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Event Summary

On Wednesday afternoon, AEI and the Center for American Progress (CAP) hosted the head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Dr. Rajiv Shah, who discussed the results of the 2013 USAID Forward Progress Report. Dr. Shah’s keynote address iterated that US stability will be determined not only by military might, but by economic partnerships. He argued that the US needs one cohesive vision of development that is capable of meeting the challenges of our time.

John Norris of CAP noted that USAID has been traditionally bullied as an agency. The US Congress has had zero tolerance for USAID’s failure, which is paradoxical considering that innovation itself has a high rate of failure. Dr. Shah responded that aid and assistance should not just be providing “stuff” that we know is necessary, but building the kinds of innovation partnerships that can move developing countries from simply providing aid to promoting self-sufficiency over time.

Dr. Shah concluded that USAID’s overarching development objective is to deliver clear and compelling results, creating conditions under which aid is no longer necessary. AEI’s Gary Schmitt recommended that over the long term, the agency should be cognizant that short-term concerns will continue to play a major role in international development policies.

–Alex Della Rocchetta

Event Description

The future of international development has long been debated inside the Beltway. While there is broad agreement that foreign assistance programs are essential for national security and economic prosperity, there has been a call for programs to be more effective, accountable, and transparent.

Join AEI and the Center for American Progress for a joint event featuring Dr. Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), with a conversation on the role of international development and the reforms needed to achieve results.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


1:45 PM

2:00 PM
Dr. Rajiv Shah, US Agency for International Development

John Norris, Center for American Progress
Gary Schmitt, AEI

3:00 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Alex Della Rocchetta at [email protected], 202.862.7152.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

John Norris is the executive director of the Sustainable Security and Peacebuilding Initiative at the Center for American Progress (CAP). Norris previously served as the executive director of the Enough Project at CAP. He was the chief of political affairs for the United Nations Mission in Nepal as that country tried to emerge from a decade-long war. Previously, Norris served as the Washington chief of staff for the International Crisis Group, conducting extensive field work and senior-level advocacy for resolving conflicts in South Asia, Africa, and the Balkans. Earlier in his career, he served as the director of communications for former US deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott. He also worked as a speechwriter and field disaster expert at the US Agency for International Development. Norris is the author of several books, including “The Disaster Gypsies: Humanitarian Workers in the World’s Deadliest Conflicts” (Praeger, 2007), a memoir of his work in the field of emergency relief, and “Collision Course: NATO, Russia and Kosovo” (Praeger, 2005). He has published commentary in The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere.

Gary J. Schmitt
is codirector of the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies and director of the Program on American Citizenship at AEI. Schmitt is a former staff director of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. During former president Ronald Reagan’s second term, he was the executive director of the president’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. Schmitt’s work focuses on long-term US strategic security issues both in the domestic and international spheres. He has been a contributing author and co-editor of a variety of books, including “Safety, Liberty, and Islamist Terrorism: American and European Approaches to Domestic Counterterrorism” (AEI Press, 2010), “The Rise of China: Essays on the Future Competition” (Encounter Books, 2009), and “Of Men and Materiel: The Crisis in Military Resources” (AEI Press, 2007).

Dr. Rajiv Shah serves as the 16th Administrator of US Agency for International Development (USAID) and leads the efforts of more than 8,000 professionals in 80 missions around the world. Since being sworn in on December 31, 2009, Shah managed the US government’s response to the devastating 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti; cochaired the US Department of State’s first review of American diplomacy and development operations; and now spearheads President Obama’s landmark Feed the Future food-security initiative. He is also leading “USAID Forward,” an extensive set of reforms to USAID’s business model focusing on seven key areas, including procurement, science and technology, and monitoring and evaluation. Before becoming USAID’s administrator, Shah served as undersecretary for research, education, and economics, and as chief scientist at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). At USDA, he launched the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which significantly elevated the status and funding of agricultural research. Before joining the Obama administration, Shah served for seven years with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, including as director of agricultural development in the Global Development Program, and as director of strategic opportunities.

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