A senior Obama administration official revealed May 5 that it's the intense vetting process and not a lack of interest that is holding back the announcement of a new U.S. Agency for International Development administrator. Patience is running thin as the international development community awaits the announcement, which they are hoping will open a new chapter for U.S. foreign assistance.

Anne-Marie Slaughter, director of policy planning at the State Department, said it's the intense "post-Daschle vetting world" process that is holding back the disclosure of the proposed USAID chief. She was referring to the withdrawal of former Sen. Tom Daschle as a nominee for health and human services secretary due to tax payment issues.

Slaughter, who spoke at the recent annual conference of the Society for International Development-Washington, D.C., reassured the audience of development NGOs and contractors that the slow progress in naming the nominee was not a reflection of how the Obama administration views aid. She also discussed some of the preliminary findings of an internal review on U.S. foreign aid and how it should be reformed.

Slaughter did not give a specific time frame as to when an announcement would be made. She did say that only three high-level appointees have been confirmed at State, with over 30 more needed.

USAID was brought into the State Department under the "F" process starting in 2006. The administrator also carries the title of director of foreign assistance.

Some names speculated to be under consideration include Helen Gayle, president of CARE International; Nils Daulaire, president and CEO of the Global Health Council; and current acting administrator Alonzo Fulgham.

A name recently added to the rumor mill is Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the Global Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Prior to joining the foundation, Burwell served as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and chief of staff to former Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin in the Clinton administration.

About the author

  • Oliver Subasinghe

    Oliver joined Devex in late 2008 as an international development correspondent and researcher. He previously served as a microfinance fellow for Kiva in Kenya and Uganda. During his tenure, he worked with Kiva’s field partners to improve their operations and governance. Oliver holds a master's in business from the College of William & Mary.