Statement: IDC report

In December 2016 the Mail on Sunday published a number of allegations about Adam Smith International. The primary allegation was that the Company “faked” testimonials from beneficiaries on the value of DFID-funded projects submitted to the International Development Committee (IDC).

In response to a request from the IDC we conducted a rigorous investigation and have been completely transparent about the findings, which the Committee recognises. On 12th February, the IDC published its own report.

It found the following:

  • Beneficiaries and counterparts themselves wrote or signed off all of the testimonials submitted. 
  • Adam Smith International did not “fake” any testimonials; the Committee was not misled about facts or told untruths.

We are pleased to have been cleared of the central allegations. However, the IDC concluded that we had ‘overstepped the mark’ whilst encouraging beneficiaries to submit testimonials.

We acted entirely in good faith to encourage beneficiaries of contracted aid programmes to send in their own views on DFID’s use of contractors to the IDC.  We understood from DFID that it wanted support in soliciting testimonials from beneficiaries for submission to the 2016 IDC inquiry on DFID’s use of contractors. We were keen for beneficiaries to provide details of the positive impact of the DFID programmes because we had been disappointed by the constant attacks on UK aid and the relative absence in the media of accurate information about the huge successes that are achieved, particularly by contracted programmes.

However, clearly there were mistakes made, most notably in the failure to clearly identify and discuss with the IDC the process undertaken in order to secure and submit the testimonials. In addition, in the short time available we were not effective enough in getting across the purpose of the inquiry to all beneficiaries.  We have extended our sincere regrets.

In hindsight we can see that we were over-ambitious in encouraging a large number of beneficiaries to submit evidence in the short period available. When a significant number indicated agreement but requested drafts, this put us in a difficult situation which was not easy to manage, given communication problems, particularly in those cases where beneficiaries decided to help at the last minute.

We are reflecting very carefully on the findings of the IDC report and we have already taken rigorous steps to tighten procedures and strengthen oversight.

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