DFID’s use of contractors to deliver aid programmes

DFID uses private sector contractors to assist in delivering aid, accounting for 9% of its aid expenditure in 2011-12. This report examines their role in programme delivery.

Score: Green/Amber
  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 17 May 2013
  3. Type: Other
  4. Subject: Private sector
  5. Assessment: Green/Amber
  6. Location: Bangladesh, Nigeria, Yemen
  7. Lead commissioner: Mark Foster

Read the terms of reference

Our approach

This report focuses on contractor programme delivery. We reviewed the Department for International Development’s (DFID) central procurement group (PrG) and five case studies of varying sizes with a combined contract value of £264 million. This included programmes in Bangladesh, Yemen and Nigeria; a global climate and development knowledge network; and due diligence on civil society organisations receiving DFID funds.

For this report we:

  • Reviewed five case study programmes in detail. We examined records and reports, carried out interviews with DFID, contractor staff and third parties and visited one of the programmes in the field (in Bangladesh) to view the impact on intended beneficiaries at first hand.
  • Conducted an anonymous survey for Department for International Development (DFID) and its contractors to contribute further to specific questions. The results are available below.
  • Reviewed relevant corporate DFID processes, including programme management and procurement.
  • Ran workshops with interested parties from the contractor community, including British Expertise, the Development Forum and the Small Contractors’ Forum, to understand their perspectives.

Review questions

  1. Objectives: What is the programme trying to achieve?
  2. Delivery: Is the delivery chain managed so as to be fit for purpose?
  3. Impact: What is the impact on intended beneficiaries?
  4. Learning: What works and what needs improvement?


Read the results of our survey of DFID staff and contractors


Review publication

Published 17 May 2013

Government response

Published 7 June 2013

ICAI follow-up

Published 12 June 2014