Photo from USAID
Secretary Clinton was at the Ronald Reagan Building today for the swearing in of the new USAID Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah (January 7, 2010 | 1:30 pm EST). Excerpt below from her statement:
I know it’s been a long wait to have a new Administrator named, and it took even longer to get him confirmed and sworn in, but it has been worth the wait, because in Dr. Raj Shah, we have a passionate, visionary, experienced development expert at the helm. And I am so thrilled that he will provide the leadership that is needed today as we not only work in partnership on so many of the issues that we care deeply about, but that we continue to elevate the role of development in our foreign policy.
Yesterday, I was privileged to give a speech that I had been waiting to give until we had an Administrator – so I was especially pleased that that day came – in which we outlined our new approach to development, our commitment to rebuilding AID as the premier development agency in the world, bar none. (Applause.) When I finished my speech, someone came up and whispered to me, “Does Raj know what he’s getting into – (laughter) – how much work he has ahead of him?” I said, oh, he totally gets it, and he is more than ready.
There is no doubt that we are going to be taking on an enormous agenda. But we don’t have a choice. We’re working on major initiatives on food security and global health, we’re pursuing new ways and making a greater commitment to women and girls, we’re expanding partnerships not only with governments and multilateral institutions, but with the private sector, the NGOs and civil society and the faith community. And we’re undertaking the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review through the State Department and USAID. Alonzo has been co-chairing that. Raj will now co-chair it.
I believe Dr. Raj Shah will be the transformational leader that USAID has been waiting for. One only needs to ask his wife Shivam the lengths to which Raj will go to achieve important goals. After all, this is a man who flew to India for one day to propose to her at the Taj Mahal when she was traveling there alone. (Laughter.) This is also a man – (applause) – who summated the 14,400-foot Mount Rainier, one of the most difficult climbs in the continental United States. And it combines the challenges of an unforgiving glacier with the unpredictability of an active volcano. That may be the best preparation Raj has for working in Washington these days. (Laughter.)
Read the full text of Secretary Clinton’s statement at the swearing-in ceremony here. Dr. Shah’s statement is also here.
Why is the Secretary of State swearing-in the head of an independent agency? Although USAID is an independent federal government agency, it receives overall foreign policy guidance from the Secretary of State.
Dr. Shah’s swearing in by Secretary Clinton does have some precedence. When Andrew Natsios became USAID Administrator in May 2001, he was sworn-in by Secretary Colin Powell. Henrietta Fore, Dr. Shah’s most recent predecessor became the 15th Administrator on December 2007. She was sworn-in by Secretary Rice. Natsios was USAID Administrator prior to the creation of the "F" bureau. Fore was USAID director after the creation of the "F" bureau and she served concurrently as the second Director of Foreign Assistance. It is perhaps telling that the new USAID Administrator has not been identified as also director of the "F" bureau. If the USAID Administrator is not the Director of Foreign Assistance in the DOS structure, then who is?