Thursday, February 19, 2009

What’s Going to Happen to USAID? Jack Lew?

I got this as a top search item in this blog -- “what’s going to happen to USAID jack lew” I just made it look pretty ...

Last month, The Cable wrote about the anxiety surrounding the appointment of the next USAID Director: "The international development community is very upset and nervous on why it is taking so long for a USAID head to be named," said one Hill aide. "They fear it bespeaks a lack of prioritization in the new administration. Hillary Clinton's visit to USAID last Friday helped a little. They're also nervous that [deputy secretary of state] Jack Lew will be the unofficial development czar."

Which probably did not help USAID folks feel any better.

Then there’s this one from the Stimson Center:

To implement “smart power” Secretary of State Clinton needs to strengthen the State Department and reassert civilian control over U.S. foreign policy. She has already taken a major step in this direction with the nomination of Jack Lew as Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources – a position that has gone unfilled since Congress authorized it in 2000. As Deputy, Lew will be responsible for all foreign assistance within the State Department and USAID, as well as the operational management of the State Department. This significant appointment and span of authority allows the State Department to undertake the human resources reforms necessary to rebuild its capacity. This includes reformed career-long training for Foreign Service officers, cross-discipline and cross-agency assignments, and greater emphasis on long-term strategic planning for both diplomacy and foreign assistance within the State Department and USAID.

On January 28, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) did announce that Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Executive Secretary (ES) Alonzo L. Fulgham has been designated by the White House as Acting Administrator of the agency. Fulgham also serves as Coordinator of the Agency's Transition Efforts. He has served as the COO and ES since August 2006. A member of the Senior Foreign Service, Fulgham served as Mission Director in Afghanistan from June 2005 to July 2006. Prior to that, he served as the Director for South Asian Affairs in the Bureau for Asia and the Near East (ANE).

Queried about appointments recently, the Acting Deputy Spokesman had this to say: "The Secretary and the President have moved forward on making those nominations and appointing those people that they feel are necessary to move and get the State Department working at the moment. […] You’ve seen a fully engaged State Department. As for other appointments that may be coming, those are the prerogative of the Secretary and the President. They will make those appointments as and when they feel that those positions are critical to moving forward further with other initiatives."

Well now, we know that, I think …

During her first remarks at USAID Secretary Clinton did say this: I believe in development, and I believe with all my heart that it truly is an equal partner, along with defense and diplomacy, in the furtherance of America’s national security.” Earlier, at the State Department, she talked about the three legs to the stool of American foreign policy: defense, diplomacy, and development. “And we will make clear, as we go forward, that diplomacy and development are essential tools in achieving the long-term objectives of the United States. And I will do all that I can, working with you, to make it abundantly clear that robust diplomacy and effective development are the best long-term tools for securing America's future.”

So what do we make of all these?

Secretary Clinton has talked a bunch about “smart power,” so I imagine that she had read the report of the Smart Power Commission. The commission report has also cited Global Development as part of the smart power strategy and provided some recommendations: "As this report previously discussed, there are more than 50 separate, uncoordinated programs administered by the federal government that undertake economic and technical assistance. These programs are fractured, lack coordination, and are not aligned to achieve strategic goals. This represents a major impediment. The next president should task the deputy for smart power to work with the cabinet secretaries to develop a coherent management structure and an institutional plan within the first three months of office."

It seems to me that Jack Lew’s job description might include the removal of this "major impediment." So three months – give it until around April. By then we should have a clearer view of how our development world is going to get realigned under the Obama Administration and who will lead the charge.

Related Items (added on 2/20):

CRS: Foreign Aid Reform: Studies and Recommendation (Dec 2008)

CRS: Restructuring Foreign Aid: The Role of the Director of Foreign Assistance (Jun 2006)

No comments: