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International Affairs

            Technical Assistance

Treasury's Office of Technical Assistance supports the development of strong financial sectors and sound public financial management in countries where assistance is needed and there is a strong commitment to reform.

The mission of the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Technical Assistance (OTA) is to help finance ministries and central banks of developing and transition countries strengthen their ability to manage public finances effectively and safeguard their financial sectors. Such assistance is in the interest of OTA partner countries and the United States. Strong financial sectors and sound management of public finance support financial stability, investment, and economic growth. Developing countries that generate more domestic revenue and manage their resources effectively are less dependent on foreign aid. Governments that develop effective financial sector oversight regimes are valuable partners in the global effort to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. OTA’s work supports the Treasury Department’s strategic goals to enhance U.S. competitiveness and job creation, and promote international financial stability and more balanced global growth, and to safeguard the financial system and use financial measures to counter national security threats  
 
In providing technical assistance, OTA follows a number of guiding principles:
 
  • OTA supports self-reliance. OTA provides countries with the knowledge and skills required to move towards financial self-sufficiency—including the capability to generate and better manage their own government finances—and to reduce dependence on international aid. OTA generally follows a three- to five-year project cycle that is aimed at creating maximum impact and exiting when local capacity has been created.
       
  • OTA is selective. OTA works with governments that are committed to reform—reform that they design and own—and to using U.S. assistance effectively.Among U.S. agencies involved in foreign aid, OTA has been recognized for supporting country ownership; achieving alignment with host country priorities; managing for development results; and fostering mutual accountability with host country officials. OTA does not engage with a country without a signed bilateral Terms of Reference document that sets out the high-level terms and aims of the engagement, followed by a tactical-level work plan specifying activities in support of those aims.
 
  • OTA works side-by-side with counterparts. OTA engagements are based on close interaction between advisors and working-level partners, whether in a finance ministry, central bank, financial intelligence unit, tax administration, or other relevant government agency. OTA advisors introduce sound practices in daily work routines through ongoing mentoring and on-the-job training.
 
METHODOLOGY
 
A.   INCEPTION
 
Requests for technical assistance and information regarding potential projects initially may come from many sources, including U.S. embassies, USAID missions, other offices within Treasury, international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and from OTA advisors already on the ground implementing other projects. In all circumstances, however, OTA requires as a prerequisite to any potential engagement that a written request come from the foreign counterpart government. In this way, OTA ensures at least a modicum of political will, which is fundamental to a successful engagement.
 
B.    ASSESSMENT 
 
Where a written request from the host government has been received and the requested technical assistance is deemed to be within the OTA mandate, an on-the-ground assessment is typically conducted. This assessment is staffed usually by an OTA Associate Director and/or Senior Advisor with deep experience in the subject matter as well as technical assistance norms. During the assessment visit, OTA assessors will meet with stakeholders to determine whether technical assistance needs are consistent with the type of support OTA provides (e.g., consultative not equipment purchases) and whether there is sufficient political will and leadership to make recommended reforms. 
 
During the in-country visit, OTA assessors identify a counterpart office appropriate to host OTA advisors, given that a fundamental operating principle is that they be co-located with the counterpart. Likewise, during the assessment, general goals and objectives of a prospective engagement are discussed and shared with counterpart stakeholders to gauge their recognition of the associated need to take on requisite reforms. In the experience of OTA, goals and objectives that are not “owned” by the counterpart are seldom achieved. 
 
The assessment results and recommendations are detailed in a final written report. OTA recommendations to begin a new projects (or to continue or terminate existing projects, for that matter) are based on criteria and considerations that include (i) the need for technical assistance; (ii) evidence of counterpart commitment to reform and good use of assistance; (iii) whether the project would complement other projects in a particular country or region and not be duplicative; (iv) the relation of the project to Treasury policy priorities and broader U.S. Government goals; and (v) the availability of funding. In the course of assessing the prospects for a given project, OTA also consults with other Treasury offices, and other partners and stakeholders such as the Department of State and USAID (both in the field, at the embassy level and at the headquarters level in Washington), the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. The assessment report typically includes a recommendation to OTA management and potential outside funders of whether an engagement is warranted; the scope of any such engagement; and a summary of meetings with counterpart stakeholders and other interested parties. The general results of the assessment are typically shared during an out-briefing with U.S. embassy officials, including representatives who often join OTA during the assessment meetings. The assessment report in final form is also distributed to the embassy, as well as to others within the U.S. interagency. 
 
C.   MODES OF ENGAGEMENT AND STAFFING 
 
OTA engagements are constructed on a resident- or intermittent-advisor basis. Whether a resident or intermittent project model is selected depends on the extent and nature of the problems to be solved, and the most practical solutions to those problems. OTA resident advisors typically are co-located with their counterparts and work with them on a daily basis, whereas intermittent engagements allow for regular advisor visits of one week or more in duration over a series of months. In both scenarios, the work of the OTA resident advisor or intermittent team lead is supplemented by subject matter expert advisors, each of whom provides particularized technical assistance on an intermittent basis. For both types of engagements, OTA often hires a permanent, full-time program assistant in-country to support the project.
 
OTA advisors are typically employed under personal services contracts directly with Treasury, although some advisors are U.S. Government direct hires or detailees from other U.S. Government agencies. Advisors are recruited and hired after established careers in the financial, regulatory, analytical, enforcement or legal sectors. Nearly all of them come to OTA having worked and/or lived overseas and many of them have foreign language competency. OTA maintains an ongoing recruitment process, including so that it can respond quickly and favorably to emerging counterpart needs.
 
OTA advisors in the field are supported by a small Washington-based office that provides management, administrative and logistical support. OTA management ensures the integrity of the engagement through ongoing monitoring and evaluation as well as serves as a focal point for D.C.-based inter-agency collaboration and communication, including achieving technical assistance outcomes that are maximally supportive of policy objectives.
 
D.   TERMS OF REFERENCE 
 
Once a resident or intermittent project is selected and a funding source identified, a Terms of Reference (TOR) document is presented to the counterpart agency and signed.  The TOR describes the broad goals of the project and represents a bilateral understanding at the policy level between the Treasury and the host institution. The willingness of the host institution to enter into the TOR also serves as another key indicator of political commitment. As such, it is another prerequisite of an OTA engagement.
 
E.    WORK PLAN DEVELOPMENT 
 
Within a short period after signing the TOR, a detailed work plan is developed and agreed to by OTA management, the advisor assigned to the project, and the working-level counterparts. The work plan identifies key, prioritized challenges and activities to ensure progress is made to remedy them in a given period of time. The work plan serves as a baseline against which monthly progress reports are submitted and achievements-to-date are monitored. That said, the work plan is viewed as a flexible document and can be amended to meet emerging needs or new priorities, assuming the consent of the counterpart(s) and the concurrent availability of funding.
 
F.    MONITORING AND EVALUATION
 
OTA evaluates its projects using a variety of methods, including written monthly reports prepared by advisors that describe progress against work plan objectives; capture counterpart achievements linked to technical assistance; and where warranted identify impediments to progress. The monthly reports are broadly disseminated, including within Treasury; to the U.S. embassy and others at Post; and to other U.S. Government offices with expressed interest. The reports are a critical management tool to track progress and initiate corrective action where warranted. In addition to oversight through review of the monthly reports, supervising officials also conduct annual on-site program reviews to meet with the counterparts and advisors, review the project progress, and support programmatic planning. Depending on the requirements of outside funders, OTA also prepares reporting documents that typically chronicle developments over a defined period (e.g., quarterly). These substantive reports are usually paired with financial reporting for that same duration.
 
OTA also evaluates the interim progress of an engagement through an end-of-tour report, which captures the feedback and assessment of advisors concluding a particular assignment as either as a resident advisor or team lead in the case of an intermittent program. In addition, at the conclusion of an engagement, OTA also mandates an end-of-project report to evaluate the potential long-term impact of an engagement as well as to capture “lessons learned” to improve implementation elsewhere. To ensure impartiality, these reports are prepared by OTA staff otherwise unaffiliated with implementation of the particular project and are conducted typically within three to six months following the end of assistance activities.
 
In addition to monitoring and evaluation through reporting, OTA also evaluates the “traction” and “impact” of its ongoing engagements through an annual exercise. Using a numerical scale and in consultation with OTA managers, resident advisors or team leads annually assess each program for its level of “traction” (i.e., the degree to which changes in behavior have occurred, such as officials taking an active and participative role in pursuing change or interim deliverables on or ahead of schedule), and “impact” (i.e., the extent to which direct or indirect program objectives are actually achieved).  The setting of annual baseline targets and measuring results against those targets are done in accordance with Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance on program evaluations.
 
In addition to the traction and impact evaluation, OTA also issues “customer” surveys to policy and working-level counterparts in the host country, together with other interested parties to include U.S. embassy staff, funding sources, local interest groups and others who know first-hand of the work of OTA advisors on a particular engagement. The survey is valuable as it provides direct feedback from parties outside of the program with an interest in receiving and/or promoting high quality technical assistance and often times experience that provides a basis for comparing the efficacy of assistance programs. 
OTA is organized along functional lines, operating in five major disciplines.  For more detailed information on a particular Team, please click on the hyperlink.
 
  •  Revenue Administration and Policy Team: Creates more effective tax administrations that simplify procedures to encourage voluntary compliance on the part of taxpayers, effectively uncover tax evasion, and maintain high standards of fairness and transparency.
 
  •  Budget and Financial Accountability Team Strengthens the effectiveness of ministries of finance, the readability and transparency of budget documents, and the management and expenditure of government resources.
 
  • Government Debt Issuance and Management Team: Provides strategic and technical assistance to develop market-based means of public finance through the issuance of domestic government securities; increases the efficiency of government debt management; and implements comprehensive debt strategies that diversify sources of finance, reduce liability risk and lower debt service burdens. The team also hosts an infrastructure finance program which provides technical assistance to accelerate the development of financially sound infrastructure projects. 
 
  • Banking and Financial Services Team: Supports the development of strong financial sectors in which institutions are well-regulated, stable and accessible, serve as efficient intermediaries between savers and investors, and are resistant to criminal activity.
 
  • Economic Crimes Team:  Assists the development and implementation of anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing regimes that are compliant with international standards.  
 
 

Program Footprint

As of the end of 2013, OTA had 100 projects in nearly 50 countries (see map below).  While the specific number of projects and countries fluctuates from year to year, OTA has focused on providing even deeper assistance to fewer countries.  This selective approach recognizes the complex, systemic nature of public financial management and the importance of engaging with a counterpart government in various disciplines—tax administration, budget execution, debt management, financial sector supervision, and anti-corruption—both simultaneously and in a coordinated way to achieve more convincing results and a stronger overall system.

OTA footprint (063014).jpg

To learn more about OTA's current engagements, please select the link below.

 

Annual Impact Report 

This report summarizes OTA’s engagement worldwide and key accomplishments in 2013. 

OTA Annual Impact Report 2013

Report to Congress

OTA's annual Report to Congress provides an overview of program activities.  The report includes information on program organization, funding, and the process for selecting and implementing projects, describes changes in the program's global footprint, and summarizes project-specific highlights.  Please select a report below.

 

Headquarters Address:
Office of Technical Assistance
740 15th Street NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20005
 
General Inquiries:
Tel: 202-622-7610
Fax: 202-622-5879
 
Team Contacts:
 
Employment Opportunities
The Office of Technical Assistance is looking for talented individuals to fill a variety of full-time and part-time positions in Washington D.C. and locations around the world.  We are looking for outstanding candidates who want to make a difference in the lives of people in developing countries by furthering OTA’s mission to develop strong financial sectors and sound public financial management.
 
Our workforce is made up of direct-hire and personal services contractors.
 
Careers at Headquarters:
OTA’s Headquarters main office is located in the heart of Washington D.C., a few blocks from the White House.  The Headquarters team backstops our projects and advance our technical practices.  In addition, the offices within Headquarters provide services in finance, accounting, human resources, contracts, office services, and information technology support.
 
International Careers:
OTA offers positions in the field in over fifty countries.  We seek individuals who possess technical skills in the following areas:
  • Budget and Financial Accountability
  • Banking and Financial Services
  • Government Debt Issuance and Management
  • Economic Crimes
  • Revenue Policy and Administration
 
How to Apply:
To apply for an international short- or long-term position or Washington, D.C.-based opportunities, please visit:
  • www.usajobs.gov - for direct-hire positions, using the keyword Treasury OTA.
  • www.fbo.gov - for Personal Services Contracting opportunities, using the keyword OTA and choosing the posted date of the last 365 days.
 
Please follow the application instructions listed in the sites.
 
 
 
Treasury is an Equal Opportunity Employer agency.
 
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Last Updated :10/23/2014 11:44 AM

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