The final reports or other documents were written by the Project Directors or independent evaluation teams in most of the countries where I played a significant role in designing proposals, consulting and helping to implement projects for the USDOL, ILO, World Bank, Asian Development Bank or other agencies. Most of those documents are now available on the Internet, including links to websites where those documents may be housed or accessed. The link to the USAID website also contains a summary and information about the work carried out under the direction of U.S. government agencies in Central and Eastern Europe in the 1990s with funds provided through the Support for East European Democracy (SEED) Act.
My memoir, “Adventures of a Million Miler,” (AOAMM) provides my perspective on the challenges and opportunities while directly involved in the design and implementation of those projects. I hope my experiences can help interested readers better understand the nature and complexity of the projects I worked on in the following countries:
In 1995 I was invited by Yun Kim, a member of the USU Sociology Department, to be part of the team assembled to write a proposal to obtain funds from the Asian Development Bank to conduct an assessment of the vocational training system in Bangladesh for the Government of Bangladesh and the Asian Development Bank. The proposal written by that USU team was selected, and the project was funded. In late May and early June 1995 I spent two weeks in Dhaka assisting in the conduct of that project and spent time after returning home to help draft the final report.
I first went to Bulgaria to participate as a speaker at a conference on worker adjustment in June 1994. However, my direct involvement in helping to design and implement an LED/CER project in Bulgaria began in the summer of 1997 with Sydney Smith from USDOL, and Jane Daly from Western States Multiservice Corp. We made several trips to Sofia and Bulgaria and designed and wrote a proposal that led to the implementation of what became known as the PLEDGE Project (Partners in Local Economic Development and Government Effectiveness). Part 2 of Chapter 6 of my memoir (AOAMM) contains my version of how that project came about and my role in its design and implementation.
Under the auspices of the International Labor Office (ILO) with UNDP funds, I carried out and obtained materials on the management development needs of Labor Service Enterprises and urban collectives as part of a technical assistance project for the Chinese Ministry of Labor (MOL). Based on my visits to several pilot cities and enterprises that were selected by the Chinese MOL in Shenyang and Qingdao, I was asked to design a questionnaire for a baseline survey to be conducted by the Chinese government. The objectives of that survey were: (1) to ascertain the training needs of managers of labor service enterprises and urban collectives established by local governments to generate employment; (2) to facilitate the creation of training programs and projects to help communities provide employment to unemployed workers in designated target cities and regions; and (3) to help enterprise leaders more effectively manage existing enterprise to address the employment needs of workers in their areas of responsibility. That project was completed in December 1998.
My extensive involvement with Hungary began in the early 1990s by helping Gedeon Werner, a USDOL Program Officer, design and conduct USDOL LMR work plans for both Poland and Hungary. In the course of those activities, I learned that Maria Heidkamp was conducting a USDOL “Rapid Response” worker adjustment project in Hungary that had begun in 1994. Later, in 1995 while I was engaged in writing an LED Guide as part of a CEE Regional ILO/UNDP project, I learned that Maria Heidkamp had been unsuccessful in her efforts to develop a viable LED component for the Hungary Rapid Response Project. Subsequently, I met with her in Budapest and told her about the new LED/CER Guide I had developed for the ILO. She became interested in pilot testing that approach in Hungary, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The PRISMA Project in Macedonia was initiated in February 1999 after the USDOL asked me to go to Skopje, Macedonia, to see if we could design a project for that country. A former USAID official from Bulgaria had recently been transferred to Macedonia, and he liked our PLEDGE project in Bulgaria and wanted us to design a similar project for Macedonia. Sydney Smith, a USDOL Program Officer, and someone from Western States Multiservice Corp. (the contractor recently awarded a contract to manage this type of work for the USDOL) and I went to Skopje to see what could be done. We eventually designed and wrote a proposal that was funded,l and started work on the PRISMA project.
My first consulting assignment for the ILO was offered in 1990, but it was delayed for several months for some reason. In January 1991 the ILO office in Washington formally asked me to accept a five-week consulting assignment, or “identification mission” as they called it, to go to Kathmandu as part of a team to conduct a study on developing a national productivity improvement policy and program. The team leader was Keith Lewis, an experienced British and ILO consultant. We would also have a Nepalese national consultant and a staff person located in the UN DP offices in Kathmandu to help us with that study. Chapter 8 of my memoir describes my experiences with that project.
Because of its considerable population, the importance of Solidarity Trade Union and its role in precipitating the fall of the Communist regime in Poland and its relationship with the American labor movement, this nation became one of the principal countries in the region to receive technical assistance and training programs through the SEED Act shortly after the U.S. Congress passed it in 1989. My involvement with USDOL in Poland began in January1994 and continued throughout much the decade. I spent more time working in Poland with Solidarity and Polish government agencies than in any other country in the CEE region. As a result, my account of my work in Poland fills a significant part of my memoir along with the reports of USDOL Labor Market Transition projects in the CEE region.
Unfortunately, there is no Final Report of the Workforce Development Project in Poland. Alison Smith, the first Project Director, left the project in midstream to get married and moved with her diplomat husband to The Hague, Netherlands. The second Project Director, Lee Schore, wrote a draft report covedring her time in Katowice, but she had not been there for much of the project. A decision was made at the USDOL Office of Foreign Relations in Washington by its Director, Jim Perlmutter, that Jim Rude, the USDOL Project Officer, would do the Final Report. Either Rude never completed the report or something happened to it because no Final Project Report is available. However, the USAID links to the SEED Act-funded program in Poland in the 1990s mentions this work.
In January 1997 the USDOL asked me to go to Romania on an urgent assignment to be part of a World Bank initiated design team to help address some of the serious economic and employment problems Romania faced. That assignment caused me to create a new and innovative approach to systematically address the structural adjustment, enterprise and community adjustment, labor market transition, and local economic development problems in a holistic way -- the “USDOL Adjustment Model.” From the outset, the Adjustment Model was tested in the entire country of Romania. The Adjustment Model built on earlier experiences gained in Hungary and Poland and was used in several subsequent projects in the CEE region. Several chapters of my memoir are devoted to the design and implementation of the USDOL Adjustment Model and the challenges its implementation presented.
The Serbia Project, a World Bank funded project for the Government of Serbia, was one of the first attempts by Worldwide Strategies Inc. (an offshoot of Western States Multiservice Corp.) under the direction and leadership of Virginia Stacey and several former USDOL personnel to bid on after their contract work for USDOL with SEED Act funds wound down in 2002. By then I was semi-retired for health reasons, but Virginia Stacey and Sydney Smith asked me to help them design the proposal and provide whatever assistance I could if their proposal was accepted. I agreed to do so and helped write the proposal, and provided some consulting assistance, including writing several of the manuals at my home.
This project, like the Ukraine project, turned out to be more difficult than expected because of difficulties working with the Serbian officials assigned to oversee the project for the government. However, WSI staff acquitted themselves well under very trying circumstances and successfully completed the project.
On February 1998, I responded to an urgernt request from Michael Henriques at the ILO to help them develop a response to the “Asian Financial Crisis.” On February 28, 1998, I flew to Bangkok to work with two ILO staff, Gerry Finnegan and Taka Ueda, to conduct a study of the impact of the crisis on Thailand and come up with recommendations by March 9, 1998. Our work was then submitted to Eddy Lee at the ILO headquarters in Geneva to be incorporated into a document he was preparing for a report and use at a subsequent meeting to be held in Bangkok April 23-28, 1998. After completing our work in Bangkok, I was asked to fly to Geneva on March 22, 1998 to participate with Gerry Finnegan and Duncan Campbell to finalize the document. Our work did not get much play in Eddy Lee’s published .document called “The social impact of the Asian financial crisis,” that was subsequently used in the April meeting held in Bangkok. However, our work did get considerable visability and strong support in the Conference Room paper and the Governing Body paper.
The Ukraine project begun in 2000 and was a very difficult project to design and more difficult to implement. Because of health problems, I was unable to make any trips to Kiev or to help start that project so I .did the design work from my home. But back in the early 1990s I had spent a week in Kiev as part of an ILO team to present a seminar on cooperatives so I knew something about the country and its problems. The project, as seen from my account in my AOAMM turned out to be one of the most difficult projects carried out in that region by the USDOL and WSI.