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Independent Commission for Aid Impact: FCDO Review

Volume 686: debated on Wednesday 16 December 2020

On 29 August, shortly before the inauguration of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, I announced that I wanted to reinforce the Independent Commission for Aid Impact’s role in helping Government deliver maximum impact for UK aid spending. I commissioned a review to ensure ICAI’s remit, methodology and operating model focus on maximising the impact of UK overseas development assistance, support lesson-learning, and are in line with the aims of the FCDO and our broader strategic framework for UK ODA, which I set out to the House on 26 November. Today I am publishing that review. The review did not assess ICAI’s status as a non-departmental public body.

The review concludes that ICAI provides strong external scrutiny of UK ODA and offers excellent support to Parliament in its role in holding the Government to account. This must continue. ICAI has an important role in driving learning and focused action as well as providing assurance to UK taxpayers and Parliament. Its formal remit should therefore include lesson learning as well as scrutiny and evaluation to enable its recommendations to lead to real change.

The review makes a number of recommendations to increase ICAI’s impact on ODA spending and to ensure that it delivers practical recommendations. These include focusing its remit to support Government learning as well as independent evaluation and scrutiny, and ensuring reviews contribute to a wider body of best practice.

There are also several recommendations for the FCDO to improve its own role in the scrutiny process, including supporting and responding to ICAI’s reviews and helping ICAI in its work with other ODA-spending departments. The FCDO should also be willing to discuss ICAI’s forward workplan, mindful that decisions on review topics will remain with ICAI Commissioners.

The review consulted a broad range of parliamentary, civil society and Government stakeholders, including ICAI itself, through a series of interviews and roundtables. The review also took into account written contributions, including from members of the public. I am grateful for all of their valuable contributions.

The Government will now discuss the content of this review with ICAI’s commissioners and work with them to implement the recommendations.

A copy of the review will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.