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DFID's use of contractors: Call for evidence

27 April 2016

The International Development Committee is holding an evidence session into DFID's use of contractors. 

Terms of reference

The International Development Committee will hold a one-off oral evidence session on DFID's use of contractors on Monday 6 June. In advance of that session, the Committee invites written submissions on the following aspects of DFID's use of contractors:

  • What are the comparative costs and advantages of DFID using large contractors, as opposed to managing programmes itself, via NGOs and other community-based organisations, or through multilateral partners? Could these costs be reduced and, if so, how?
  • How does DFID decide when and where to use contractors? To what extent is DFID finding the right balance between the use of contractors and the development of in-house skills to meet changing needs?
  • How effective are DFID's procurement, contract management, risk management and programme management processes in achieving value for money and effective long-term development? How could these processes be improved?

Written Submissions

The Committee values diversity and seeks to ensure this where possible. We encourage members of underrepresented groups to submit written evidence. The deadline for these is Monday 23 May 2016.

The Committee considers requests for reasonable adjustments to its usual arrangements for taking evidence and publishing material, to enhance access. Please contact or telephone 020 7219 1223


DFID has increasingly used contractors to deliver programmes, as well as for day-to-day operational support and advice. In 2011–12 contractors accounted for 9% of its aid expenditure, while in some countries contractors account for up to 75% of DFID spend.

DFID's increasing focus on fragile states and regions may lead to this trend continuing, as it becomes more difficult to hire and retain staff willing to work in hostile environments long-term.

In May 2013 ICAI gave DFID a Green-Amber rating for its use of contractors, finding that "contractors are an effective option for delivering aid" and that DFID "has selected contractors that have delivered positive results at competitive fee rates." However, over the last few years there has also been heavy criticism of DFID's use of for-profit private organisations to deliver aid programmes, due to rising profits and high salaries within the organisations used.

Further information

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