Agency Seeks Consultants for E. Europe Region Needs Help in Privatization
Jon Sawyer Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau Chief, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
THE U.S. AGENCY for International Development, which expects to spend $250 million to spur privatization in the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe, is coming to St. Louis Tuesday to drum up greater participation by midwestern firms and private organizations.
The last round of contracts the agency awarded for technical services in the former Soviet Union was heavily dominated by East Coast applicants. Those contracts accounted for some 60 percent of all the dollars spent. The Midwest captured just 14 percent.
Gregory Huger, the agency's director of private-sector initiatives for the former Soviet Union, said the idea was not simply to spread the wealth. Nor, he said, is the agency playing the old game of logrolling, spreading out contracts to as many congressional districts as possible to maintain political support.
"We decided to do this because we want to make sure that everyone across the United States who could offer something in this process has a chance to do it," Huger said. "We want a very active competition among the companies, private voluntary organizations, universities and individuals who are experienced in this kind of work."
Huger, a native of St. Louis, stressed that the new effort at outreach was not a slap at AID's existing contractors.
"We're not saying the work so far hasn't been good - it's very good," he said. "The success of the program is testament to the good work they've been doing. But we feel we can do better, and part of doing better is making sure that more companies, more NGOs (non-government organizations) and more individuals compete."
The conference in St. Louis is scheduled for 9 a.m. at the Radisson Hotel at Lindbergh Boulevard and Interstate 70 in Bridgeton. The agency held the first such conference last week, at Newark (N.J.) Airport, and will host a third Thursday in Seattle. Those interested in the grant-solicitation process can contact the agency by telefax, at 703-875-1957.
Administration officials call this the second phase of privatization. It builds on Russia's success in transferring to private hands a majority of the shares in the enterprises that make up some 75 percent of the nation's total industrial capacity. American firms have been heavily involved, thanks to some $430 million in AID grants for technical services awarded since the summer of 1992. …