Rajiv Shah: America’s Next Top USAID Administrator

November 10, 2009 | Last updated: July 31, 2020

Laura Rozen breaks the news: Rajiv Shah, the Department of Agriculture’s undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics, is going to head the U.S. Agency for International Development, which has gone leaderless since the start of the Obama administration. They’ve got to move fast to get Shah in the post. My understanding is that the acting administrator, Alonzo Fulgham, can only serve in this temporary capacity for a little while longer. Josh Rogin adds that Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is anxious to move fast with Shah’s confirmation hearing:

“It’s terrific, we’ll move forward as soon as we can, I hope weeks,” Kerry said. He said he wasn’t aware of any objections on the Republican side. Kerry will meet with Shah in the coming days, he said.

It’s not obvious to me what Shah’s credentials are, but as Josh notes, the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network, a development-policy group, is firmly on board. I got a press release from them earlier this afternoon:

We applaud the reported nomination of Dr. Rajiv Shah to be Administrator for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). We are hopeful that his unique combination of knowledge about global health, agriculture, and other issues will allow him to provide a strong and indispensable development voice as major decisions are made about U.S. foreign policy. Congress should confirm Dr. Shah quickly.

MFAN wants to give the next USAID administrator a seat on the National Security Council. My question: what happens to USAID if Stuart Bowen’s USOCO proposal goes forward?