September 18, 2009
The Obama administration "has yet to announce a candidate to head" USAID, despite the talk "about how super-important foreign assistance is these days," columnist Al Kamen writes in a Washington Post opinion piece examining the vacant USAID administrator position.
According to Kamen, "there's an increasing feeling in the foreign aid community that the leadership required to rescue a long-sinking ship is not going to be easy to find." He points out that "unless a nomination goes to the Hill in the next few weeks," the agency could "be without an administrator at the end of the first year of Obama's presidency."
Kamen writes that the "international aid community is so desperate for someone to run USAID that top aid groups are holding their own poll ... listing 20 possibilities. A week into the poll, Nancy Birdsall, president of the Center for Global Development and formerly at the World Bank, is leading with 15 percent of the vote." Many of the aid groups' proposed candidates "tend toward the wonky -- long on aid expertise but short on the political heft and stature to lift AID to some modicum of functionality. But desperate times require creative solutions," he writes before making some tongue-in-cheek candidate suggestions (Kamen, 9/16).