The United States Agency for International Development will have a new chief of staff on Monday. William “Bill” Steiger, who led U.S. engagement with a number of international health initiatives during the George W. Bush administration, will take over the post according to a staff newsletter seen by Devex.
Steiger is well-connected and well-known among global health and development professionals. He is the godson of former President George H.W. Bush, and his father was a U.S. representative who employed former Vice President Dick Cheney as an intern.
Steiger was part of the Trump administration’s “beachhead team” at the State Department, helping to aid in the transition before political personnel are appointed.
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He was appointed special assistant to the secretary and director of the Office of Global Health Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2001. As special assistant, he represented the secretary of health and human services at multilateral health initiatives including the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Steiger also served as the department’s liaison to the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, which implements PEPFAR — the HIV/AIDS initiative created by President Bush.
Todd Summers, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who worked with Steiger at the Global Fund, described him as “brilliant,” with an “underlying command of facts,” while noting that he could also be very “direct, often blunt.”
“He has a long-standing commitment to global health, and hopefully an ability to help others see the value of related U.S. investments,” Summers wrote to Devex by email.
During his Bush administration tenure, Steiger was the subject of some controversy over the place of politics in public health. A Washington Post article alleged that Steiger suppressed the publication of a surgeon general’s report because it did not promote Bush administration accomplishments. In a confirmation hearing Steiger denied that account.
During the transition, Steiger had been on leave from his position as chief program officer at Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, an organization affiliated with the George W. Bush Institute, which works to reduce deaths from cervical cancer and breast cancer in low- and middle-income countries.