Achieving value for money through procurement – Part 1: DFID’s approach to its supplier market

The Department for International Development (DFID) has developed a credible approach to enabling fair and open competition in its supplier market and to achieving value for money in its procurement.

Score: Green/Amber
  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 8 November 2017
  3. Type: Performance review
  4. Subject: Government processes and systems
  5. Assessment: Green/Amber
  6. Lead commissioner: Alison Evans

Read the review


We concluded that DFID has developed a credible approach to enabling fair and open competition in its supplier market and to achieving value for money in its procurement. We awarded a green-amber score and made four recommendations.


We found that DFID has made a concerted effort to build up its commercial capacity and develop its supplier base.

Our review also found that DFID has identified areas of its procurement practices which might inhibit competition among its suppliers – such as the size and complexity of contracts – and has launched new initiatives to address these issues.

It stressed, however, the need for improved communication about procurement opportunities and a more sustained focus on market creation in partner countries.

DFID has exceeded cross-government targets for the share of contracts won by small and medium sized enterprises – but the review found that the department still needs to do more to increase the range and diversity of suppliers.

The review found that, despite introducing open-book accounting the department has been slow to exercise these rights due to capacity constraints.

It also warned that some suppliers with a track record of delivering DFID programmes could have advantages over new entrants that may have the unintended consequence of limiting competition.

We awarded DFID a green-amber score for its approach to shaping its supplier market, in recognition of its increased ambition and the positive direction of travel but also highlighting important areas in need of improvement.


As a result of this review ICAI made the following recommendations:

  1. DFID should adopt a more systematic approach to its stated objective of promoting the participation of local suppliers, to the extent permitted within procurement regulations, including measures at the central, sector and country office levels to encourage the emergence of future prime contractors from developing countries. This might include identifying opportunities for local suppliers to compete directly for DFID contracts, increased supervision of the terms on which prime contractors engage local suppliers, and more inducement of DFID’s prime contractors to invest in building local capacity.
  2. DFID should develop clear plans on how it will progress its use of open-book accounting and improve fee rate transparency, and ensure that its plans are clearly communicated to the supplier market, to minimise the risk of unintended consequences.
  3. DFID should accelerate its efforts to improve communication of pipeline opportunities to the market. It should also assess what potential information advantages are gained by participants in its Key Supplier Management Programme, and ensure that this is counterbalanced by more effective communication with all potential suppliers. Internally, DFID should provide clearer guidance to staff as to what can and cannot be discussed during key supplier meetings.
  4. The next phase of DFID’s commercial reform plans should be accompanied by a stronger change management approach, with explicit objectives that are clearly communicated to staff. Its plans should be supported by robust monitoring and management information arrangements, to enable full transparency, regular progress reporting and mitigation of potential negative effects.




Published 19 April 2017

Evidence gathering


Review publication

Published 8 November 2017

Government response

Published 20 December 2017

Parliamentary scrutiny

IDC hearing 21 February 2018

ICAI follow-up

Published 23 July 2020