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International Technical Assistance | NRCS

 

Introduction

The Natural Resources Conservation Service receives numerous requests to provide technical assistance in foreign countries. NRCS helps improve the management and conservation of natural resources globally by providing long- and short-term technical assistance and leadership with our foreign partners.

Due to lack of statutory authority to fund technical assistance outside the U.S., NRCS participates in these activities on a reimbursable basis, through USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).  Under provisions of the Economy Act, NRCS may provide technical expertise to another federal agency on a reimbursable basis. Funding agencies include the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the World Bank, and host countries.

Long-Term Technical Assistance

Over the years, 198 employees have provided long-term (resident) international technical services for natural resource conservation projects in 16 countries on every continent including Antarctica. They resided in country with their families for a minimum of one year, usually two or more.

Short-Term Technical Assistance

NRCS has provided short-term technical assistance and leadership, usually two weeks in duration, in developing programs and projects in over 140 other countries to conserve and improve natural resources. During FY 2009, NRCS specialists participated in six assignments in four foreign countries to develop and implement policies and programs for the conservation of natural resources.

Procedures

  • Scope of Work is developed by the requesting agency.
  • Requests for nominations originate outside NRCS and are forwarded to IPD directly or through FAS. IPD works with FAS to evaluate the scope of work to determine whether NRCS has and can make available the required expertise.
  • Evaluation and Selection Specific detailed selection criteria are generated from the scope of work and generally include the following:
    • Technical expertise
    • Availability (duration of assignment)
    • International experience
    • Language capability

NRCS consults with the funding agency in reviewing the scope of work for completeness and accuracy in describing the technical expertise required. Appropriate technical divisions in NHQ will be involved in this step of the process.

Through the networks within NRCS (such as technical divisions, program managers, and special emphasis program managers), a list of viable candidates will be developed. Candidates are evaluated against the established selection criteria.

After the top candidate is identified, but before contact with the staff member, a contact will be made with the supervisor and state conservationist to ensure they are aware of the request and concur in the candidate’s participation.

Processing

Once the selection process is complete, an International Travel Request Form (ITRF) is completed by the traveler and forwarded to IPD, either electronically or by fax. The ITRF ensures that all necessary information is provided, as follows:

  • Name, organizational unit, discipline
  • Purpose of travel
  • Benefits to NRCS (Avoid generalities and include assessment of nominee’s effectiveness in carrying out the assignment and transferring technology upon return).
  • Passport information
  • Approvals of supervisor and state conservationist

The ITRF is shared with FAS for purposes of arranging travel and securing country clearance.

Responsibilities

The employee, NRCS, and FAS each have specific responsibilities in the process of implementing a technical assistance activity. NRCS will provide overall guidance in this process.

Employee Responsibilities:

  • Complete ITRF and secure approvals of supervisor and state conservationist.
  • Work with NRCS to secure official passport and visa.
  • Secure necessary immunizations.

NRCS Responsibilities:

  • Advise the traveler on immunizations and other travel preparations.
  • Secure official passport and visa.
  • Develop budget and submit to FAS for issuance of Form AD-52, an Interagency Reimbursable Agreement.

FAS Responsibilities:

  • Issue travel authorization and tickets.
  • Secure country clearance.
  • Issue Form AD-672 for reimbursement of costs.

Funding

NRCS will develop a budget to support the services provided and forward the budget to the funding agency.

Funding for the project is held by the funding agency and obligated by Form AD-672.

NRCS bills against the AD-672 when the activity is completed and actual costs are known.

 

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