USAID acting administrator required to leave post by midnight

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The acting administrator for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) must vacate his position by midnight on Friday as his time as temporary head of the State Department’s international aid agency expires due to federal requirements, according to a report by DEVEX

USAID’s ethics attorney Jack Ohlweiler sent an email to John Barsa, the agency’s acting administrator, confirming the end of his appointment as of Friday at midnight. 

Barsa assumed his post as acting head of the agency on April 11, filling the role left vacant with the departure in March of former head Mark Green. 

Under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, administration officials serving in acting capacities can only do so for 210 days from the date the position became vacant. For Barsa, that deadline arrived Friday.  

The email sent to Barsa affirming his termination recommended issuing a notice of the change in leadership to “maintain calm and stability,” DEVEX reported.

“Obviously this is going to be very confusing for the Agency and our partners. … In order to maintain calm and stability, I recommend an Agency notice that announces this change,” the email reads. 

The change in leadership at the State Department’s premier international aid organization amid the COVID-19 pandemic adds more uncertainty to an already tense few days as the country and world wait anxiously for the final results of the U.S. presidential election.  

Barsa is expected to be replaced by USAID’s deputy administrator Bonnie Glick and will return to his Senate-confirmed position as head of the agency’s bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Barsa’s time as temporary head of the agency occurred as the world was grappling with the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic and President Trump’s halting of funding to the World Health Organization. 

The agency also came under scrutiny for restrictions imposed on USAID grantees blocking them from buying personal protective equipment that was being sourced to supplement the short supply in the U.S., a prohibition that was later rescinded. 

Rebecca Beitsch contributed. 

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