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ADST Interview with Kenneth F. Smith: Around the World Odyssey with USAID
July 22, 2021
3:54 pm
Tish Butler
Forum Posts: 116
Member Since:
April 22, 2016
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“My around-the-world odyssey with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Development Administration to further and foster U.S. Foreign Aid Policies focused on applying Program & Project Management ‘Best Practices’ and innovations to infrastructure, economic, and social development projects — as well as intermittent disaster relief activities — in many countries; despite often-deficient organizational environments. Subsequent consulting – also in project management — was with the World Bank Group, African and Asian Development Banks, and the UN; as well as with USAID. My interview is replete with anecdotes (humorous in retrospect) – such as the Vietnamese Rat Tail Project (p 42); the Indonesian Well & Toilet Project (p 103); the Papua New Guinea Highway Project (p 131) and Ethiopian University Project (p 145) — illustrating several key issues and ‘Lessons Learned’ therefrom.

The highlights of my 38-year military career from basic airman to ‘bird’ colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve — often concomitantly entwined with my foreign service career – were also covered, including Vietnam service, POW Repatriation [Project Homecoming] (p. 64), and VN Evacuation (p. 71); as well as 20 more post-retirement years as an Air Force Academy/ROTC Admissions Liaison Officer (ALO) and Congressional Service Academy Advisory Board (SAAB) member.

In conducting their interviews, questioners penetrate official veneer to obtain unclassified personal perspectives and singular insights on the situations, as well as unvarnished opinions about the circumstances and personalities involved; or to paraphrase 20th Century news-radio broadcaster Paul Harvey — “Now you can Read the Rest of the Story!” [NOTE: Views expressed by interviewees do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Government.] Consequently, the DOH collection contains material not found in other official documents, so is an invaluable source of unique information for historians, academicians and other researchers of U.S. government, history and international affairs.

A copy of my interview is attached, and — together with other oral histories — is also available to the public from the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training (ADST) at:

In addition to government & international relations historians and academics, my ‘undiplomatic’ interview should be of particular interest to U.S. Air Force chroniclers; as well as members of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and readers of the Project Management World Journal (PMWJ). [NOTE: The Logical Framework, Critical Path, Line-of-Balance, and other tools mentioned during the interview in connection with USAID, consulting and military activities are detailed in my legacy book Project Management PRAXIS (available from Amazon). For details, check my website: .
[Further inquiries to are also welcome.]”

To read Ken’s oral history piece at the ADST, click on this link:

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