Officially In: Dr. Rajiv Shah to USAID

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On November 10, President Obama nominated Dr. Rajiv Shah as Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).


President Obama
said, “The mission of USAID is to advance America’s interests by strengthening our relationships abroad. Rajiv brings fresh ideas and the dedication and impressive background necessary to help guide USAID as it works to achieve this important goal. I am grateful for all that USAID has accomplished under the leadership of Acting Administrator Alonzo Fulgham, and the thousands of career men and women who fulfill USAID’s mission day in and day out – particularly their hard work in jumpstarting a landmark initiative to bring more than $20 billion for agriculture development to the world’s most food-insecure countries. I look forward to working with Rajiv in the months and years ahead.”


The WH released the following official bio below:

Dr. Rajiv Shah currently serves as Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics and Chief Scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He manages the Agricultural Research Service, the Economic Research Service, the National Agricultural Statistical Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. He is responsible for managing more than 10,000 staff worldwide including 2,200 federal scientists and a budget of more than $2.6 billion. He also leads the Department’s participation in President Obama’s global food security initiative. In his tenure at USDA, Dr. Shah launched the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) – a new scientific institute created to elevate and enhance the capacity of agricultural research to address sustainable food production, climate change, bioenergy and human nutrition.

Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Dr. Shah served as the Director for Agricultural Development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Previously, Dr. Shah served as the foundation’s first Director for Financial Services to the Poor and led the Strategic Opportunities initiative through which he worked with foundation co-chairs to identify, assess and recommend new areas of giving.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Dr. Shah worked on health care policy for the Gore 2000 presidential campaign and served as a member of Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell’s transition committee on health. He is a co-founder of Health Systems Analytics and Project IMPACT for South Asian Americans. In addition, he has served as a policy aide in the British Parliament and worked at the World Health Organization.

Dr. Shah earned his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and his Master of Science in health economics at the Wharton School of Business. He has attended the London School of Economics, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.

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Also on November 10, the WH sent Dr. Shah’s nomination to the Senate. The U.S. Senate last confirmed him for the USDA position on May 12. I expect that this nomination would quickly sail through the confirmation process in the Senate, except that one never knows when a Senator might pull a stunt over there. If confirmed, Dr. Shah would succeed Henrietta Holsman Fore as Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). He would only be the 16th USAID Administrator since the agency’s inception in 1961.

But what about “F” bureau? “F” says that the Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance (DFA) is charged with directing the transformation of the U.S. Government approach to foreign assistance. The Director holds a rank equivalent to Deputy Secretary and serves concurrently as USAID Administrator, ensuring that foreign assistance is used as effectively as possible to meet broad foreign policy objectives.


Randall Tobias
was the first United States Director of Foreign Assistance, and served concurrently as the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), with the rank of Ambassador. He resigned after being linked to a D.C. escort service in 2007. He was replaced by Henrietta Fore who was appointed USAID Administrator by President Bush in 2007. In that capacity, she was concurrently designated by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as the Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance.

Secretary Clinton’s statement on this nomination is here. There is no mention of “F” anywhere. If Dr. Shah is also designated as “F,” he would only be the third director of US Foreign Assistance in State Department history. If these two positions are decoupled, then who would be “F” is the next question.

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USDA Official Rajiv Shah to USAID?


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