Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, continuing a bureaucratic shake-up, is reorganizing the United States' foreign aid apparatus. She is creating what amounts to an overseas assistance official within the State Department.
Secretary Rice is stopping short of folding the independent U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, into the State Department.
But she is giving the new head of that agency the concurrent title of Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance, with an office in the State Department, in an effort to end what is seen as a lack of structure and accountability in America's nearly $20 billion a year overseas aid effort.
The secretary of state made the announcement in the second phase of a broad restructuring of the U.S. diplomatic corps that she has termed transformational diplomacy, emphasizing democracy building and market economics.
She is naming former business executive and the outgoing chief of the Bush administration's global anti-HIV/AIDS program, Randall Tobias, to be the new foreign aid director, who will have the rank of deputy secretary of state.
Rice said the move will create a more unified and rational leadership structure over U.S. aid efforts which are spread across many agencies in addition to the State Department and USAID.
She said it will focus U.S. foreign assistance on promoting greater ownership and responsibility for recipient countries and their citizens.
"Our foreign assistance must help people get results. The resources we commit must empower developing countries to strengthen security, to consolidate democracy, to increase trade and investment, and to improve the lives of their people," she said. "America's foreign assistance must promote responsible sovereignty, not permanent dependency."
There had been reports that the secretary wanted to scrap USAID, independent since its creation 1961, and fold it into the State Department. But that would have required legislation and a possible battle with agency supporters in Congress.
The foreign aid shakeup came only a day after Rice announced a redeployment of U.S. overseas diplomats from a Cold War-era focus on Europe to the developing world and emerging powers in Asia.
She told the foreign aid gathering that action will require new skills and career paths for the 6,400 strong U.S. diplomatic corps.
"We are forward-deploying our people to the cities and countries and regions where they are needed most. We are moving our diplomats from Europe and Washington to critical countries like China and India and South Africa and Indonesia. We are giving more of our people new training and language skills to engage directly with foreign peoples," she said. "And we are empowering our diplomats to work more jointly with America's service men and women."
The secretary served notice that diplomats cannot expect to be promoted to senior levels unless they have served in hardship and dangerous posts and are fluent in two foreign languages, citing Chinese, Arabic and Urdu as preferred examples.
About 100 State Department jobs in Washington and Europe are immediately being shifted to embassies in new priority countries, and officials say more than 2,000 positions will eventually be affected.