Our workplan

ICAI reviews are planned through a rolling programme which is approved by the International Development Committee. For our July 2017 to June 2018 workplan, click here.

We use four selection criteria when planning our work plan:

Relevance: the relevance of the topic to new and emerging challenges for the aid programme and its level of interest to stakeholders and the public.

Materiality:the importance of the topic in terms of scale of expenditure.

Risk: the level of risk involved to achieve the objectives of UK aid or to the appropriate use of UK funds.

Coverage: appropriate coverage of the UK aid programme, across sectors, issues, types of programme and spending department.

Our themes

Our work plan draws on five broad themes which reflect the challenges facing the UK development effort and are closely related to the strategic objectives set out in the government’s Aid Strategy. These themes provide us with a framework for selecting our work and sharing lessons across individual reviews.

  • Inclusive growth, including economic development, support for the private sector, economic infrastructure and the increasing role of capital investment in the aid budget.
  • Leaving no one behind, including basic services, social safety nets and the new Global Goals commitments on meeting the basic needs of the poorest.
  • Crisis, resilience and stability, covering areas such as humanitarian emergencies, protracted crises, post-conflict stabilisation and building resilience, including through adaptation to climate change.
  • Transparency, accountability and empowerment, including good governance, political participation, fighting corruption, empowering women and promoting human rights.
  • Beyond aid, including other forms of development cooperation on issues such as trade, migration, economic development and taxation.

Our core issues

Alongside our themes we have a set of core issues which we will explore across our reviews.

  • Financial and risk management
  • Programme delivery
  • The quality and use of evidence
  • Gender and equality
  • Working with and through others
  • Cross-government working

Alongside this work plan, we will retain some capacity to undertake ad hoc reports on specific issues of interest or concern.


We carry out four different types of reviews.

  • Impact reviews will involve a thorough assessment of what underlies DFID’s results claims and the significance of its development impact. They will include a strong focus on evidence of results and the quality of the systems that DFID uses to capture that evidence.
  • Performance reviews will take a robust look at the effectiveness and value for money of aid programmes, with a strong focus on accountability. They will also explore the adequacy of DFID’s systems, processes and capacity, exploring how these are linked to patterns of performance in different sectors and areas.
  • Learning reviews will explore new and emerging areas of the aid programme to capture emerging learning and inform future decision-making. They will pay particular attention to how well DFID generates and shares knowledge on how to tackle new challenges. While part of the independent scrutiny process, these reviews will involve close interaction with DFID to promote the uptake of lessons.
  • Rapid reviews are short, real-time reviews of an emerging issue or area of UK aid spending that is of particular interest to the UK Parliament and public. While we examine the evidence to date and comment on issues of concern, our rapid reviews are not intended to reach final conclusions on performance or impact, and are therefore not scored.