You are on page 1of 2

To: President-elect Barack Obama

Re: Historic Opportunity to Strengthen the U.S. Foreign Policy Toolbox

From: Samuel A. Worthington, President & CEO, InterAction

Your Administration has the extraordinary opportunity to strengthen the United States
foreign policy toolbox by updating foreign assistance and bringing it into the 21st Century.
Your stated support for improving U.S. foreign assistance, matched with the potency of
your newly nominated national security team, and the work of House Foreign Affairs
Committee Chairman Howard Berman could realistically lead to the first total overhaul
and reorganization of our foreign assistance structure since its incarnation in 1961.
Please consider the following four points as you continue to shape your Cabinet.

First, nominate a highly respected individual to be Administrator of the United
States Agency for International Development (USAID). Consider elevating this
appointee to serve as an integral member of your National Security Team along with the
re-elevated U.N. Ambassador and department Secretaries. This would demonstrate a
commitment to adding a strong development arm to our national security apparatus.
USAID, like State and Defense, has staff deployed overseas in war zones and other
post-crisis environments conducting critical development work.

The USAID nominee should meet the following qualifications:

1) Be a visionary. The nominee must be able to shape U.S. government thinking on
foreign assistance in a way that is much broader than just USAID. S/he must be able
to communicate new ideas and lead an effort to engage interested parties in building
a new foreign assistance apparatus in partnership with the National Security Council
and Congress. And after identifying management hurdles, the nominee must clearly
articulate a forward thinking vision to USAID staff, the Executive Branch, and
Congress. This new plan should include a strong focus on the issues of personnel
and technology, areas where USAID has been marginalized in the past.
2) Possess credibility and have great stature. The nominee must be someone in
whom you have great confidence. S/he should possess such a stature that the
nomination sends a clear message to the world about how critical international
development is to the health of our foreign policy and our national security
apparatus. The nominee must also be someone who is viewed as a partner to the
Secretary of State.
3) Have exemplary management experience. The nominee needs to have sufficient
prior experience with managing large organizational transitions to successfully
influence a wide variety of audiences, including Congress, Executive Branch, State
and Defense Department Secretaries, and the broad community involved with
assistance.
4) Share your worldview. The nominee must share your world view and understand
the enormous potential that U.S. foreign assistance has to both support U.S. national
security and to improve lives in the developing world. S/he must be someone who
understands the power and impact of development assistance. In addition, the
nominee must be able to speak candidly with you on foreign assistance and
development matters and have full access to the White House, attending all
meetings with foreign policy principals.

Second, as you reorganize the National Security Council, appoint a National
Security Deputy for Stabilization and Development. By including a new Deputy
Security Advisor for Stabilization and Development, you would effectively raise the
profile of foreign assistance in the day-to-day policy deliberations of your National
Security Council. The new advisor would lead a government-wide effort to develop a
National Development Strategy with your nominees for State, Defense and USAID. The
strategy would clearly identify the goal of all U.S. foreign assistance and recommend
necessary streamlining of foreign assistance programming for desired effectiveness and
impact overseas.

Third, direct the USAID Administrator and the Deputy Security Advisor to
promptly complete an inventory of the U.S. foreign assistance and development
portfolio. This task would include programs at the departments of Defense, State,
Treasury, and Commerce, along with USAID, the Millennium Challenge Corporation
(MCC), Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC), the Trade and Development
Agency (TDA), the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and the African
Development Foundation. The overarching goal would be to assess and evaluate the
numerous programs, identify duplication and overlap of missions, and determine gaps in
delivery.

Fourth, charge the Deputy Security Advisor and the USAID Administrator with
leading a government-wide National Global Development Strategy process to
articulate our national priorities in development and frame an operational
structure to achieve these goals. Through such a process, your Administration would
send a clear signal that it is engaged and supportive of a robust and efficient U.S.
foreign assistance program, and in turn support Chairman Howard Berman’s effort to
overhaul the woefully outdated 1961 Foreign Assistance Authorization Act.

Never before has there been such a clear understanding of the challenges facing U.S.
foreign assistance. With the leadership in the executive and legislative branches now in
place to address these complex problems, we urge you to take the opportunity.