Monitoring and evaluation of development cooperation
Development cooperation is subject to strict controls: In addition to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA), many external operators monitor the use of funding and the fulfilment of the set targets.
Development cooperation is monitored
Development cooperation projects and programmes are monitored throughout the project cycle.
In the planning phase, each project or programme is given defined goals and modalities. At the same time, any risks that may be encountered while pursuing the goals and associated means to manage them are assessed. The risks are typically related to stability in society, local partner organisation's skills and capacities or corruption.
In the implementation phase, all those who are engaged in a development cooperation project or programme report on the use of their funding and the results of their work to the Ministry. Officials in the Ministry and embassies follow the progress, the use of funds, the risks involved and the reliability of reporting through steering groups, field visits and mid-term reviews and regular communication. Additionally, the Ministry commissions external auditing companies to perform regular audits and performance audits. This means that experts examine not only bookkeeping but also internal control practices and the quality of the activities.
When a project or programme ends, the implementing agency compiles a final report of the results and submits it to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Any unused funds will be refunded to the Ministry. The results can be assessed also in ex-post evaluations.
Monitoring of multilateral cooperation
UN funds and programmes and international development finance institutions have established their own comprehensive control and monitoring mechanisms in order to ensure that the financial and administrative activities are managed appropriately also in high-risk working environments. These mechanisms include, among other things, systems (hotlines) for reporting misuse of funds and protecting whistleblowers as well as risk-based audit planning and training of staff to prevent corruption and misuse. The use of funds is controlled by both internal and external audit and investigation units and auditors. The efficiency and effectiveness of the activities is assessed in reports and evaluations issued annually.
Internal audit and investigation units are responsible for the organisation's auditing and internal control and report directly to the Executive Board of the agency. The UN Member States, including Finland, monitor the use of funds by participating in the work of each of these supreme decision-making bodies. The internal audit reports have been publicly available on the organisations' websites since September 2012. In international development finance institutions, the integrity of spending is supervised by special units focusing on anti-corruption work and misuse of project funds. They investigate reported cases of misuse, monitor procurement processes and issue recommendations for improvement of practices. Development banks cooperate to prevent cases of misuse, among other things, by exchanging information about companies guilty of misuse of funds and by issuing joint sanctions.
Evaluations refer to reviews of development cooperation and development policy conducted by independent experts. They provide information on how well the set objectives have been met: have the right things been done and has the work been effective. Based on the identified strengths and weaknesses, the evaluators issue recommendations for improvements.
The Development Evaluation Unit (EVA-11) of the MFA is responsible for conducting centralised, large-scale evaluations that are relevant for the Ministry. Other units in the Ministry also commission evaluations to assess individual projects implemented in partner countries or with individual organisations.
Internal audit as a monitoring instrument
The Unit for Internal Audit in the MFA monitors the activities of the Ministry's operative units and the operation of Finland's diplomatic and consular missions abroad. Internal audits of development cooperation are used to examine whether projects and programmes have been subject to sufficient and effective controls. Another objective is to assess if the modalities ensure that the funds are used for the intended purpose. On the basis of its assessments, the Unit for Internal Audit makes recommendations for improving controls and risk management and monitors the implementation of its recommendations.
The Development Policy Committee monitors and evaluates
The Development Policy Committee is an advisory body appointed by the Government. Its members represent the parliamentary parties, interest groups and NGOs, as well as researchers. The Committee monitors and evaluates Finland’s activities in policy areas with an impact on developing countries. It assesses the quality and effectiveness of development cooperation and follows the level of official development cooperation appropriations. The Committee is also active in promoting debate on development issues in Finland.
Misuse is addressed
Development cooperation is conducted in difficult conditions – in countries where the administration does not function properly, people live in extreme poverty and corruption is a problem. The risks involved in the work are assessed and monitored closely, but sometimes they materialise despite the precautions.
All those engaged in development cooperation activities are obligated to report to the Foreign Ministry any misuse or suspicion of misuse of funds that they have detected. In June 2014, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs introduced an online system which anyone can use to report suspicions of misuse of development cooperation funds. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs will investigate all suspicions and misused funds will be recovered. The suspicions are reported to the National Audit Office of Finland and, if necessary, also to the police.
The Ministry receives about 30 reports of suspected misuse of development cooperation funds every year. In most cases, the funds have not been misused on purpose but mistakes are found in bookkeeping and reporting. In the majority of the cases, the target of suspicion is able to provide sufficient additional information, the suspicion proves to be otherwise unfounded, or the funds are returned to the Foreign Ministry without a recovery procedure. Based on decisions made in 2016, the amount claimed for recovery was EUR 151,131 million.
Development cooperation fights corruption
Development cooperation supports the prevention of corruption. Good governance can be promoted by strengthening the supervisory role of national parliaments and the public authorities and by improving access to public information and citizens' opportunities to request information about the resources of development programmes and their results.
In the autumn of 2012, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs published an Anti-corruption Handbook for Development Practitioners, which provides tools for successful development cooperation even in challenging environments.
Do you suspect a misuse of funds?
If you suspect that development cooperation funds are being misappropriated, you can use our public e-service to report it. Misuse can involve, among other things, bribery, embezzlement, or other inappropriate use of funds.
Content administrator Department for Development Policy, Unit for Internal Audit