Blue Chip USAID

January 20, 2011 By Christopher Williams

Yesterday, USAID Administrator Raj Shah highlighted reforms underway at USAID aimed at changing the way the U.S. does development. “The Future of American prosperity resides on the prosperity in the developing world,” Shah stated, outlining specific ways USAID is changing to be more effective and transparent. Shah called for a new “development enterprise” that approaches global poverty with the rigor of a private company. Shah stressed the importance of these programs for U.S. national security and economic prosperity, stating, “our assistance is not just from the American people, it’s also for the American people.” However, USAID won’t be able to implement this new vision without adequate resources, an issue to watch during the next few weeks as Congress must resolve the FY2011 Budget, and the President will release his FY2012 budget, expected early in the week of February 13th.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

U.S. aid chief faces Republican budget cutters (Andrew Quinn – Reuters)

Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), said administrative reforms, procurement changes and better contract management would save hundreds of millions of dollars — but only if USAID is allowed to push ahead with its plan to expand and restructure. “We’re making those hard decisions and tough changes,” Shah told Reuters in an interview, saying skeptics on Capitol Hill must be persuaded that overseas aid is an essential part of U.S. security strategy for coming decades.

Smart Power

Sudan: A Case against Cutting Investment in Diplomacy and Development (Alison Giffen – The Will and the Wallet)

The new leader of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL), is casting a negative outlook for US engagement in the world and the Administration’s QDDR implementation by promising cuts to the State Department and foreign aid. That’s certainly a tempting move in our current fiscal circumstances, especially since the diplomacy and development budget has fewer domestic constituents. Sudan, however, provides an important example of the cost of potential cutting.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Members of Congress, Reflecting U.S. Public Fears, Greet China’s Hu Coolly (Julie Davis – Bloomberg)

Members of Congress, their constituents worried about economic competition from China, are using President Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington to castigate his government and press for strong action against it. Their approach is in contrast to that of President Barack Obama, who is working to strengthen ties with the world’s second-largest economy, and highlights the political potency of criticizing China at a time of economic anxiety at home.

CEOs Ask for Deals, Not Obstacles (Laura Meckler – The Wall Street Journal)

President Barack Obama used the state visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao to send a message endorsed by Corporate America: The U.S. wants to do more business with China, despite differences over trade policy, currency and human rights. “We want to sell you planes, we want to sell you cars, we want to sell you software,” Mr. Obama said during a joint news conference with Mr. Hu, underscoring the importance of expanding commercial ties.

Sharing Chopsticks (Michael Brenner – The Huffington Post)

We are building a base network across Southwestern and Central Asia while working feverishly to suppress any forces hostile to us. We are psychologically and intellectually not ready to think seriously about the terms for sharing power with China and developing mechanisms for doing so over different time-frames. Washington is too preoccupied with parsing the naval balance in East Asia to reflect on broad strategies.