Acting Head of USAID Forced to Resign

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November 6, 2020

John Barsa, the acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), was forced to step down on Friday under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, which only permits the acting heads of agencies to serve for 210 days.

Barsa assumed the office in early April after former USAID head Mark Green stepped down from the post. Deputy USAID administrator Bonnie Glick will fill in as the agency's head, according to a legal memo published by the agency and first reported by the Washington Post. Glick is the only USAID official who currently has the power to act as the organization's leader, according to that memo.

USAID's top ethics attorney notified Barsa of his legal requirements in a memo sent Friday morning. The agency had reportedly received press requests asking about Barsa's status. Barsa will return to his previous position as assistant administrator for USAID's Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean.

"Obviously this is going to be very confusing for the agency and our partners," the memo states.

Glick takes the lead at USAID as it faces multiple global challenges, including the coronavirus pandemic. Glick has prioritized a push to drive a wedge between developing nations, particularly in Africa, and China, which is trying to get its next-generation 5G technologies adopted by these countries. The United States views this as a global security risk.