- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 8, 2007

President Bush has nominated the State Department’s top management officer, Henrietta H. Fore, to replace Randall Tobias, who resigned 10 days ago in a sex scandal, as director of U.S. foreign assistance, with a rank equivalent to deputy secretary of state.

In another Foggy Bottom personnel change, George M. Staples, director-general of the Foreign Service, told a senior staff meeting yesterday that he would step down at the end of July.

Mrs. Fore, a former director of the U.S. Mint, will also serve as head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), where she was assistant administrator under the first President Bush.

Although Mrs. Fore will stay at her current post as undersecretary of state for management while acting as foreign-aid chief until her Senate confirmation, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has asked Maura A. Harty, assistant secretary for consular affairs, to “assist” in the department’s management.

Mr. Tobias resigned on April 27 after admitting to having used a Washington escort service while in office.

A leading candidate to replace Mrs. Fore is Patrick Kennedy, a career Foreign Service officer who has been working closely with Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte in recent years, State Department officials said.

Mr. Kennedy just returned to the department after serving as a top aide to Mr. Negroponte when he was director of national intelligence. He also worked for Mr. Negroponte during his tenure as ambassador to the United Nations and to Iraq.

Mr. Staples’ announcement of his early retirement surprised many at Foggy Bottom, mainly because he has headed the Foreign Service for just two years. In addition, he was promoted to career minister, the second-highest rank in the service, last year and could have stayed in for another decade after that.

But some in the department said his job, which has been a daily challenge because of the difficulty of staffing hardship posts in Iraq and Afghanistan, wore him out. They said he has been under enormous pressure both from Miss Rice and fellow diplomats who resisted going to Iraq.

Last year, the State Department changed its bidding and assignment system worldwide, delaying hiring at missions in developed countries until Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other hardship posts, were filled.

Although it is too early for a replacement of Mr. Staples to be named, Mrs. Harty is considered a front-runner. She is also said to be interested in the job.

Since the beginning of the year, Miss Rice has lost her counselor, policy-planning director, undersecretaries for international security and economic affairs and assistant secretary for educational and cultural affairs.

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