Rice Nominates Tobias To Be Administrator of USAID, Foreign Assistance Director; Restructuring Questioned by Some Staff, Advocates
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Thursday nominated Randall Tobias to be the new administrator of USAID, as well as director of foreign assistance at the State Department, a new position that will oversee all U.S. foreign aid programs, the Washington Post reports (Graham/Kessler, Washington Post, 1/20). Tobias, former CEO of Eli Lilly and current head of the State Department's Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, would have a rank equal to that of deputy secretary of state and a planning staff at the State Department. Although the restructuring does not merge USAID and other State Department programs, the move is meant to bring USAID closer to the department, officials said (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/19). In a "town-hall-style" meeting on Thursday, Rice met with USAID employees to address concerns over the restructuring (Washington Post, 1/20). According to the Boston Globe, an unnamed USAID employee said his colleagues wanted to "revolt" over the new plan because many officials at USAID do not want to work more closely with military or politically-motivated officials. However, the unnamed employee defended the restructuring, saying that aid workers' abilities to determine their own agenda when dealing with foreign aid is "a peacetime luxury," and the U.S. is "a country at war." Some HIV/AIDS advocates criticized Tobias' nomination, saying he has favored abstinence-only HIV prevention programs and has not favored inclusion of generic drugs for HIV/AIDS treatment in developing countries. James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, said, "Under [Tobias'] direction, HIV prevention programs have shifted from being based in public health science to being dictated by the abstinence-only-until-marriage ideology of the Bush administration" (Stockman, Boston Globe, 1/20). The Senate must confirm both Tobias' nomination and the restructuring of the foreign aid oversight before they become official, the AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports (Schweid, AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 1/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.