Office of the Executive Secretariat

The Office of the Executive Secretariat (ES) functions as the Office of the Administrator’s (A/AID) coordination and communications mechanism.  It is also the authoritative channel for official communications within USAID and between USAID and the interagency community, including information and recommendations from USAID to the White House, the National Security Council, the Department of State, and other government departments and agencies.

ES staffs advise, facilitate and expedite the Agency’s decision-making processes.  ES ensures A/AID receives information and recommendations to make informed and timely decisions on Agency policy, programs, organization and management; and is able to defend those decisions in Executive Branch, Congressional, and public forums.

ES also provides administrative and management services to approximately 100 individuals comprising the Office of the Administrator and the units housed within it, including the Counselors Office (Agency Counselor and Counselor for Innovation), Office of the White House Liaison, Office of the Chief Operating Officer; Office of Budget, Resources, and Management, the Center for Faith Based and Community Initiatives, and the Chief Economist.

Office Vision

Provide an effective executive communications and decision-making capacity to enable the Administrator and Deputy Administrator to successfully articulate, advance and defend the U.S. Government’s development agenda in national and international forums.

Office Goals

  • Support expanded availability and access by the Office of the Administrator and Agency staffs to quality information and expertise from across the Agency to efficiently and effectively inform executive-level decision-making.
  • Facilitate the effective exchange of information between USAID, other USG departments and agencies, and other external (private and non-government) organizations to shape interaction and inform decision-making.

Scope of Office Responsibilities

ES Front Office: The management team, comprising the Executive Secretary, two Deputy Executive Secretaries (one for management and operations and one for executive communications and outreach), and an Executive Assistant/Office Manager, has overall responsibility for managing ES operations.  The ES Front Office team serves as Agency point of contact for Congressional oversight requests and service of notice authorities.  It manages ES external relations, including staff exchanges with the NSC and State Department, and coordinates and supports Agency details to the staff of the National Security Council.  The team also directly supports front office management and special initiatives, ensuring that the Administrator, Deputy Administrator, and Agency Counselor are receiving critical and timely support.  The team manages the Agency’s website, and conducts customer service surveys.  The Executive Secretary is a core member of the Administrator’s senior management team, and serves on the Agency’s Executive Management and Crisis Management committees, as well as the Management Operations Council and similar governance bodies.  In addition, the Administrator delegates to the Executive Secretary authority to (a) classify, downgrade, and declassify Secret and Confidential information and (b) administer oaths of office.

Office Management Support (OMS): The OMS team is led by the Executive Assistant/Office Manager, and provides essential executive support to the ES and Deputies, and carries out the following functions:

  • Reception:  Manages the ES main telephone line, receives visitors to the ES suite, records time and attendance for ES staff, and schedules the Point IV conference room.
  • Reports:  Manages standard ES reports including Weekly Senior Management Meeting notes, Senior Staff Whereabouts, and Weekly/Monthly Reports to the Administrator.
  • Communications: Receives, processes, and confirms USAID attendance at NSS convened meetings, including clearing visitors and vehicles.  Also manages ES owned mail lists, listservs, and contact/telephone rosters.
  • Correspondence and Records:  Receives, tracks, and processes incoming executive correspondence, invitations, and meeting requests (internal and external) for A/AID and DA/AID in cooperation with the ES Liaison Team and the Front Office scheduling team.  Serves as ES files custodian, responsible for maintaining official ES records and files, including vital records.

Administrative and Management Services (AMS): ES provides administrative and logistical support to the Office of the Administrator.  It carries out the following functions:

  • Financial Management:  Manages the budget for all A/AID units and ES and manages all procurement, funding, and expenditure actions (services, expendable and non-expendable items).  Also determines legality and appropriate use of government funds.
  • Personnel:  Manages recruitment, training, staffing and support for ES and A/AID units (contract and direct hire).
  • Travel:  Manages all domestic and international travel for ES and A/AID units, including the executive vehicle fleet and drivers, and the administrative support of a “mobile ES” to support the Administrator when in a travel status.
  • Administrative Support:  Provides administrative support for ES and A/AID units including purchasing and managing equipment and supplies, managing inventory, providing IT support, space planning, processing security clearances, and managing payroll.
  • Accountability:  Ensures accountability by managing audit, internal control, ethics and financial disclosures, and other legal requirements on behalf of ES and A/AID.

The Liaison Team:  This team serves as a liaison between the Office of the Administrator and the rest of the Agency:

  • ensuring A/AID’s access to the fullest information for decisions and meetings;
  • assisting the Agency’s bureaus and offices to craft effective and fully cleared communications to the A/AID and the interagency as efficiently as possible;
  • assisting bureaus and offices to advance the A/AID’s and Agency’s priorities, while also recognizing their work on bureau and office priorities; and
  • managing executive communications, including developing and enforcing Agency standards and instructions for the receipt, preparation, review, dispatch, and control of all written communications to and from the Administrator and Deputy Administrator, including memoranda and executive correspondence. 

The Team comprises Special Assistants, who staff the Administrator’s and Deputy Administrator’s meetings and travel.  Special Assistants lead teams of analysts who liaise with Agency bureaus and offices to facilitate internal and external executive communications, policy guidance and decisions.  The Liaison team manages strategic outreach to bureaus including outreach and training for the Correspondence Control Contacts (bureau and office liaisons to ES).  The Liaison team works closely with the Chief of Staff, Front Office Projects Team and Special Events and Trip Director.  The Team specifically handles the following: 

  • Staffing the Administrator and Deputy Administrator:  The team assists with scheduling meetings, telephone calls and public appearances.  They task and develop agendas and other meeting materials to prepare principals for meetings and draft summaries of conclusions.  The team carries out these functions for internal and external meetings and for principals while they are on travel.  The team also advances trips, providing substantive and logistical support for Agency principals, and supports the principals on the ground in a “mobile ES” capacity. 
  • Memoranda: ES tasks and reviews Agency-prepared documents for the Administrator and Deputy Administrator, ensuring that (a) the information supplied is sufficient for decision-making or briefing purposes, (b) the views of concerned bureaus and offices have been incorporated, and (c) the documents are appropriately structured.
  • Correspondence: ES is responsible for tracking and assigning action on all executive correspondence, including congressional communications received by USAID personnel and all public communication addressed to the Administrator and Deputy Administrator.
  • Daily Briefing Books and Trip Books:  The team provides the documents that comprise the daily electronic briefing books for the Administrator, Deputy Administrator and other senior staff in A/AID.  ES develops special briefing books in support of A/AID travel.

Secure Communications and Safety: This team coordinates ES participation in the Agency’s Crisis Management Team and Continuity of Operations (COOP) planning and response efforts.  The Team plays a lead role in facilitating engagement with the intelligence community to support achievement of development policy priorities, and coordinates with the Office of Security to expand access and use of classified material. It manages secure space and secure communications, including intelligence briefings for senior staff.  ES serves as the Agency’s Top Secret Document Control Point.  ES also serves as the Special Security Officer, managing the sixth floor SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility) and providing approval for SCI-level classified access.  

Neilesh Shelat
Executive Secretary and Senior National Security Adviser
Independent Office
Eric Watson, Deputy Executive Secretary
Deputy Executive Secretary
Independent Office
Christopher Colbow
Deputy Executive Secretary
Independent Office