As the entire development
community was trying to gauge the impact of the ascension of Rajiv Shah to the top position at the
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the nominee himself gave the
most detailed look yet into his intellectual identity as he gets ready to step
into the fray.
In a long list of detailed
answers to questions submitted in advance of his Senate Foreign Relations
Committee testimony Tuesday, Shah weighed in on a number of substantive issues
while deferring to the ongoing reviews at both State and the NSC when it came
to matters related to the structure of USAID and its relationship with the
report to directly to Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton, not Deputy Secretary of State Jack
Lew, he wrote in the answers,
obtained by The Cable. But it's not yet determined if he will have
control over the "F bureau" at State, 60 percent of which is staffed by USAID
personnel, he said. That will be determined by State's ongoing Quadrennial
Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) and the NSC's Presidential Study
Directive on Global Engagement (PSD-7).
Regardless, Shah wrote that
he believes USAID needs the capacity to plan budgetary requirements and monitor
and evaluate performance, a reference to the restoration of an intellectual
brain trust inside the agency following the gutting of such capabilities under
the Bush administration.
Insiders tell The Cable
that the PSD will recommend that USAID once again have a policy-planning staff,
but that actual control over funds will likely not be returned to the agency,
remaining under the control of State, specifically in Lew's shop.
"It is critical that we
rebuild all types of capacity at USAID, including policy expertise," Shah wrote
to the committee. "I believe USAID must be able to inform policy decisions,
develop strategies, and implement programs effectively and efficiently."
Shah said he believes the secretary
of state should be the link to the Office of Management and Budget, with input
from USAID. He did not comment on whether USAID should have a seat at the table
at high-level meetings such as principals meetings, deputy meetings, and NSC
meetings, deferring to the PSD and the QDDR.
Shah said he will cochair
the QDDR and represent USAID in the PSD, if confirmed.
The PSD process is said to
be well ahead of the QDDR in terms of progress. According to sources briefed on
the status, the PSD will be near complete by the end of the year. The process was
extended by a number of weeks to allow Shah time to get briefed up and then
make his own contributions to the process, these sources said.
The QDDR, however, is not
expected to be complete until summer or fall 2010. Interim results could be
released early next year, but there is a sense that State is looking towards
the formation of the fiscal 2012 budget rather than trying to focus on the
fiscal 2011 budget, which is being developed now. Critics of that approach fear
that State is too slow in forming its plans for reorganization, resulting in a
risk that State will be relatively weaker than other government actors if
battles over certain related issues can't wait until State gets the QDDR
At the start of Shah's
confirmation hearing, committee Chairman John
Kerry, D-MA, tried to pin down Shah on what he thought about how USAID
should be linked to State, but Shah declined to weigh in.
"This is part of a larger
struggle over the shape and direction of our country's global development
efforts," Kerry said. "Our aid program is in need of a course correction."
Ranking Republican Richard Lugar, R-IN, asked Shah what
could be done in the near term to fix USAID, which Lugar said has been
suffering a long decline.
"I believe quite a lot can happen immediately,"
Shah said, stating that policy planning and other intellectual functions such
as improving evaluation of programs can be improved sooner rather than later.
File photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images