Implementing Australia's aid policy
In July 2011, the Government released a new aid policy for Australia’s aid program, An Effective Aid Program for Australia: Making a real difference—Delivering real results. AusAID is now implementing the aid policy, and putting in place structures, policies and management systems to effectively and efficiently manage an aid program that delivers results. Below are some of the key initiatives being implemented.
Results and budget reform
Comprehensive Aid Policy Framework
On 8 May 2012, the Minister announced, alongside the 2012-13 Budget, the Comprehensive Aid Policy Framework (the CAPF). The CAPF includes a rolling four-year budget strategy, headline results that will be achieved and new standards for the efficient and effective delivery of Australian aid.
The CAPF encompasses the aid spending of all federal agencies, not only AusAID, and will underpin whole-of-government aid efforts over the next four years. The CAPF will enable the Australian Government and Australian aid recipients to plan and implement aid investments more effectively. It will deliver better results in terms of lives saved, people lifted out of poverty, children educated and vulnerable people provided with life-saving assistance in times of crisis. The CAPF also provides the Australian people with clarity on what the aid program is trying to achieve.
The CAPF includes a three-tier Results Framework setting out the results we will achieve through our aid investment by 2015-16. This includes specifying the major successes the aid program will pursue and new standards for operational efficiency and effectiveness.
Each year, the aid program will be assessed against progress towards achieving the results outlined in the CAPF through an Annual Review of Aid Effectiveness. The Annual Review will cover aid spending of all government agencies, including AusAID. The first Annual Review is due to Cabinet by the end of October 2012 and will be made publicly available soon after.
The development and publication of the CAPF is unprecedented in the history of the aid program. It represents a very high standard in budget forecasting, aid predictability, transparency and accountability, which is matched by very few other donors worldwide.
Transparency and accountability
New Transparency Charter
On 23 November 2011, the Government launched a new Transparency Charter, which commits the Government to provide timely and accessible information on Australia’s aid program.
In line with the Charter, more information on the aid program is now available through the roll-out of newly developed webpages. Detailed information about the work the Australian aid program is doing in Vanuatu, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Solomon Islands, East Timor, Fiji, Vietnam, Nauru and Myanmar has been released. All AusAID programs will have transparency pages in this format by the end of 2012.
The Charter builds on practical steps already undertaken by AusAID to improve the transparency of Australia’s aid program, including:
- through the 2011–12 and 2012–13 Aid Budget Statements, which provide substantially more information on the results of the aid program, country information and, in the 2012-13 Aid Budget, details of aid spending by Australian Government agencies other than from AusAID
- through the Information Publication Scheme, which publishes a range of information about the work of AusAID. As of May 2012, over 1100 documents had been registered into the system on the AusAID website.
Australian Multilateral Assessment
Delivering aid through multilateral organisations allows us to benefit from these organisations' specialist expertise. It extends our reach and impact, particularly in geographic areas where we have no presence on the ground. Multilateral organisations can also deliver programs on a scale beyond the capacity of Australia and other bilateral donors. Australia’s support to multilateral organisations also helps to reduce fragmentation by reducing the number of individual activities within the Australian aid program and helping to consolidate international efforts.
On 30 March 2012, the Australian Government released the Australian Multilateral Assessment (AMA), a formal assessment of the effectiveness of 42 multilateral organisations. The assessment found that most of Australia’s multilateral partners are effective and relevant to Australia’s aid objectives. We are increasing support for multilateral organisations in the 2012-13 Budget based on the Assessment's recommendations, such as by increasing core funding for effective United Nations organisations, including: the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN Women, World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV / AIDS (UNAIDS).
Multilateral performance will be tracked on an ongoing basis through a new multilateral scorecard that assesses the effectiveness and relevance of each multilateral partner. A new Multilateral Engagement Strategy, which will be released shortly, will take forward the findings of the AMA. This will include engagement strategies for Australia’s largest multilateral partners as well as details about the new multilateral scorecard and formal performance management system.
Involving the Australian community
AusAID will make greater use of the talents available in Australia’s
academic and research institutions and
business, as well as members of the wider Australian community.
- released a new Civil Society Engagement Framework, in consultation with the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), to strengthen the Government’s engagement with civil society organisations. The Framework sets out how Australia will work with civil society organisations both in Australia and overseas, to increase the impact of aid for the world’s poorest
- increased funding, to $110 million in 2012-13, to the AusAID NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), which supports 43 accredited Australian NGOs to carry out more than 500 activities in over 50 countries.
- preparing for the first AusAID Consultative Forum with Business, to be held in August 2012. AusAID is working closely with business representatives to prepare the agenda, including through regular meetings of the AusAID-chaired Business Engagement Steering Committee
- developing a Private Sector Development Strategy, informed by Australian business experience and expertise. This will outline how the Australian aid program will support the development of the private sector in our partner countries.
- increasing funding for Australia’s volunteer program, Australian Volunteers for International Development, from $55 million in 2011–12 to $63 million in 2012-13. This will support approximately 1,850 Australians on new and continuing volunteer assignments in more than 40 countries.
- supporting the Australian and overseas development research community in producing and disseminating quality research materials
- establishing research partnerships on topics of strategic importance to Australia’s development cooperation program.
Direction and focus
New Independent Evaluation Committee
In line with commitments made in Australia’s aid policy, the Minister has announced the establishment of an Independent Evaluation Committee (IEC), to be chaired by Jim Adams, a former Vice President of the World Bank.
The IEC is an advisory body with a whole-of-government mandate. It will provide independent expert evaluation advice to the Development Effectiveness Steering Committee, which provides advice to the Government on Overseas Development Assistance priorities and effectiveness. The IEC will also oversee the work program of the Office of Development Effectiveness in planning, commissioning, managing and disseminating a high quality evaluation program. This will include the preparation of an annual evaluation summary and quality assurance report.
The first meeting of the IEC was held on 21 June 2012.
Evaluation and performance oversight
The Australian aid program is subject to regular external oversight by several bodies, both domestic and international, that evaluate performance and quality against Australian and global standards. AusAID’s Program Performance Management System includes:
Fraud, audit and risk
The Australian aid program works in many difficult environments where corruption can be rife. A pragmatic approach to risk management is required to effectively manage risk and guard against fraud, while delivering programs and assistance to those in need. A Risk Management Framework for the aid program is in place, and AusAID's Fraud Policy Statement stresses the obligation of all personnel, managing contractors and NGOs to identify and report fraud.
AusAID recognises that fraud management is critical to aid effectiveness and has increased its investment in risk management, fraud control and internal audit. This includes additional dedicated fraud control staff in Canberra and in countries with the highest incidence of fraud, such as Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Value for money
We are continuing to drive value for money, including through strengthening our internal quality reporting systems, through a review of procurement practices and building on the recent review of advisers.
In 2011, AusAID significantly reformed the use of advisers in the aid program by introducing the Adviser Remuneration Framework. This sets structured and benchmarked professional fees and a restricted set of allowances that apply to all commercially-engaged international advisers.
The Adviser Stocktake: Report 2—1 July to 31 December 2011, released on 26 March 2012, shows that average rates of pay for advisers have fallen markedly since the introduction of the Adviser Remuneration Framework. For example, the average daily fee for short-term international advisers has fallen 41.1 per cent and the average monthly remuneration package for a long-term adviser has fallen 34.1 per cent. For more information, please refer to the use of advisers in the Australian aid program.
A separate review into pay and conditions offered to public servants engaged overseas as aid advisers has also been completed. From this review, a clear framework for salaries and a standard package of allowance and benefits has been introduced. This will ensure the conditions of service for public servants posted overseas under the aid program are consistent across positions, countries and Government departments. This reflects the Government’s ongoing commitment to ensure that Australia’s aid program is effective and that when advisers are used, they represent a value for money response to mutually agreed needs and priorities.