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Independent scrutiny of aid watchdog of utmost importance

24 March 2017

The forthcoming ‘Tailored Review' of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) must be independent of DFID, conclude MPs.

Every public body is required to undergo a ‘Tailored Review' during the lifetime of a Parliament. Their purpose is to challenge and seek assurance of the continuing need, efficiency and good governance of the organisation. Usually, government departments conduct the review of their arm's length bodies.

However, the International Development Committee's report, published today, raises concerns about how independence will be maintained if DFID conducts a tailored review of ICAI, when ICAI is responsible for scrutinising DFID.

The Framework Agreement for ICAI sets out clearly how its function is “to provide independent scrutiny of UK aid spending in order to promote the delivery of value for money for British taxpayers and the maximisation of the impact of aid.”

The Agreement also gives ICAI a mandate to examine any UK aid classified as Official Development Assistance (ODA) regardless of which Government Department is responsible for spending it. Today's Report also sets out the importance of any review of ICAI being entirely independent of the departments which have ODA expenditure.

Chair's comments

Stephen Twigg MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

“The International Development Committee believes very strongly in the vital importance of independent scrutiny of UK aid. This provides essential accountability and transparency for taxpayers. It is also right that ICAI itself is subject to proper scrutiny.

At a time when development spending is subject to substantial media and public attention, any perception of DFID marking its own homework must be avoided. The independence of the Review from DFID is of the utmost importance.

The reassurance offered by DFID and the Cabinet Office does not completely recognise the unique position of ICAI as a public body whose sole role is to scrutinise the expenditure predominantly of its sponsor department.

This review is of the utmost importance for public confidence in UK spending on aid. The International Development Committee expects to be consulted on the terms of reference for the Review and to contribute to the review itself.”

Further information

Image: ICAI