In October 1973 the Office of International and Environmental Programs (OIEP) was established by merging the previously created Office of International Activities with the Office of Environmental Science. Wimberly Coerr, former ambassador to Ecuador and Uruguay, was appointed director of the new office.
The Office of International Activities had been created in 1966 to develop and administer programs of international cooperation, emphasizing basic research in the humanities and sciences, and to administer the Smithsonian Foreign Currency Program. William Warner was appointed Director. When Warner became acting assistant secretary for public service in 1968, David Challinor was appointed acting director. Challinor became director in 1969 and served in that capacity until he became acting assistant secretary (science) in 1971. Challinor was succeeded by Kenneth B. Schmertz, who was appointed acting director.
The Office of Environmental Science was established in October 1969, with Irvin Eugene Wallen appointed as its director. The Office's primary function was to make visible the Smithsonian's research projects in environmental science and find ways of receiving financial support and scientific collaboration from other environmental agencies.
When the two offices merged, William L. Eilers was appointed deputy director of OIEP and acting director of the Ecology Program. Schmertz was made director of the Smithsonian Foreign Currency Program.
Under OIEP, the old programs were given continued support. Those programs included the Oceanography and Limnology Program, which consisted mainly of two oceanographic sorting centers processing bulk marine samples, monitoring and assessing marine pollution, and conducting environmental prediction studies; the Ecology Program, which assisted in planning for the selection of ecologically significant localities in the United States through studies provided by the Center for Natural Areas and, through the Smithsonian-Peace Corps Environmental Program, helped develop Peace Corps projects concerning environmental problems abroad and recruited project applicants skilled in the environmental biological sciences; the International Activities Program, which granted awards to American institutions and Smithsonian units conducting research in those countries where the United States held an excess of local currency and assisted Smithsonian personnel involved in travel and research abroad; and the Center for Short-Lived Phenomena, which operated a world-wide electronic alert system in order to collect data concerning natural and environmental events of short duration.