The White House will name a new U.S. Agency for International Development chief "in fairly short order," a key Senate source predicts weeks after urging the Obama administration to hurry up with its foreign aid nominations.

Last month, Senate Foreign Relations Committee leaders urged President Obama to nominate a USAID administrator promptly to advance U.S. development goals and foreign assistance reform.

"Not only does U.S. development lack clear leadership at the top, but increasingly we believe that key development voices are being shut out of major policy decisions and interagency processes," Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Richard Lugar (R-IA) said in a Sept. 18 letter to the White House. "USAID and its development perspective are conspicuously absent from our most significant foreign policy challenges in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq."

Kerry and Lugar are pushing reforms of a key law governing U.S. international aid, the Foreign Assistance Act.

The senators have received no official response to their letter, according to Tomeika Bowden, press secretary for the Democratic majority on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is chaired by Kerry. The aide suggested, however, that someone will be named "in fairly short order to the post."

"Given how long the legislative process takes, we believe we will have an administrator before passage" of the Lugar/Kerry bill Bowden said. "We have made a push for pre-vetted candidates to be considered, but we have not heard anything further."

Two administrative reviews of U.S. development policy are currently underway: the Presidential Study Directive and the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. The findings are not expected until late this year; outcomes could determine USAID's role as part of broader U.S. efforts to reduce poverty, spur international development and secure peace.

Meanwhile, debate on the fiscal 2010 international affairs budget has stalled, and a continuing resolution appears imminent.

About the author

  • Moria Byrne

    Moria joined Devex's Washington bureau in September 2009 as an international development correspondent fellow. She is a communications specialist with a background in international development public relations, publishing, education and journalism. Moria has worked for Catholic Relief Services and, as a Peace Corps volunteer, lived in the Philippines for two years.