Obama Urged to Fill Top USAID Vacancies

A USAID worker inspects relief supplies for Georgia. The lack of senior staffing at the agency worries members of InterAction network. Photo by: Ricky A. Bloom

Staffing gaps may undermine the U.S. Agency for International Development’s ability to influence the two ongoing reviews of U.S. development policy, a coalition of U.S.-based development and humanitarian organizations suggests.

In a June 2 open letter to U.S. President Obama, members of the InterAction network expressed their “very serious concern” over the number of top-level vacancies at USAID. These include the positions of assistant administrator of the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Affairs and director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance.

“It is essential that senior political appointees be nominated and confirmed as soon as possible so that the agency can be appropriately and meaningfully represented in interagency deliberations on the design and implementation of the new presidential initiatives, specifically the Global Health Initiative and the hunger and food security initiative,” InterAction, an NGO membership organization, writes.

InterAction members encouraged Obama to announce nominees for all vacant USAID assistant administrators by the end of June.

The director position at the disaster assistance office, which has been vacant since January 2009, seems especially important, according to The Cable blogger Josh Rogin. The person would be directly involved in U.S. disaster response operations and there are several disasters around the world that needs attention, Rogin writes in his blog.

Rogin further notes that the OFDB director job does not require Senate confirmation, which he says is the conventional reasons for delays in appointments.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.