Rajiv Shah, the newly confirmed head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, will report directly to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the country's top diplomat indicated earlier this month.
Shah was confirmed on Dec. 24, the Senate's last day in session this year.
Clinton spoke about Shah's role in overhauling U.S. foreign assistance at a Dec. 7 gala organized by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. She said Shah would have a "seat at the table" as the Obama administration revamps its diverse aid operations, which are undertaken by a variety of agencies and offices including USAID, the State Department and, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Defense Department.
The degree to which Shah, 36, will be able to shape policy remains to be seen. But after a year-long wait, U.S. development professionals will surely be glad for the leadership vacuum to be filled. Remaining top USAID vacancies are expected to be filled in short order.
With Shah and Daniel W. Yohannes, who assumed his role as Millennium Challenge Corp. CEO in early December, the two top U.S. aid agencies now have confirmed leaders. Just in time: The Obama administration is finalizing a review of U.S. global development operations as the State Department wraps up its Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. Foreign aid reforms may finally take shape in 2011.