LIST OF MAIN CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
DFID and the Millennium Development Goals
1. Care must be taken to ensure that
the MDGs are not used excessively or inappropriately to drive
DFID's activities and to set the framework for external accountability
and monitoring (paragraph 10).
2. It would be helpful if the Departmental
Report included an explicit statement
of DFID's objectives, as it has in previous years, rather than
simply restating that DFID works in support of the MDGs (paragraph
DFID's Public Service Agreement
3. Given its importance in shaping DFID's
internal structure, its relationships with external stakeholders,
and its effectiveness, it is surprising that the Departmental
Report fails to outline DFID's organisational structure. We recommend
that subsequent Departmental Reports do this, and as a minimal
step, at least include an organisation chart (paragraph 11).
4. The Departmental Report fails to
provide an analysis of spending either by Public Service Agreements
objective or by MDG target. ..... In the absence of such information
it is difficult to ensure that resources allocated to objectives,
properly reflect Departmental policies and priorities. We are
pleased that DFID has taken the opportunity offered by the Spending
Round to define new PSA objectives against which it will be possible
to map budget allocations more clearly. In addition, if the PSA
is the clearest statement of its objectives, DFID ought to give
serious consideration to structuring its Departmental Report around
its PSA so as to make itself more accountable for progress towards
its objectives. We would also like
to know what would happen were DFID to fail to meet its PSA objectives
DFID's Resource Allocations: Sectoral targets
and country planning
5. The explanation given to us as to
how DFID's resource allocation process works, fails to illuminate
the extent to which DFID's resource allocation is driven by its
stated policy objectives, a situation which is not improved by
the lack of information about spending by sectoral objective in
the Departmental Report. In addition, it says little about the
role of historical inertia in determining resource allocations.
We do trust that DFID seeks to spend its money wisely, but for
the purposes of accountability, trust is not sufficient. We were
pleased to hear DFID state: "we are currently reviewing our
resource allocation system in order to identify how better we
can relate resource allocation to our objectives and the MDGs"
6. We look forward to the inclusion
in future Departmental Reports of information about the interplay
between DFID's plans for realising its policy objectivesin
part by attaching conditions to aidand its support for
locally-owned development strategies (paragraph 22).
The 2003-2006 Public Service Agreement and Country
7. We welcome the fact that DFID seeks
to learn and develop as an organisation, and has been re-designing
both its PSA and its country planning processes
8. We accept that indicators sometimes
need to be revised, but do have some concerns about the extent
to which targets and objectives might be driven by data availability.
We appreciate too that statistics need to be collected and assessments
made even whilst data collection is not ideal. But, we do think
that an important medium-term response to problems of data collection
is to improve the capacity of developing countries to monitor
progress towards the MDGs and associated targets and indicators.
Future Departmental Reports might usefully include more information
about what DFID is doing to build the capacity of developing countries
in this regard. We will monitor closely DFID's selection and use
of targets, and any changes to measurement methodologies (paragraph
9. We welcome the new PSA as a serious
attempt to develop a set of objectives and we hope, increasingly
SMARTspecific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timedtargets
which will both drive performance and facilitate accountability,
and which will map onto DFID's evolving organisational structure.
We also welcome the continued efforts to grapple with the issue
of attribution. However, we do have some concerns about the focus
on a limited number of countries. We are uncertain whether this
is for measurement purposes, or whether this is part of a move
to greater selectivity in the number of countries which DFID is
involved in. There may well be good policy reasonsbeyond
making the measurement of progress more practicablefor
a sharpening of DFID's focus; these should be re-iterated. We,
along with DFID, also feel that a three-year time-frame does not
provide a fair or realistic time-span within which to assess DFID's
contribution to international development, and urge HM Treasury
to think seriously about the suitability of such a framework for
DFID. We also note with some concern the lack of targets or indicators
as regards the effective response of multilateral agencies to
humanitarian crises (paragraph 32).
10. We welcome the inclusion of joint targets
as a useful mechanism to encourage the joined up Government which
international development so clearly demands (paragraph 33).
11. We applaud the development of Country
Assistance Plans as an attempt to fill the "missing middle",
and welcome the integration of CAPs with PRSPs and the implicit
recognition that DFID needs to engage with different countries
in different ways (paragraph 35).
DFID's Portfolio of Countries: Country selection
and the nature of engagement
12. Historical links and organisational inertia
are not good reasons to be involved in a particular country; we
are pleased that DFID is thinking about concentrating its efforts
in a smaller number of countries (paragraph 39).
13. We expect subsequent Departmental Reports
to provide clear information about DFID's assessment of its comparative
advantage, its portfolio of countries, and the extent and nature
of DFID's involvement in particular countries. We would also welcome
further information about how DFID determines which countries
will graduate from one form of development assistance to another,
and ultimately beyond development assistance (paragraph 39).
14. We were fascinated to hear about the
Russian competition for aid. We feel that the wider use of such
an approach, with selection criteria made explicit, might help
to focus recipients' minds on why the UK is offering development
assistance, and what potential partners are expected to deliver
in return (paragraph 45).
15. We support the move towards budget support
where suitable partners can be found, and outcomesclosely
aligned to the MDGscan be reliably predicted (paragraph
16. We would like to see more information
on the use of budgetary support contained with the annual Departmental
Report and suggest that next year's Departmental Report provides
a breakdown in the bilateral allocations between money given through
direct budget support and allocations for programmes and projects
17. We were interested to hear about DFID's
decision-making processes as regards involvement in all the cases
mentioned; Latin America, the Sahel, Nigeria, Russia, Mozambique,
Uganda and Kenya. We would welcome the inclusion of similar material
in future Departmental Reports. Such information improves DFID's
accountability by demonstrating the link between DFID's objectives
and spending plans, and by making more explicit DFID's overall
strategy. In addition, by facilitating open discussion and learning
about what works, a move in this direction might help to improve
DFID's effectiveness (paragraph 59).
Monitoring and Evaluation for Accountability and
18. The various tiers of monitoring and evaluationof
the international development system, of DFID as a whole, and
of DFID's specific interventionsshould be well-integrated,
with monitoring of progress towards top-tier targets such as the
MDGs informing bottom-tier data collection, and data collected
at the bottom-tier feeding into the monitoring of top-tier targets.
This is currently not the case (paragraph 60).
19. DFID faces major problems in collecting
the data needed to monitor progress against the MDGs, and has
made the first step towards addressing this issue by recognising
its importance. We urge DFID to continue its work with developing
countries, other donors, the World Bank and the OECD, to improve
the provision of statistics on international development in both
the short and longer term, and to provide progress reports in
future Departmental Reports (paragraph 65).
20. We welcome the fact that DFID plans to
increase its spending on evaluation from £1.136 million in
20001/02 to £1.625 million in 2003/04. We are also glad to
hear that DFID has commissioned an independent evaluation to address
comprehensively for the first time the question of "How effective
is DFID?", and look forward to its publication. But, evaluation
must itself be made more effective. We join with the Public Accounts
Committee in recommending joint evaluations, and in urging a closer
relationship between country teams and the evaluation unit, to
ensure that lessons are learnt and implemented quickly and effectively.
In addition, to ensure the independence of evaluationsomething
which we have previously asked of the European Commissionwe
urge DFID, first, to increase the proportion of evaluations conducted
by external evaluators, and, secondly to ensure that the results
of all of its evaluations are made publicly available without
undue delay. Above all, careful thought must be given to the ways
in which the monitoring of DFID's progress against the top-level
MDG targets can be more closely integrated with the monitoring
of DFID's individual programmes and projects (paragraph 68).
21. In oral evidence, no mention was made
of DFID's Performance Reporting Information System for Management
(PRISM). This makes us question whether PRISM is being used effectively
for the monitoring of DFID's development activities, and if not,
when this system will be implemented fully (paragraph 69).
Conclusions: The missing middle
22. The Departmental Report fails to make
DFID's strategythe ways in which it integrates the cycle
of development policy and practice, and the role it identifies
for itself within the international systemsufficiently
clear (paragraph 71).
23. It is our belief that by setting out
more clearly its strategy and distinctive role, DFID will become
more accountable, andby facilitating learning and improving
its organisational performancemake itself a better partner
and a more effective development agency (paragraph 72).
24. We expect next year's Departmental Report
to make further progress towards the goal of providing clear answers
to the following questions:
· What are DFID's objectives and how
is the achievement of these objectives expected to contribute
to the achievement of the MDGs?
· What resources does DFID have to achieve
its objectives, and how have these resources been allocated, both
by objective and by country?
· What is DFID's model of poverty and
of the obstacles to achieving its poverty reduction objective,
and how does this model inform DFID's policy, activities and spending?
· What activities has DFID been engaged
in in pursuit of its objectives, and where, and what have been
the results of these activities?
· How does DFID monitor and evaluate
its activities and their contribution to achieving the MDGs, and
test and develop its model of poverty and its overall strategy
for the elimination of poverty? (paragraph 73).