This week’s Saturday profile in The New York Times featured Dr. Rajiv Shah, the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. As one of the Obama administration’s most visible foreign policy players since the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Shah has spearheaded an “ambitious campaign to rebuild Usaid that will ultimately determine his success or failure in Washington.”
“Interviews with several Usaid employees suggest that Dr. Shah has begun to re-energize the agency in the last 10 months. His efforts recently got a major lift from the White House, which issued a new development policy that pledges to restore Usaid as the premier American aid agency.”
Next month the State Department is expected to release the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) which, according to the NYT piece, “will reinforce Usaid’s expanded role but lash it even more firmly to the State Department.”
“To the extent that State maintains firm control over Usaid, it can make it difficult for any agency to revitalize itself,” said Connie Veillette, director of the program for rethinking foreign assistance at the Center for Global Development and MFAN Principal. “Usaid needs to have a stronger voice.”
“As a government, we have a coherent strategy for the first time since J.F.K.,” said David Beckmann, co-chair of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network and president of Bread for the World. “The only good thing that came out of the Haiti earthquake,” he added, “is that it raised Raj Shah to be a partner of the president.”
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