ICAI follow-up review of 2020-21 reports

ICAI’s follow-up review looks at how well government departments have responded to the recommendations made in our 2020-21 reviews, and outstanding issues from previous reviews.

  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 30 June 2022
  3. Type: Follow-up review
  4. Lead commissioner: Tamsyn Barton

Read the follow-up


This year’s follow-up review looks at how well government departments have responded to recommendations made in seven reviews published in 2020-2021. It also looks again at outstanding issues from previous follow-up exercises.


Overall, the government response to ICAI’s recommendations in this follow-up review has been mixed. Progress on recommendations continues to be affected by the departmental merger, lack of strategic direction until the International Development Strategy was published, and successive reductions to the UK aid budget.

The response to the follow-up process has nevertheless been stronger than last year, which saw the follow-up exercise hampered by a lack of access to documentation to assess the relevance and effectiveness of government actions. However, access to evidence remains a problem compared with the years before the FCDO merger.

Review Rating
The UK’s support to the African Development Bank Group Adequate
Assessing DFID’s results in nutrition Adequate
Sexual exploitation and abuse by international peacekeepers Adequate
The UK’s approach to tackling modern slavery through the aid programme Inadequate
Management of the 0.7% ODA spending target, Part 1 and Part 2 Inadequate
Tackling fraud in UK aid Inadequate
UK aid’s approach to youth employment in the Middle East and North Africa Inadequate

‘Learning journeys’

This year’s follow-up review features two ‘learning journeys’, highlighting examples of success after consecutive ICAI follow-up processes:

  • Sexual exploitation and abuse by international peacekeepers and The UK’s Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative: Both reviews found a lack of strategic direction and cross-government coordination. They also expressed concern that a survivor-focused approach was not consistently followed through in the design and implementation of programming. This year’s follow-up exercise reveals a strong learning journey that has placed the government’s programmes to tackle conflict-related sexual violence on a much stronger evidence-based footing and in line with global best practice.
  • Assessing DFID’s results in improving maternal health: After returning for a third time to recommendations made in the 2018 review, we are pleased to see the results of a clear, if somewhat slow, learning journey within FCDO on the importance of long-term planning and strategic direction in this area, and of improved results reporting.

Other outstanding issues covered in this report

  • How UK aid learns: Only limited action has been taken to date on the recommendations from this review, despite their continued relevance and the amount of time since the review was published. It is also clear that these recommendations are not receiving adequate attention as a part of the merger process, which could have been used as a vehicle for taking them forward.
  • The changing nature of UK aid in Ghana: FCDO now acknowledges the need to protect the development gains to which it has contributed, as far as possible within a constrained budget environment. However, ICAI’s recommendation on ensuring the centrality of development objectives when ODA is spent, as part of an integrated approach to aid, trade and investment, will need attention as the International Development Strategy starts to be implemented.


Review publication

Published 30 June 2022

Further scrutiny

Expected summer 2023