Records in S-1906 document the coordination of projects and partnerships between the Office of Technical Co-operation (OTC) of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and DESA substantive offices, United Nations Member States, and United Nations agencies, such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The substantive offices include: the Statistical Office, the Centre for Natural Resources, Energy and Transport (CNRET), the Division of Public Administration and Finance (DPAF), the Population Division, the Centre for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs (CSDHA), and the Centre for Development Planning, Projections and Policies (CDPPP). The bulk of the records date from 1973 to 1978 and detail planning and implementation of technical assistance projects in developing countries and regions. The function of S-1906 is derived from DESA.DEV.018 of the retention schedule of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), dated 21 January 2013.
The OTC, established in 1964, was headquartered in New York and had three regional branches: the Africa branch; the Asia and Middle East branch; and the Europe, Latin America and Interregional Projects branch. Each branch was headed by a deputy director and two section chiefs who oversaw projects focused on human resources, development planning, physical resources, transportation, and housing.
The records largely consist of country files with draft project documents and related correspondence, Country Programmes jointly prepared by the OTC and the UNDP, regional and interregional technical assistance programme materials, and UN technical expert and Operational, Executive and Administrative Services (OPAS) expert files.
Arranged alphabetically, the country files contain information about requests for technical assistance received from developing countries in the regions of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Latin America. In addition, there are project proposals, draft project documents, proposals and budgets prepared by country governments, and correspondence and memoranda exchanged between the OTC and the substantive offices of DESA. Project documents were official proposals that included project objectives, work plans, budgets, and other information relating to the implementation of project. UN representatives in developing countries submitted all requests and project documents, prepared in consultation with government ministries, to the OTC for review. The files also contain job descriptions for technical experts that detail project goals, details of travel logistics, and project reports compiled by experts. The OTC also acted as an executing agency for short-term projects, recruiting technical experts from the substantive offices of DESA to undertake advisory missions.
The OTC carried out a variety of projects in the fields of public administration and economic and social development. Technical experts were tasked with carrying out studies and surveys and compiling recommendations in reports distributed to the OTC, the substantive offices, and the country governments. Projects carried out by experts included the development of an unemployment insurance programme in Iran, studying the tourism industry in the Maldives, and surveys of mineral resources in Somalia. Projects were also executed in the fields of natural resources, low-income housing, family planning and population, and railroad and transportation infrastructures.
UNDP Country Programmes
S-1906 includes draft and final versions of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Country Programmes. The records consist of final UNDP Country Programmes as well as revisions and comments from OTC personnel, Country Background Papers and country programme management plans. The Country Programmes provide background on the economic and social priorities for the particular developing country, as well as a list of proposed and in-progress projects. The UNDP served as the funding source for a majority of the technical assistance projects executed by the OTC. The OTC did not have its own representatives in the field and relied on correspondence with the UNDP Resident Representatives for updates on project execution.
The UNDP Country Programmes were distributed for review to all UN agencies serving as an Executing Agency on a technical project in the country and then revised or amended by the UNDP Resident Representative based on feedback before final approval by the UNDP Governing Council. The UNDP Resident Representatives also produced annual reports with project updates, and annual and biannual Country Management Plans that included financial allocations and timelines for projects listed in the Country Programme.
Regional and Interregional Technical Assistance Programmes
Utilizing funds from the United Nations Regular Programme for technical assistance, the OTC coordinated with country governments and regional organizations to execute projects, regional and interregional seminars and training programmes in the fields of population and family planning, natural resources, public administration, housing, and social development. The files document the collaboration with the substantive offices of DESA as well as the regional economic commissions of the UN Economic and Social Council, including the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), to develop projects and seminars. The records include correspondence and memoranda, project documents, seminar proposals and requests, budgets, and reports. The development of a Trans-Asian railway, a study of geothermal resources in Central America, and the creation of a transnational regional aquifer in North Africa are examples of some of the documented regional projects.
Operational, Executive and Administrative Services (OPAS) Expert Files
This series also documents the activities of OPAS experts. OPAS experts were recruited by the Technical Assistance Services (TARS) of the Office of Personnel Services (OPS) but were not considered UN employees. Fully accountable to the government of the developing country to which they were assigned, OPAS experts temporarily held existing civil service positions while their local counterparts received the appropriate education and training in order to assume the post. OPAS experts’ contracts were renewed annually, and, at the request of the government, they could be promoted to UN technical advisers. OPAS experts were assigned to posts in the fields of: public administration and finance, natural resources, social welfare, statistics, and public works.
The files also include records of Associate Experts, characterized as recent graduates and new professionals; and UN Volunteers (UNV), who were assigned to technical assistance projects. The records include reports, correspondence and memoranda, project revision forms, and job descriptions.
A small group of records pertaining to Technical Co-operation Among Developing Countries (TCDC) are also included in S-1906. The files contain correspondence and memoranda related to the development of the TCDC process of technical assistance. TCDC promoted cooperation between developing countries to increase self-reliance and improve the effectiveness of development projects. The records contain correspondence and memoranda and planning documents for the UN Conference on TCDC held in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1978.