The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
As members of InterAction, the largest coalition of US-based international development and humanitarian NGOs, we are writing to express our very serious concerns about the number of vacancies at the top levels of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). While we commend you for your commitment to strengthening USAID and its capacity to lead the U.S. government’s foreign aid work, we are concerned about the continuing staffing delays at the agency’s highest levels.
At a time when the U.S. government faces complex humanitarian and development challenges overseas, it is imperative that the administration expedite the appointment of experienced professionals to help USAID lead these efforts. From the Haiti and Chile earthquakes to the prioritization of assistance for Pakistan, USAID has been engaged in a multitude of major US government responses and initiatives without the benefit of appointed leadership for relevant USAID bureaus and offices.
For example, the administration should make it a priority to nominate and appoint an Assistant Administrator of the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Affairs (DCHA) as well as a Director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA). Both OFDA and its parent bureau, DCHA, are key components of the U.S. government’s international disaster response efforts.
We commend the hard work of career civil service and Foreign Service staff who are leading the DCHA bureau and its related offices like OFDA in the absence of political leadership.
Each new administration is responsible for selecting and appointing qualified individuals to serve and lead in these posts – career agency staff look to these appointees for guidance and leadership that is consistent with the priorities of the administration. The position of OFDA Director has been vacant since January 2009 and does not require Senate confirmation so we hope the administration will make this appointment soon. As the lead office responsible for overseas disaster response, it should be a major priority of any administration to fill this position as soon as possible.
Furthermore, as the State Department-USAID Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) proceeds, a process expected to conclude this summer, we believe USAID’s participation would be more significant if a majority of the vacancies could be filled in order to allow stronger USAID engagement before the completion of the QDDR. The shortage of high level staff at USAID could raise questions about the credibility of this process and its outcome.
In addition, 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.
We strongly urge you to announce nominees for all outstanding USAID Assistant Administrator positions by the end of June.
|Action Against Hunger
Adventist Development and
Relief Agency International
American Jewish World Service
American Refugee Committee
Americas Relief Team
Centre for Development & Population
Center for Health & Gender Equity
Church World Service
Florida Association for Volunteer Action
in the Caribbean and the
Food for the Hungry
Helen Keller International
Institute for Sustainable Communities
International Center for Religion
International Center for Research
International Foundation for
|International Housing Coalition
International Medical Corps
International Medical Health
International Relief & Development
International Rescue Committee
Joint Aid Management USA
Management Sciences for Health
Population Action International
Save the Children
The Alliance to End Hunger
The Hunger Project
United Methodist Committee on Relief
Water Aid America
CC: Administrator Rajiv Shah, United States Agency for International Development
CC: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, United States Department of State