Regarding Michael Rubin's op-ed column ["Less Is More in Iraq," Aug. 9] about the negative effect the large number of U.S. contractors is having on Iraqi reconstruction efforts:

I just returned from my 11th trip to Iraq since April 2003. My company has been working to minimize its "footprint" in Iraq by turning its program implementation over to Iraqi nationals. Others supporting reconstruction efforts are doing the same.

The U.S. Agency for International Development's Local Governance Program, which at its height employed nearly 3,000 Iraqis, continues to be implemented primarily by Iraqis. The project employs about 600 Iraqis trained during the first two years of the program. They are supported by an international technical staff of 25. These ratios are not dictated by security costs but by good institutional development practices.

Reducing international staff is not in and of itself a cure for the violence, as Mr. Rubin suggested. What is needed is hard work to build governmental capacity. That is precisely the design of the Local Governance Program in Iraq.

RONALD W. JOHNSON

Research Triangle Park, N.C.

The writer is executive vice president of a company that implements USAID's Local Governance Program in Iraq.