Dear DFID, could you bring back the old days?

So the UK’s esteemed Department for International Development (DFID) has moved to a fanciful new website (well that was a few months back) under the Tory-Lib Dem gov.uk domain. Personally, the new layout is terrible and every single old document, even those from May 2010 to mid 2013 are hard to access.

Speaking of access, DFID archives are also another mountain to climb. But looking back at DFID’s “past”, that is, when it was under the Labour government from 1997 to 2010, you find several documents that the new coalition government failed to reproduce. One such series was the “Institutional Strategy Papers” series, detailing DFID’s approach towards various International Organisations (IOs). These ISPs were akin to report cards for IOs, even though there’s wasn’t an actual score. In the case of the World Bank Group (my interest), there were two main ISPs, one in 2000 and another in 2004. These were accompanied by “End of Cycle” reviews–for 2000 and for 2004.

Then there were also DFID’s reports to the UK Parliament simply titled “The UK and the World Bank”. They were several of them: a report for 2004, for 2005, for 2006-07, for 2007-09 and a report for 2009 (I can’t find the link now).

Most significantly, Labour/New Labour’s DFID created four White Papers on International Development. They were published in 1997, 2000, 2006 and 2009. These White Papers set out ambitious goals for DFID and HM Government, although soem goals were no fully achieved before Labour lost the 2010 election.

Fast forward to Tory-Lib Dem rule since mid 2010. DFID, under Tory control (and only recently had one Lib Dem Minister), has no ISPs published, no annual reports to parliament about “The UK and the World Bank” and no White Papers since the coalition came into power. Yes they did publish this recent report and there’s the Multilateral Aid Review. Even so, there’s no succinct blueprint over how DFID would engage the World Bank constantly. Without a White Paper ever few years, there’s just no major blueprint for DFID for others to see.

Could you bring back the old days?


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