau of Economic Affairs, Headquarters before it was produced and formally submitted to the Government.
Upon approval final reports were forwarded to United Nations headquarters and presented to the government. Sometimes reports were rejected by the TAA because they did not fall under the experts’ terms of reference in order to be accepted as a final report. Reasons for rejection include: inaccuracies; subjective recommendations; or statements that run against the U.N. policy or would be objectionable to the government.
S-1905 also contains records of the Office for Latin America’s Comprehensive Programme documenting coordination and management of technical experts’ active or proposed projects for a particular country or region in Latin America. The records primarily consist of project submission forms, correspondence, and job descriptions. These records include correspondence between Mr. Bruno Leuschner, Director of the Office for Latin America, and Mr. Carlos S. Vegega of the Mexico City Office; experts in the field; Resident Representatives; and representatives of governments throughout Latin America.
Correspondence also covers the recruitment of technical experts and the extension of their contracts; the development of project objectives; and the financing of projects. The files also include country requests for technical assistance and annual country-specific evaluations of technical assistance programmes.