Calmer Iraq a big boost to non-profit's work

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK - The sharp drop in violence across Iraq recently and a buildup of hybrid civilian-military reconstruction teams have given RTI International's long-running reconstruction project there a big boost.

The RTP-based nonprofit institute has expanded its staff of a federally funded program to strengthen local governments by nearly 50 percent, to about 910, and is hiring more at the rate of 10 a month. Many of the new hires are part of a surge in "Provincial Reconstruction Teams" designed to complement the recent military buildup, which is credited with some of the reduction in violence.

A big benefit is that RTI's staff can do substantially more work because of fewer frustrations such as meetings and convoys canceled because of security problems, officials said.

"We're probably doing about 25 percent more work across the board," said Phil Gary, director of the project for RTI.

RTI is working under contract to the U.S. Agency for International Development. Its job is mainly to train local government workers and officials in such things as developing an annual budget, delivering clean water, collecting garbage and treating sewage.

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