RTI International

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RTI International is a large, North Carolina-based, non-profit research corporation. According to its 2004 annual report, RTI's largest source of income is U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) contracts. More than one-third of its $509.5 million in 2004 income came from USAID. [1]

In addition to its main office in North Carolina's Research Triange, RTI has eight U.S. regional offices, five international offices (in the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Britain, South Africa and El Salvador), and one international subsidiary, RTI Polska LLC in Warsaw, Poland. [2] RTI's "worldwide staff of more than 2,500 individuals" is divided into four research teams - Social and Statistical Sciences, Science and Engineering, International Development, and RTI Health Solutions - and administrative support. [3]

In October 2007, a private military contractor working for RTI International in Iraq shot and killed two Iraqi women civilians in Baghdad. "The guards in the shooting worked for Unity Resources Group, an Australian-run security company registered in Singapore and with headquarters in Dubai," reported the New York Times. [1] The Unity contractors provide protection for RTI International. "Statements from both Unity and RTI have made clear the guards were not escorting RTI clients when the shooting occurred," reported Associated Press. RTI "promotes governance projects in Iraq for the U.S. Agency for International Development." [2]


As RTI's 2004 annual report illustrates, its research is remarkably wide-ranging. The report includes sections describing its work: [4]

  • "helping China prepare for the 2008 Olympics"
  • "bringing local governance to Iraq"
  • "rebuilding South Africa's education system"
  • "addressing HIV/AIDS among high-risk populations," including sex workers and homeless people
  • "developing a new [male] contraceptive"
  • "ensuring a future for nature-based research," by identifying "life-saving drugs from natural sources"
  • "focusing on clean fuel and U.S. energy independence," including biomass, hydrogen fuel, and reduced-sulfur coal, diesel and gasoline
  • "preserving our homeland security," by managing PREDICT (Protected Repository for the Defense of Infrastructure Against Cyber Threats), a "secure data repository intended to support the development of research and products that will protect our nation’s cyber infrastructure," for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

International work

In testimony before the U.S. Congress, the Senior Vice-President of RTI's International Development Group, Dr. Ron Johnson, enumerated "four key components that contribute to stable conditions under which a democratic society can develop and flourish." These include "freedom for a society to select its own leaders in an open, democratic process; security that prevents outside agents from dispensing violence and supporting insurgence; societies investing in their own people, in education and health and social programs; and finally, a system of governance in which the populous can observe and hold their leaders accountable." Often they are furthered by "shifting from central authority to local control ... the delivery of everyday government services," said Dr. Johnson (Federal News Service, May 4, 2005).

According to Defense Daily International (March 18, 2005), RTI has employed TOR International, "a private security firm based in the United Kingdom and with offices in Arlington," Virginia, to provide security for RTI staff working in conflict areas.

In addition to the countries listed below, RTI has also worked in Mali, the Philippines, Venezuela, Tunisia and the Ivory Coast (The Washington Post, April 12, 2003, and Triangle Business Journal, Raleigh NC, May 3, 1996).


From 2003 to 2004, RTI won an up to $167 million contract to "foster democratic local government in Iraq"; it spent some $156 million. In 2003, RTI set up local "elections" in Iraq whereby selected individuals were invited to choose from candidates (nominated by anyone in the community) to be on city councils. However, everyone - nominees and voters - were vetted by the occupation authority. Pratap Chatterjee wrote that the goal of these "elections / selections" was "to create a new five-tier council system, which would not reject the American overseers. These neighborhood councils would select district councils, which in turn would select county councils, which would select a provincial council, which, finally, would select a governor." [5]

RTI's Dr. Ron Johnson further described the Iraq "elections / selections" to Congress (Federal News Service, May 4, 2005):

During the course of our work in Iraq, in many cases working alongside coalition forces, especially in the early first year, we supported the formation of about 700 of the over 1,000 local government councils throughout the country. More than a year before Iraq elected its first national assembly, local councils were operating all across Iraq. Though these councils were far from perfect examples, they nonetheless provide a valuable means for citizens to express grievances, set priorities, and demand accountability from local leaders. ... Conduct of open meetings and local media coverage for these councils is the norm, rather than the exception, with these councils in Iraq. The pride which Iraqis feel in serving on these councils and the dedication and courage that they exhibit in the face of threats and deaths of some local council members are an inspiration.

In April 2004, RTI won a one-year extension on its USAID contract, "worth up to $154 million." A North Carolina paper reported that RTI was "helping provincial, town and neighborhood councils learn to govern democratically" and also "helping workers learn how to provide services such as water and sewer and garbage collection." In Iraq, RTI works with "more than 300 local councils and all 18 provincial governments," with its staff of "about 2,200 Iraqis and 220 foreign workers." [6]

Contrary to RTI's and USAID's sunny estimates of RTI's "local democracy" work in Iraq, Pratap Chatterjee reported, "Three former RTI employees who worked on the project told CorpWatch that the company spent 90 percent of the money on expensive expatriate staff, gave out lots of advice and held lots of meetings, but did little to provide support for local community organizations or councils." [7]

In April 2005, RTI "won two new U.S. government contracts for reconstruction work in Iraq." One, "worth $90 million over two years," entails working with local governments "on the relationship between the elected bodies and staff department heads," and "on creating a legal and regulatory framework for local government operations. An early area of concentration will be training new provincial council members who were elected in January." At USAID's discretion, this contract may be renewed "for up to three additional years," reported The News & Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina, April 28, 2005).

In April 2005, the Associated Press reported, "Six Iraqi employees on [RTI's local democracy] project have been killed, including two women who were assassinated" (April 27, 2005).

RTI's other Iraq work is "a $15 million contract ... to develop a training program for Iraqi health-care providers. ... Optional work with the Iraqi Ministry of Health, which would be worth $10 million more, could be added later to that contract," wrote The News & Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina, April 28, 2005). Four months after the contract was awarded, U.S. Congressman David Price (Dem.-N.C.), said RTI was "implementing a training and management program for 150 model health care centers in Iraq" (US Fed News, August 25, 2005).


RTI heads the "Managing Basic Education" program for USAID, part of the agency's $157 million "Indonesia Education Initiative." [8] [9] According to a July 2004 Focus on the Global South article, "In Indonesia, RTI trained bureaucrats to 'restructure local water utilities into profit making entities' by obliging Indonesian city-dwellers to pay for urban services." [10]

In April 2005, RTI won a "$59.7 million contract to support local government development in Indonesia." The contract extended RTI's past work in the country for USAID. "Under the new contract, RTI and 250 Indonesian staff members will work with city officials to create an understanding of budgeting, economic development and other municipal functions. RTI will work with 50 partner organizations and 500 local non-governmental organizations. The goal is to help local governments in Indonesia transition from a highly centralized state to a democratic and decentralized one," reported The Herald-Sun (Durham, NC, April 22, 2005).

RTI's Dr. Ron Johnson described the company's Indonesia work to Congress (Federal News Service, May 4, 2005):

Indonesia is an excellent example where U.S. government programs have prominently assisted decentralization of authority. While prosperous and growing a decade ago, large segments of society were left out of both the political process and the rising prosperity. Less than a decade after the economic collapse and the overthrow of the Suharto regime, Indonesia has made significant reforms and remarkable progress doing significant measure to a number of U.S.- supported programs to decentralize government.
Indonesia has held successive elections for national office with virtually no violence. This year, for the first time in its history, all Indonesian local officials, executive and legislative, will have been legitimately elected. These programs in Indonesia, many conducted by RTI International, have focused on shifting authority from central to provincial and municipal governments. Currently critical work is underway by RTI and other partners to strengthen local government in Aceh Province to enable it to cope with the overwhelming governmental responsibilities in the wake of the tsunami.

According to a Washington Post story, USAID felt that RTI's experience in Indonesia made the company a good choice for post-war Iraq contracts. USAID senior project officer Chris Milligan said, "In Indonesia, RTI in one year helped facilitate over 100,000 meetings between communities and their newly elected officials in one province. So I have seen their expertise in exactly this environment. Indonesia was coming out of three decades under an authoritarian regime very similar in some ways to Iraq" (Washington Post, April 18, 2003).

The New York Times described RTI's work in Indonesia, part of a five-year, $157 million U.S.-funded education-related programs there: [11]

To organize the training of the Indonesian teachers, the United States hired a Washington consulting firm, Research Triangle Institute, which specializes in running American education programs abroad.
The company hired an American with Indonesian experience to run the teacher training, and he in turn hired a small army of Indonesian educators in the provinces to conduct the training workshops.
The training manuals deal with such basics as how to organize a classroom — in small friendly groups of tables rather than rows — to how to stimulate classroom discussion to how to study nature.


RTI is "establishing a small LRC Library at the Ministry of Education Curriculum Wing to promote awareness about Education Sector Reform Assistance (Esra) in Pakistan," according to the Business Reporter (September 17, 2005).

RTI is also "assisting the government of Pakistan to provide for greater local management of the education system without sacrificing national standards for curriculum and quality," said RTI's Dr. Ron Johnson (Federal News Service, May 4, 2005).


Through early December 2005, RTI was advertising for key media personnel for "donor-funded independent media development projects in Egypt and the Middle East region." Duties in the anticipated three-year project include "in-country media training and capacity development for journalists, students, broadcasters, media owners, and editors; independent media development and decentralization; legal and regulatory reform; newsroom and institutional development; advertising; and English language training." [12]

South Africa

Also on a USAID contract, RTI works with "3 municipalities in five South African provinces," to "improve municipal performance and increase revenue." The $4 million contract is part of the South African Department of Provincial and Local Government's "Project Consolidate," which USAID called "an initiative to provide hand-on assistance to local governments."

The work includes "an improved communication strategy" to help citizens "realize their civic duty to pay for the municipal services they consume"; a website that municipalities can use to "share best practices"; and training courses for municipal workers in "strategic planning, procurement, local economic development, and financial management," reported US Fed News (April 11, 2005).


In January 2005, USAID awarded a $24 million, five year project "to increase the use of community health services in Rwanda," called the Twubakane Decentralization and Health Project, to RTI, fellow North Carolina contractor IntraHealth International and Tulane University's Payson Center for International Development and Technology Transfer. "In addition to strengthening community-based services in family planning and reproductive health, child survival, malaria and nutrition, the Twubakane Project will focus on financial management, anti-corruption and local participatory governance," reported the Chapel Hill Herald (Durham, NC, January 29, 2005).

El Salvador

RTI conducted an environmental-impact study for "a sanitary landfill in El Izcatal district" slated "to receive the waste of 19 municipalities located in the country's central area," reported Business News Americas (July 20, 2005).

According to the Washington Post, RTI was working to "build local governments from the ground up" in El Salvador, "while its civil war was still underway" (April 18, 2003).


In April 2005, RTI "won an $8.8 million contract ... to develop and manage public-private alliances in Guatemala. Under the five-year project, RTI and partner University Research Co. will use funds from USAID and cash and in-kind contributions from the Guatemalan private sector and multinational corporations to finance local initiatives aimed at improving basic health, nutrition and education services in Guatemala. RTI also will provide technical assistance and training to strengthen the alliance-building and fund-raising skills of its partners," reported The Herald-Sun (Durham, NC, April 19, 2005).


In April 2005, RTI "received an $8.7 million contract to support municipal budget reform in Ukraine. The contract, RTI's third from the U.S. Agency for International Development in the past week, funds a three-year project that will help Ukrainian officials achieve budgetary goals consistent with their long-term development strategies," reported The Herald-Sun (Durham, NC, April 26, 2005).


In November 2005, RTI won an $8 million, three year USAID contract to "provide technical assistance and training to support Armenia's efforts to strengthen local governments." The Triangle Business Journal reported, "RTI staff will work alongside local government officials to implement financial management systems and controls, increase accountability and transparency of local government and increase the capacity of local governments to deliver services." [13]


RTI's website includes a long list of private sector, non-profit, U.S. government and international clients, including: [14]

Contact info

Main Office:
RTI International
3040 Cornwallis Road
Post Office Box 12194
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-2194
Phone: 919-541-6000
Fax: 919-541-5985
E-mail: listen AT rti.org
Website: http://www.rti.org

SourceWatch resources

External links


  1. Andrew E. Kramer, "2 Killed in Shooting Mourned Far Beyond Iraq," New York Times, October 11, 2007.
  2. Qassim Abdul-Zahra, "Funeral for 2 Slain in Security Shooting," Associated Press, October 10, 2007.