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Need ‘Strong’ USAID Administrator, ‘Robust’ Agency, Lugar Says In Letter To The Editor

In response to an article examining USAID’s prospects, Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) writes in a Washington Post letter to the editor that the agency’s “institutional atrophy and loss of expertise” has resulted in a “proliferation of aid programs across the government with little coordination or a common framework to evaluate what works and what doesn’t.”

According to Lugar, “Without a more robust aid agency, President Obama’s pledge to double foreign assistance would be like adding a third story to a house that had a crumbling foundation.” He writes that recent legislation he introduced, along with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to reform foreign aid would “give USAID the lead role in coordinating American foreign assistance activities in the field, create a comprehensive system to evaluate successes and failures, reestablish a policy and strategic planning bureau within the agency, and strengthen personnel.”

Lugar concludes that without a “strong administrator, USAID’s voice will be lost in the current interagency debate” (Lugar, 8/9).  

In related coverage, Boston Globe‘s “Worldly Boston” blog examines the recent news that Paul Farmer is no longer being considered for the USAID administrator position. According to the blog, “there’s no clarity whether Farmer is still in the running, or, if he did pull out, whether it was because he became fed up with the bureaucratic infighting that was already engulfing him, or whether something had arisen in the vetting that made the Obama Administration decide it wouldn’t be worth the resulting Senate confirmation battle. Or some other reason” (Smith, 8/7). 

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.