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USAID Administrator Hearing Begins

Ahead of a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Tuesday, Rajiv Shah, President Barack Obama’s nominee for USAID administrator, submitted “a long list of detailed answers to questions” and “weighed in on a number of substantive issues while deferring to the ongoing reviews at both State and the [National Security Council] NSC when it came to matters related to the structure of USAID and its relationship with the State Department,” Foreign Policy’s blog “The Cable” reports.

According to the blog, Shah will report “directly to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,” but the exact scope of his power is still subject to the State Department’s “ongoing Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) and the NSC’s Presidential Study Directive on Global Engagement (PSD-7).” In the answers, which are available for download on the blog, “Shah wrote that he believes USAID needs the capacity to plan budgetary requirements and monitor and evaluate performance…”

At the hearing, “Ranking Republican Richard Lugar, [R-Ind.], asked Shah what could be done in the near term to fix USAID … ‘I believe quite a lot can happen immediately,’ Shah said, stating that policy planning and other intellectual functions such as improving evaluation of programs can be improved sooner rather than later,” according to “The Cable.” The blog includes comments from Committee Chair Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and further information about the QDDR and PSD-7 (Rogin, 12/1). 

Reuters’ “Front Row Washington” blog reports: “Shah, 36, appeared to enjoy strong bipartisan support for his job as the head of a U.S. foreign aid apparatus.” According to the blog, Shah’s “confirmation looked all but assured given the warm tone of his hearing” (Quinn, 12/1). 

Federal News Radio features an audio clip of the hearing. The news service also has an audio interview with Jamie Zimmerman, the New America Foundation’s director of the global assets project. The interview covers a range of topics related to the hearing and USAID (Rose, 12/1). Full text of Shah’s testimony and opening statements from Kerry and Lugar are available on the committee’s Web site (12/1).

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