Madam Secretary

Clinton calls vetting for USAID job a ‘nightmare’

  Secretary Clinton yesterday revealed some of the frustration she is having with the White House when it comes to finding a director the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In a town-hall meeting with USAID employees yesterday, here’s how she described the vetting process: “The clearance and vetting process is a nightmare.” “It is frustrating beyond ...

583626_090714_USAID2.jpg

 

Secretary Clinton yesterday revealed some of the frustration she is having with the White House when it comes to finding a director the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In a town-hall meeting with USAID employees yesterday, here's how she described the vetting process:

"The clearance and vetting process is a nightmare."

USAID container, Aug. 11, 2005 | ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images  

Secretary Clinton yesterday revealed some of the frustration she is having with the White House when it comes to finding a director the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In a town-hall meeting with USAID employees yesterday, here’s how she described the vetting process:

  • “The clearance and vetting process is a nightmare.”
  • “It is frustrating beyond words.”
  • “I mean, it is ridiculous.”

Just how bad is the vetting process? Candidates have to list every foreign citizen they know (imagine how many that would be if you’re involved in international development). They have to provide details about every place they’re lived since they were 18 (once again quite onerous if you’ve globe-trotted the world). It’s to the point where candidates have to hire accountants and lawyers in some cases to meet all the financial and personal disclosure requirements.

Clinton said several people had declined the job due to the overwhelming vetting process.

Understandably, candidates should be carefully vetted, but this is over the top. We’re nearly half a year into the Obama administration. The White House even declined Clinton’s request to say that someone would be nominated soon. “The message came back: We’re not ready,” Clinton told the audience.

The “smart power”/”soft power” work of USAID is supposed to be critical to creating stability in troubled areas such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Well, it doesn’t seem so “smart” to keep an important U.S. agency leaderless for so long.

Photo: ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP

More from Foreign Policy

Volker Perthes, U.N. special representative for Sudan, addresses the media in Khartoum, Sudan, on Jan. 10.

Sudan’s Future Hangs in the Balance

Demonstrators find themselves at odds with key U.N. and U.S. mediators.

In an aerial view, traffic creeps along Virginia Highway 1 after being diverted away from Interstate 95 after it was closed due to a winter storm.

Traffic Jams Are a Very American Disaster

The I-95 backup shows how easily highways can become traps.

Relatives and neighbors gather around a burned vehicle targeted and hit by an American drone strike in Kabul.

The Human Rights vs. National Security Dilemma Is a Fallacy

Advocacy organizations can’t protect human rights without challenging U.S. military support for tyrants and the corrupt influence of the defense industry and foreign governments.

un-sanctions-inspectors-china-foreign-policy-illustration

The Problem With Sanctions

From the White House to Turtle Bay, sanctions have never been more popular. But why are they so hard to make work?