- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 19, 2006

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday announced plans to bring the U.S. Agency for International Development under the direct control of the State Department to streamline the more than $19 billion worth of foreign aid programs.

She named Randall L. Tobias, the administration’s global AIDS coordinator and a former pharmaceutical company executive, to direct U.S. foreign aid, a new position that is equivalent to deputy secretary of state and entails reporting directly to Miss Rice.

Mr. Tobias also will serve as USAID administrator and “will have authority over all State Department and USAID foreign assistance,” Miss Rice said.

“He will direct the creation of policy budgets and program implementation, and he will mobilize the foreign assistance expertise of the State Department and USAID, enabling our two agencies to work more efficiently with our many partners across the federal government,” she said.

Mr. Tobias, who will have to be confirmed by the Senate, said after Miss Rice’s announcement that the administration would promote its freedom and democracy agenda around the world “by better leveraging the strengths and the contributions of our foreign assistance institutions.”

Andrew S. Natsios, Mr. Bush’s first USAID administrator, resigned late last year to take a teaching position at Georgetown University.

Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican and chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, endorsed the nomination of Mr. Tobias, who is a former chairman and chief executive officer of AT&T; International and former chairman, president and CEO of Eli Lilly & Co., a pharmaceutical firm.

The restructuring and Mr. Tobias’ appointment were criticized as politicizing foreign assistance.

Some aid groups said there should be a firewall between foreign assistance and the administration’s political agenda. They criticized the choice of Mr. Tobias, saying he does not have sufficient experience in the field.

“It’s only recently he has been working on global aid policy, and there some real concerns over whether he will use tax dollars wisely,” said David Bryden, spokesman for the Global AIDS Alliance.

Miss Rice said the status quo of how foreign aid is administered is not acceptable.

“The current structure of America’s foreign assistance risks incoherent policies and ineffective programs and perhaps even wasted resources,” she said. “We can do better, and we must do better.”

A senior State Department official said Miss Rice had been frustrated when she took office last year to find out that “the foreign assistance money is divided into multiple accounts and that there is very inadequate coordination” among them.

Another senior official said there are 18 such accounts in the State Department and USAID.

Miss Rice said she would create advanced training courses on the subject at the Foreign Service Institute.

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