The Office of International Activities was established in March, 1966 with William W. Warner as its first Director. In 1968 David Challinor became Acting Director when Warner was appointed Acting Assistant Secretary for Public Service. The Office of International Activities was combined with the Office of Environmental Sciences in October 1973, forming the Office of International and Environmental Programs (OIEP). Wymberley Coerr was appointed OIEP Director at that time. The Director of the Foreign Currency Program, entitled OIEP, Office of International and Foreign Currency Programs, is Kennedy B. Schmertz, appointed in 1966. Appointed in FY 1967, Kenneth Whitehead served as Deputy to the Foreign Currency Program Director until September, 1972. The present Deputy Director is C. Elmer Skold, appointed in October, 1972.
The Foreign Currency Program was initiated in FY 1966 when the Smithsonian received its first appropriation of excess foreign currencies deriving from the sale of agricultural surplus under Public Law 480, in order to undertake a grant program for overseas archeological excavation or research in the so-called excess-currency countries. Grants were administered by the Smithsonian to American universities or museums. The major geographical focus was on the countries of Ceylon, Egypt, India, Israel, Tunisia, and Yugoslavia. The greatest amount of excess currency funds available was for study in India. Although the original grant program only specified research in archeology and related disciplines, Congress later extended the scope of the program to include systematic and environmental biology, earth sciences, astrophysics, museum programs, and support for Bicentennial-related exchange of performing artists and craftsmen.