On 21 March the Government announced the triennial review of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) and is seeking views of stakeholders who wish to contribute to the Review. Triennial Reviews of Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs) are part of the Government’s commitment to review all NDPBs, with the aim of increasing accountability for actions carried out on behalf of the State.
The ICAI’s strategic aim is to provide independent scrutiny of UK aid spending, to promote the delivery of value for money for British taxpayers and to maximise the impact of aid.
The Review will be conducted in line with Cabinet Office principles and guidance, in two stages.
The first stage will:
- Identify and examine the key functions of the ICAI and assess how these functions contribute to the core business of DFID;
- Assess the requirement for these functions to continue given other scrutiny processes;
- If continuing, assess how the key functions might best be delivered; if one of these options is continuing delivery through the ICAI, then make an assessment against the Government’s “three tests”: technical function; political impartiality; and the need for independence from Ministers.
If the outcome of stage one is that delivery should continue through the ICAI, the second stage of the review will:
- Review whether ICAI is operating in line with the recognised principles of good corporate governance, using the Cabinet Office “comply or explain” standard approach.
In support of these aims we would welcome input and evidence from stakeholders, focused on these main questions:
For the purposes of this review, we have defined ICAI’s key functions as follows:
- Produce a wide range of independent, high quality/professionally credible and accessible reports (including evaluations, VfM reviews, investigations) setting out evidence of the impact and value for money of UK development efforts;
- Work with and for Parliament to help hold the UK Government to account for its development programme, and make information on this programme available to the public;
- Produce appropriately targeted recommendations to be implemented/ followed up by HMG.
Which of these functions do you think are still needed? What would be the impact if ICAI ceased to exist?
Would you define ICAI’s functions differently?
Do you think any of the following delivery mechanisms would be more appropriate or cost effective at delivering these functions: Local government, the voluntary sector, private sector, another existing body or DFID itself?
To date, do you think ICAI has focused on scrutinising UK aid spend or the wider HMG development effort? What do you think it should be doing?
Where do you think ICAI sits on the spectrum between audit and research? Is this where they should be?
How far can and should ICAI have a role in holding HMG to account?
Production of reports
What is the quality of ICAI reports? Is the expertise of those producing the reports appropriate? How does this compare to other scrutiny bodies that you know of?
How far does the methodology used by ICAI add value to other scrutiny of DFID programmes (eg IDC, NAO, DFID internal)?
How far does ICAI involve beneficiaries in its work?
What impact have ICAI reviews had on DFID staff and resources?
How independent do you believe ICAI is? How important do you think this independence is for ICAI’s ability to deliver its functions effectively?
How much of an impact do you think the Commissioners have on ICAI recommendations and reports? What added value do you think they bring? Do they have the right skillset?
Making information available to the IDC and the public
How important do you think ICAI’s role is in providing information about UK development to taxpayers?
What impact has ICAI had on public perceptions of UK development?
Production of targeted recommendations
What has been the added value of ICAI’s recommendations? How do these compare to other scrutiny bodies that you know of?
How far and why have recommendations been followed up?
What impact has ICAI had on DFID’s own approach to monitoring impact and value for money?
How far has ICAI promoted lesson learning in DFID?
Do you think ICAI could improve? If so, how do you think ICAI could improve?