DfID looks to step up contractor scrutiny after criticism

Analysis by The Times finds fees paid to consultancy companies by the Department for International Development have risen sharply in the past year

By Emilio Casalicchio

08 Dec 2016

Foreign aid consultancies could be forced to reveal how much they charge the government and what they pay staff, after accusations they earn hundreds of millions from the public purse.

Spending on aid consultancies has doubled to almost £1bn a year since 2012, with just 10 British firms raking in just under half the amount, according to an analysis by The Times of more than 70,000 transactions.

One thinktank reportedly charged £10,306 to write a single blog post, while another earned £23,000 for a two-page policy brief.

Department for International Development perm sec Mark Lowcock interviewed
Reimagine aid allocation

The paper reports that international development secretary Priti Patel has said privately that she will not “tolerate the profiteering by those who have created an industry out of the suffering of the world’s poorest”.

It adds that she is considering forcing aid suppliers to publish all contracts.

Fees paid to 265 consultancy companies and 273 other organisations for “technical and advisory services” soared from £501m in 2012 to £931m last year, the paper said.

A spokesperson from the Department for International Development said it was “one of the most transparent development agencies in the world” but “can and will do more”.

The spokesperson added that consultancy spending had grown in line with overall aid expenditure and that the department was “examining how we can increase scrutiny of contractor spending”.

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