By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 2, 2005 3:09 PM
Andrew S. Natsios, the long-time chief of the U.S. Agency for International Development, announced today he was resigning to join Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.
Natsios and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice informed USAID staff about Natsios's decision this morning.
Natsios traveled widely and oversees an agency that oversees the distribution of about $9 billion in planned development aid -- and an additional $3 billion in emergency aid to cope with earthquakes, tsunamis and other disasters. But some critics have said he has allowed USAID to be shoved aside from its central role in development as the administration created a new program, known as the millennium challenge accounts, that aids countries that meet certain political and economic goals.
"This is very bittersweet for me personally and for the United States government," Rice said, announcing the resignation. "I wish he'd gone on for another three-and-a-half [years] . . . because I've rarely had a better colleague than Andrew Natsios, and the United States government has few people who have been such leaders, leaders in reform, leaders in challenge." Rice said Natsios had had a "tremendous impact."
Natsios said the offer from Georgetown, where he and his son attended, was "too tempting for me."
Jim Wilkinson, senior adviser to Rice, said she tried to convince Natsios to stay. "Administrator Natsios has been an aggressive reformer, and his work has saved and bettered lives in every corner of the globe." he said. "Secretary Rice asked him to stay but he felt it was time for new challenges. She reluctantly accepted his resignation but told him to keep his uniform ready."
Natsios will join Georgetown in January as Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy and Advisor on International Development.
Natsios has headed USAID since May 2001. He had also served at USAID as director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance from 1989 to 1991 and then as assistant administrator for the Bureau for Food and Humanitarian Assistance from 1991 to January 1993.
Before joining the Bush administration, Natsios was chairman and chief executive officer of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, where he managed the Central Artery/Tunnel Project, or "Big Dig." He also served 12 years in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.