Australia's International Development Assistance Program 2013–14
Performance management and evaluation
The Australian aid program is subject to regular and robust performance management measures. These measures ensure the aid program is delivered effectively and efficiently and that the aid program is held accountable for the results it achieves. Under its Transparency Charter, AusAID has also committed to providing detailed and timely information on the program's results to the Australian public through the AusAID website.
In January 2013, the first Annual Review of Aid Effectiveness was released, reporting on the progress of the aid program against the strategic goals in the Comprehensive Aid Policy Framework (CAPF). The Annual Review was underpinned by AusAID's extensive internal reporting system, which includes annual self-assessments of aid initiatives and publicly released reports outlining progress and results for all country and key regional programs. This was complemented by input from other government departments delivering the Australian aid program and informed by independent assessments that were conducted by the Office of Development Effectiveness.
Extensive external oversight mechanisms for the Australian aid program are also in place. As a member of the OECD, Australia is subject to regular peer reviews by other donors every four to five years. The most recent peer review report on Australia–released on 6 May 2013–gave Australia a highly positive assessment and showed that Australia is at the forefront of best practice in aid delivery and effectiveness. In addition, under the guidance of the Independent Evaluation Committee, the Office of Development Effectiveness continues to provide robust, independent evaluations of the effectiveness of Australian aid. The aid program is also subject to regular Senate Estimates processes and Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) performance reviews.
6.1. Performance management
In Effective Aid and the CAPF, the Government emphasised the importance of delivering Australian aid more effectively and efficiently in order to achieve better development results and greater value for money. This has translated into further reform of AusAID's already well-developed performance management processes, the introduction of systematic results reporting, and a whole-of-government commitment to introduce uniform standards to a range of program management areas, including performance management.
The Performance Management and Evaluation Policy (PMEP) aims to ensure the aid program is effective, transparent and focused on results. It sets out expectations for performance management for delivering Australian aid. It also reflects directions outlined in An Effective Aid Program for Australia, including the introduction of the CAPF and Results Framework, the Annual Review Aid Effectiveness, and the Transparency Charter.
The PMEP outlines performance measures for implementation and performance management, review and evaluation at an agency, program and individual initiative level. These measures include:
- annual program performance reports, which assess the results and ongoing quality of programs and progress against overall program objectives
- Quality at Implementation (QAI) reports, which assess progress against individual initiative objectives
- independent evaluations, which must be conducted at least once during the lifetime of all significant initiatives
- annual multilateral scorecards, which track the performance of multilateral agencies.
Given the difficult circumstances in which AusAID delivers assistance, it is to be expected that a small number of initiatives will not fully achieve intended results. QAI reports help identify these initiatives, and new processes to deal with them were introduced in 2012-13. These include assigning a member of the senior executive to monitor each of these initiatives more closely; developing formal remediation plans; and, where appropriate, cancelling initiatives.
Improvements to the performance management system strengthen AusAID's development as a results-based agency that is focused on the monitoring and reporting of real, measurable results. Over the last year, AusAID's policy and guidelines on performance management have been significantly strengthened and they will continue to be monitored to ensure they remain relevant and useful. In 2013-14, the focus of work will be supporting country programs and thematic areas to better implement AusAID's performance management system and to improve the quality of performance management products.
6.2. Evaluation and review
OECD DAC Peer Review
Australia is an active member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC). As a condition of membership, Australia's development assistance program has recently undergone a peer review. Peer reviews help Australia understand how it can improve aid effectiveness, and allow us to learn from the experiences of other donors.
During the review, members of an independent review team led by Canada and the European Union visited Canberra and the Philippines. The review team met with representatives from AusAID and other government departments, partner governments, non-government organisations, the private sector and academia.
The final peer review report commends Australia for its transparent, effective and dynamic approach to development cooperation. The DAC found that other international donors can learn from many aspects of Australia's aid program, demonstrating how highly regarded the Australian aid program is amongst our peers. In particular, Australia was praised for its international leadership in disability inclusive development and development in fragile and conflict-affected states. Australia was also commended for its exemplary commitment to transparency and focus on achieving results. The report recognised the exceptional management of AusAID's organisational reform efforts, having transformed into a highly efficient, flexible and innovative organisation.
The report makes 11 recommendations, including increasing the percentage of aid delivered through partner systems and expanding the disaster risk reduction program. The results of the peer review can be found on the OECD DAC website at www.oecd.org/dac/peer-reviews/australia.htm
Annual Review of Aid Effectiveness
The first Annual Review of Aid Effectiveness assessing the performance of the Australian aid program across whole of Government for the 2011–12 financial year was released in January 2013. The purpose of the Annual Review is to inform development of the four-year aid budget strategy and to report on the progress of the aid program against the strategic aid goals and targets detailed in the CAPF.
The Annual Review is compiled from the input of nearly 60 Australian Government agencies delivering the Australian aid program and is overseen by the Development Effectiveness Steering Committee. The 2013 Annual Review will provide the opportunity to build on the first review and will assess the first full year of the aid program since the release of the CAPF.
AusAID annual report
AusAID's annual report is prepared according to parliamentary reporting requirements and published in October each year. It reports on AusAID's performance against the outcomes and programs framework outlined in the Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio Budget Statements. The next report, to be published in October 2013, will report on AusAID's performance against the aid program's objectives.
Office of Development Effectiveness
Established in 2006, the Office of Development Effectiveness (ODE) builds stronger evidence for more effective aid by monitoring the quality and evaluating the impact of the Australian aid program. ODE draws its evidence from in-depth evaluations and reviews of Australian aid and analysis of AusAID performance systems. Although still within AusAID, ODE operates independently from, but in collaboration with, AusAID programming areas and reports directly to AusAID's Director General.
ODE's 2013–14 evaluation workplan will continue to provide important insights into the effectiveness of Australia's development support as well as recommendations for improvements. In 2013–14, ODE will complete its first Synthesis of Evaluations and Quality Assurance Report (SEQA)–a comprehensive review of ODE evaluations to date. It will also complete its first Synthesis of AusAID Evaluations, which will analyse the findings of evaluations conducted by AusAID's operational areas. All published evaluations can be found on ODE's website at www.ode.ausaid.gov.au/.
ODE continues to support ongoing partnerships with international agencies that specialise in enhancing development evaluation. These include the International Institute for Impact Evaluation (3IE) and the World Bank's Regional Centres for Learning on Evaluation and Results (CLEAR) and Better Evaluation.
Independent Evaluation Committee
The Independent Evaluation Committee (IEC) is a four-member (three external, one AusAID) independent advisory body that was announced by Government in May 2012 and established in June 2012. It oversees and quality assures ODE's evaluation work and provides expert advice to the Development Effectiveness Steering Committee (DESC). The membership of the IEC includes professionals and evaluation academics. The IEC meets four times a year. Communiques from IEC's meetings are published on the ODE website at www.ode.ausaid.gov.au/publications/index.html
Box 9: Civil society evaluation
The Australian Government is committed to improving the transparency of the Australian aid program and introduced its Transparency Charter in November 2011.
AusAID met its target of providing detailed information on country programs on its website by the end of 2012. The website is regularly updated to ensure information is current.
AusAID's efforts saw its overall score on the Publish What You Fund Transparency Index more than double from 2011 to 2012–the largest increase by any donor country aid agency.
Program information on the website
Transparency principles were applied to the AusAID website for 33 country, 6 regional, 17 thematic and 11 specific programs. Web content for 17 major and 5 minor country programs will be translated into local languages by 30 June 2013.
The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) registry contains AusAID documents published on the AusAID website since July 2011 and data files for a total of 127 countries that receive AusAID assistance either bilaterally or through multilateral organisations.
Information Publication Scheme (IPS)
As at 31 December 2012, over 2,600 separate corporate documents had been added to AusAID's IPS registry, providing a growing information source for external researchers. In 2013–14, the registry will undergo a review to ensure it holds accurate and consistent document descriptions, dates, links and associated metadata to support the aims of the Transparency Charter.
The AusAID publication, Australia's International Development Assistance: Statistical Summary, 2011–12, presents statistical details of Australia's historical development cooperation with partner countries, multilateral and bilateral development agencies, civil society organisations and the private sector. It complements the Aid Budget Statement and the AusAID Annual Report, and introduces a range of new tables to meet the varied information requirements of the broader Australian community.
The concepts and definitions used in Australia's International Development Assistance: Statistical Summary, 2011–12 are consistent with the Statistical Reporting Directives of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic and Development Cooperation (OECD).
Estimates for earlier periods are available from the Time Series spread sheets located on the AusAID website, www.ausaid.gov.au. The Time Series spread sheets enable users to tabulate, manipulate and analyse Australian aid data over time.
Whole of government official development assistance
A whole of government working group was established to introduce the Transparency Initiative to all relevant government departments delivering ODA. Details of all other government departments' ODA will be published on AusAID's website by June 2013.