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Leading UK aid contractor acted improperly

12 February 2017

The International Development Committee has concluded an investigation of allegations of improper behaviour by Adam Smith International relating to the submission of written evidence to an inquiry into the allocation of resources for UK Aid.

The Committee's Special Report: Conduct of Adam Smith International, concludes that the leading aid contractor went well beyond what was appropriate, and ‘acted improperly' by:

  • overstepping the mark in soliciting the submission of written evidence, including applying pressure to beneficiaries to submit evidence with implied or explicit references to continuation of funding;
  • failing to make clear the extent of its involvement in the submissions of evidence; and,
  • not making sure that all of those on whose behalf it was submitting evidence were made aware that they were submitting evidence to a parliamentary committee, and of the importance and implications of doing so.

Chair's comments

Stephen Twigg MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

"This is a damning report which reflects badly on the activities of a leading UK aid contractor. The Committee deplores the inappropriate conduct shown by Adam Smith International – the attempts to conceal their involvement in collecting beneficial testimonials about their work, and the application of pressure on beneficiaries to submit written evidence.

Furthermore, Adam Smith International sought to unduly influence the Committee by engineering submissions of written evidence. This shows blatant disregard for the proceedings of Select Committees, and by extension, the House of Commons. Taken together, the actions of Adam Smith International were entirely inappropriate and show a serious lack of judgement.

This investigation has raised serious concerns about the culture within one of the leading organisations involved in the delivery of UK aid contracts. The Committee will be looking further at these wider issues as part of our ongoing inquiry into DFID's use of contractors."

In April 2016, the International Development Committee launched an inquiry into DFID's use of contractors in delivering its aid programmes. Irregularities in written evidence, identified by the Committee team and exposed by media, prompted further investigation. The report summarises the processes, findings and conclusions of the investigation.

Further information

Image: Department for International Development