Minutes and Actions of the 66th Board Meeting of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact
Tamsyn Barton (Chief Commissioner and Chair)
Hugh Bayley (Commissioner)
Tarek Rouchdy (Commissioner)
Andrew Forbes (Secretariat)
Ekpe Attah (Secretariat)
Faith Cowling (Secretariat)
Gemma Roberts-Kinnear (Secretariat)
Goknur Ozer (Secretariat)
Pauline Worthington (Secretariat)
Catherine Cameron (Agulhas items 4 & 7)
Lauren Pett (Agulhas items 4 & 7)
Marcus Cox (Agulhas items 4 & 7)
Shabbir Merali (Guest Speaker)
Commissioners discussed the actions from the April 2022 board meeting and progress to date, in particular the delays in FCDO action on recruiting to ICAI’s vacancies. It was currently taking around 11 months on average to recruit and on-board new secretariat staff (this figure was liable to go up or down, depending on the resolution of ‘live’ recruitment campaigns, although current indications were that it was likely to increase further). The Head of Communications post has been vacant since May 2021, the Head of Reviews since January 2022 and a Review Manager since March 2022 (the advert for the replacement of whom had still not been posted on-line by FCDO HR), The Chief Commissioner has raised this issue with senior officials in FCDO who had offered to assist. The Head of Secretariat had also approached FCDO with a view to addressing gaps through FCDO’s temporary staffing commercial framework and had initiated the process in April. However, this too was taking some time to progress through the necessary FCDO approvals.
The Chief Commissioner had met with the chair of the IDC and discussed the possibility of the proposed parliamentary event being a joint event with the IDC. The Chair had mentioned the importance of meeting the acting Chair of the Sub-Committee covering for Theo Clarke MP.
Action 1: Head of Secretariat to continue to progress recruitment issues and interim resource.
Action 2: Acting Head of Communications to contact IDC clerks to discuss possibility of a joint parliamentary event.
Action 3: Acting Head of Communications to confirm that the chair of the IDC had seen the latest draft of the Framework Agreement.
Action 4: Acting Head of Communications to arrange a meeting with the acting chair of the IDC sub-committee.
The Secretariat advised Commissioners that confirmation of programme, administration and FLD budgets had now been received and was as expected from the information in the published FCDO main estimates. The FCDO had once again proposed a restriction of ICAI’s 22/23 programme budget to £2.8 million which was lower than the amount required to fulfil the work programme agreed with the IDC. No information had been provided about the programme budget for the April to June 2023 period.
Commissioners discussed the 21/22 performance against the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) noting that multiple publications in a short time frame impacted Parliamentary scrutiny and stakeholder engagement with our reviews. However, the value of consulting on satisfaction levels beyond the Chair and the Sub-Committee Chair was noted. The performance against the KPI ‘proportion of ICAI recommendations that have been actioned by time of follow up’ had not been achieved again this year and Commissioners discussed options for actions to improve performance in this area.
Commissioners noted that a follow up meeting had taken place with Mats Härsmar and Jan Pettersson from the Expert Group for Aid Studies (EBA) Sweden, broadly equivalent to ICAI in its role in Sweden
Action 5: The wording of the KPI on IDC satisfaction to be amended for 2022/23.
Action 6: Chief Commissioner to raise the issue of performance against the KPI ‘proportion of ICAI recommendations that have been actioned by time of follow up’ at her next meeting with the FCDO’s Director for Development and Parliament.
Action 7: Chief Commissioner to raise again the issue of inadequate programme budget allocation with FCDO’s Director General, Finance and Corporate.
Commissioners noted that there had been two Freedom of Information requests received in May 2022. The first asked for details of IT provision and the response advised no information was held in scope of this request as FCDO provide ICAI’s IT. The second asked for numbers of ICAI staff accused of sexual or professional misconduct and the response advised that we hold no information in scope of the request as we have received no such accusations nor information about disciplinary proceedings.
Corporate Risk Register
Commissioners discussed the Corporate Risk Register noting that the biggest risk remained the impact of machinery of government changes on ICAI’s effectiveness. Commissioners discussed the staff recruitment and retention risk and the importance of maintaining effective working relationships with the IDC.
Action 8: Head of Delivery to review the scoring of the risk around staff recruitment and retention.
There had been no Subject Access Requests in the last quarter.
There had been no instances of non-compliance with ICAI safeguarding standards in the last quarter.
The Head of Secretariat advised Commissioners that – exceptionally – the final draft had been agreed with the FCDO link team to ensure joint working on transition to ICAI Phase 4.
The Head of Secretariat updated Commissioners on the transition project, noting in particular that early market engagement to scope out potential external service providers for ICAI’s next phase was expected soon.
Commissioners discussed the risks to the continuity of ICAI’s delivery of reviews during the transition from phase 3 to phase 4.
Commissioners confirmed they were satisfied with the final draft of the IAD report.
Action 9: Head of Secretariat to review both ICAI’s risk register and the FCDO transition project risk register to ensure all relevant risks are fully captured.
Shabbir Merali gave an overview of his role and priorities in FCDO, following the publication of the International Development Strategy, and answered questions from commissioners on the implications of changing political and economic contexts on the UK’s aid programme.
The Acting Head of Communications updated Commissioners on activities over the last 3 months, engagement events over the next month, the message from the IDC about the importance of in-person attendance at hearings and the agenda for her meeting with the IDC clerks on 22 June.
Commissioners discussed the importance of taking opportunities to promote ICAI’s work whenever possible.
6. Progress against current and future workplan – review capacity, resources and contingency planning
The proposed workplan required delivery of 40% of the phase 4 publications –17 reviews and information notes – to be delivered in the next 12 months, with a particular pressure on the final 3 months (April to June 2023). The Acting Head of Reviews updated Commissioners on the likely impact of the current capacity constraints within the ICAI review team on the workplan and discussed options for mitigating the impact.
Commissioners discussed the options, noting that the workplan had already been agreed with the IDC and that ICAI’s operational independence and ability to deliver the workplan might also be impacted by FCDO’s failure to provide the required budget. Commissioners agreed the service provider should take on additional responsibilities from the secretariat for some reviews.
The Acting Head of Reviews updated commissioners on achievements over the last 3 months. Further to the discussion under the previous item, the service provider team confirmed their willingness to assist with any reallocation of workload to enable delivery of the workplan.
Discussion included the importance of delivering all reviews already agreed with the IDC and the challenges of delivering an ambitious programme of work over the next 12 months – in particular a heavy publication schedule in the last 3 months of phase 3.
Action 10: Head of Reviews to meet with service provider to discuss options for additional assistance to deliver the workplan.
|No.||Action||Action by||Status||Target completion date|
|Head of Secretariat to continue to progress recruitment issues and interim resource||Head of Secretariat||In progress||ongoing|
|2||Acting Head of Communications to contact IDC clerks to discuss possibility of a joint parliamentary event||Acting Head of Communications||In progress||15 July 2022|
|3||Acting Head of Communications to confirm that the chair of the IDC had seen the latest draft of the Framework Agreement||Acting Head of Communications||In progress||15 July 2022|
|4||Acting Head of Communications to arrange a meeting with the acting chair of the IDC sub-committee||Acting Head of Communications||In progress||31 July 2022|
|5||The wording of the KPI on IDC satisfaction to be amended for 2022/23
|Head of Delivery||In progress||31 July 2022|
|6||Chief Commissioner to raise the issue of performance against the KPI ‘proportion of ICAI recommendations that have been actioned by time of follow up’ at her next meeting with the FCDO’s Director for Development and Parliament||Chief Commissioner||In progress||31 July 2022|
|7||Chief Commissioner to raise again the issue of inadequate programme budget allocation with FCDO’s Director General, Finance and Corporate||Chief Commissioner||In progress||31 July 2022|
|8||Head of Delivery to review the scoring of the risk around staff recruitment and retention||Head of Delivery||In progress||15 June 2022|
|9||Head of Secretariat to review both ICAI’s risk register and the FCDO transition project risk register to ensure all relevant risks are fully captured||Head of Secretariat||In progress||15 June 2022|
|10||Head of Reviews to meet with service provider to discuss options for additional assistance to deliver the workplan||Head of Reviews||In progress||31 July 2022|
|No.||Action||Action by||Status||Target Completion Date|
|1||Acting Head of Engagement to arrange a meeting with the Acting chair of the IDC sub-committee||Acting Head of Engagement||In progress||21 July 2022|