Rajiv Shah in the House

March 3, 2010 By Hannah Kaye

On Wednesday, March 3, USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah appeared before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to discuss the FY11 International Affairs Budget request. Members of the committee praised Shah for his leadership during the Haiti crisis and other USAID efforts, and Shah outlined top priorities for USAID in the days ahead. In his opening statement, Chairman Berman stated that, “Done right, development assistance is a sound investment in a better, safer world.” He also reminded committee members that, “Secretary Clinton has rightfully identified diplomacy and development as two key pillars of our national security, along with defense.  We make it a priority to reduce poverty and alleviate human suffering around the world because it is the morally right thing to do and because it reflects the compassion and generosity of the American people.  But foreign assistance programs also serve our economic and national security interests.”

During the question and answer session, Shah had opportunities to discuss the three priority areas for USAID in FY11: securing frontline states, meeting urgent global challenges, and enhancing aid effectiveness and sustainability. USAID will focus on major initiatives, like global health, food security, and climate change, and draw on new technologies, public-private partnerships, principles of country ownership, and other approaches to achieve lasting progress. Rebuilding the capacity of USAID to carry out these initiatives is also a priority for Shah and USAID, including spurring increases in the number of personnel in the agency, new approaches to policy planning and budgeting, and strengthened monitoring, evaluation, and accountability of programs. After Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA) emphasized that the “lead development agency has to be USAID, not the State Department,” Shah assured him that now is a “unique time to rebuild USAID” and ensure that the discipline of development is present in assistance programs across the government.

Read Rep. Berman’s Press Statement on the Hearing here.