January 23rd, 2009
02:07 PM ET
11 months ago

Clinton rallies troops at USAID

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Calling development and foreign assistance a "critical element" in U.S. national security, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday challenged employees of the U.S. Agency for International Development to once again earn "a global leadership role."

"I believe in development, and I believe in all my heart, and I truly believe it is an equal partner along with defense and diplomacy in furthering American national security," Clinton told a packed standing room only crowd of nearly 1,000 employees.

During her confirmation hearing Clinton promised to fight for more resources for USAID, which she said had been "decimated" under the Bush administration, with many development functions it traditionally held falling to the Pentagon.

Upon her arrival at the State Department Thursday, Clinton told members of the foreign and civil service, "There are three legs to the stool of American foreign policy: defense, diplomacy, and development. And we are responsible for two of the three legs."

One Friday Clinton drew loud cheers when she promised to provide leadership to USAID, to get it more resources.

"We are asking you to do more with less," she said. "My goal is to make sure the mission matches the resources."

But Clinton acknowledged that the agency, criticized for its massive bureaucracy, needed streamlined procedures and to "regain credibility to regain authorities and resources that have drifted elsewhere."

She noted while the Pentagon can spend money on projects easily, USAID needs to complete "miles of paperwork to spend ten cents," she said. "It is not a sensible approach."

The staff cheered Clinton as she arrived, a similar warm welcome to the one she got Thursday at State Department headquarters.

Acting administrator for USAID Kent Hill, in introducing the secretary, said the staff remembers Clinton's work as a first lady and senator on behalf of the world's poor and called the new administration "a great moment in history."

"Just as President Obama came to the State Department on his second day, it is very noticeable that on your second day you came to USAID and we appreciate it" he told her, eliciting loud applause. "We know where your heart is."


Filed under: Hillary Clinton
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. rachel

    Very very good.

    January 23, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  2. Jon in CA

    The article states, "During her confirmation hearing Clinton promised to fight for more resources for USAID.."

    Hmm... and here I thought Obama was going to magically heal the oceans, mend broken souls, and have unilateral talks with our enemies causing them to lay-down their weapons??

    Why do we need more money for USAID?

    Aren't rainbows and kittens the new approach by the Obama administration??

    January 23, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  3. Travis

    Jon in CA, Obama is the president, accept it and move on.

    January 24, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |