How would this work? A small policy, budget allocation and contract management group remains at government level. A public debate is held about objectives for the budget, how to achieve these and evaluate performance. Development charities may then bid for the budgets, showing how their projects will contribute to the objectives.
This approach would open the overseas development agenda to greater public scrutiny, reducing the potential for covert political interference. It would transfer work from highly paid Overseas Development Administration personnel to charity workers, who in many areas do the same job at a much lower cost. It would also improve charity programme management and use of funds by forcing a more rigorous appraisal of benefits and costs of projects.
Finally, value for money should be improved further by stimulating competition between charities, on the merits of their projects. And it would give smaller charities a chance to compete and to innovate in a business dominated by the marketing clout of a few big players to raise voluntary donations.
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