Last week, MFAN Member Sarah Jane Staats, director of policy outreach at the Center for Global Development, published an op-ed in the Global Post lamenting on the vacant leadership positions at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Staats argued that these top positions need to be filled in order for the agency to successfully implement internal reforms and move the overall foreign assistance reform agenda forward. Staats wrote:
“To date, only one official — USAID Administrator Raj Shah — has been confirmed. While Shah has skilled and capable leaders in his front office and throughout the agency, several of whom have been doing yeoman’s work in acting positions, it is unconscionable that all remaining management seats remain unfilled 18 months into this administration. Shah cannot captain the USAID ship without a crew.”
“USAID cannot be the premier development agency everyone envisions without appointed and confirmed leaders at the helm of its regional and functional bureaus. Nor can it elevate development across the U.S. government — as Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and even Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have called for — without a full cadre of assistant administrators to inform major development policy reviews taking place right now and congressional efforts to rewrite foreign assistance legislation.”
Josh Rogin later reported on The Cable that President Obama intends to nominate Nancy Lindborg — current President of Mercy Corps and MFAN Principal — to be Assistant Administrator for USAID’s Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Affairs Bureau, as well as nominate Donald K. Steinberg to be Deputy Administrator of USAID. The other names working their way through the nomination process are: Mark Feierstein to be Assistant Administrator of Latin America and Nisha Desai Biswal to be Assistant Administrator of Asia; both were approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week. The Obama Administration is now batting 5 out of 12 for Senate-confirmed leadership positions at USAID.