1)The processes for managing regional and thematic programmes are highly complex. In part, this reflects the difficulty of designing programmes so that they blend the (top-down) strategic objectives set by the NSC with the (bottom-up) needs of fragile and conflict-affected states. This strategic direction for the use of the funding is the principal defining feature of the CSSF in comparison with its predecessor, the Conflict Pool. However, the complexity of the management processes also reflects the particular cross-departmental design of the CSSF itself. One option when the CSSF was designed was to create a new central unit that would direct and co-ordinate the CSSF-funded activity of Departments and agencies in support of the NSC’s strategies. Instead, the CSSF was grafted onto the existing structures and processes of Whitehall in an effort to join up departmental activity and create a central point of strategic direction and overview. The key cross-departmental bodies in this design are:
The line of accountability between these bodies is set out in a flowchart in Annex C of the Government’s written evidence.
2)The NSC provides the strategic direction for the CSSF via the regional, country and thematic strategies that it agrees each spring on the basis of the current performance of the CSSF, other departmental activity and changing Government priorities. These strategies guide all UK government activity, whether departmental or cross-government, in those countries deemed both at risk of instability and of strategic importance to the UK. All CSSF programmes must support the delivery of specific objectives contained within the NSC strategies, as well as addressing the causes and effects of local instability.
3)There are currently more than 40 strategies covering nine regions and themes: Africa; Americas; Asia Pacific/South East Asia; Eastern Europe and Central Asia; Middle East and North Africa; Multilateral; Overseas Territories; South Asia; Western Balkans. The NSC strategies undergo regular review by the Quarterly Review Panel. The Panel assesses the effectiveness of the CSSF in contributing to the NSC strategies and, when necessary, provides direction to the Regional Boards. The NSC strategies themselves can also be revised during the financial year in response to updated analysis of countries at risk of instability, political opportunities such as the Colombian peace process and crises such as the June 2015 attack on the Tunisian beach resort of Sousse. Where an NSC strategy is revised during the financial year, Regional and Local Boards adjust their programmes and projects accordingly.
4)The process for deciding the annual funding allocation for each CSSF region and theme begins in the summer, when teams at Embassies and in Departments submit costed programme and project proposals. Those proposals selected by the Regional Boards are reviewed by the Joint Programme Hub, which ensures that they are clearly linked to the NSC strategies and meet minimum design standards. In the autumn, the National Security Adviser and the Permanent Secretaries of all NSC Departments meet to consider the recommendations submitted by the Joint Programme Hub on the basis of the bids received and the performance of the CSSF during the current financial year. The NSC then finalises the headline funding allocations for the following financial year on the basis of the National Security Adviser’s proposals. As with the NSC strategies, however, the allocations can be altered during the financial year in response to crises and opportunities. In 2015–16, for example, the NSC requested the release of £7.6 million to set up the Organised Immigration Crime Taskforce in response to unprecedented migration into the European Union.
5)The Director-level Regional Boards in London are the key instrument in the management of the CSSF. Their cross-departmental membership is intended to ensure a whole-of-government approach to the selection and management of regional, country and thematic programmes in support of the NSC strategies, even where the programmes are led by a single Department. The Regional Boards’ responsibilities include:
6)Although the NSC recommends country allocations, the Regional Boards have considerable freedom in deciding how best to spend the funding allocated to them each year by the NSC. This might include, for example, setting aside money for region-wide activities—as the Africa Regional Board has done—or authorising Local Boards to approve programmes or projects below an agreed financial threshold. The larger CSSF programmes, however, may also be subject to parallel approval and oversight by the lead Department. This will depend on the Department’s internal procedures for programme management, financial accountability and ministerial sign-off.
7)Once a programme has been approved by either the Regional Board or the Local Board, its management, including financial accountability, falls to the lead Department, which is often identified during the initial design process. The Local Board provides support in maintaining oversight of programme delivery and in ensuring that Departments work together to deliver programmes and their subsidiary projects in country, which is another element of the whole-of-government approach.
8)A range of actors can deliver CSSF programmes and projects, depending on which option offers the best value for money and whether the Government has staff with the right skills and expertise in house:
The latter group are often, but not always, engaged via the CSSF Procurement Framework. The Framework was launched in November 2015 to create a “more streamlined and efficient procurement tool” for the CSSF by providing a core group of vetted suppliers covering a range of thematic and geographical areas. Seventy-five organisations, ranging from large development consultancies to small civil society organisations, were accepted as Framework Suppliers in three categories:
9)Some Framework Suppliers belong to more than one Lot and can therefore bid for more than one category of project. In addition, organisations that are not Framework Suppliers can nevertheless engage with the CSSF by partnering with, or becoming part of consortia led by, established Framework Suppliers. The Government told us that the total contract value awarded through the Framework will be approximately £200 million by the end of the CSSF’s second year in operation, in March 2017. This is less than a fifth of the combined regional and thematic programmes budget in 2015–16 and 2016–17. The rest of the programmes budget is accounted for by Embassies directly contracting external suppliers to deliver CSSF programmes, by Government Departments and agencies delivering CSSF programmes themselves and by funding granted to multilateral organisations for activity that meets the goals of the CSSF.
10)The Conflict Pool was criticised in 2012 by the National Audit Office (NAO) and the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) for the weakness of its monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. By contrast, the Government describes monitoring and evaluation as a “core part” of programme management under the CSSF.
11)The Government says that CSSF teams now “actively monitor their programmes to track delivery and maximise VfM [value for money]” through Results Frameworks, which are compulsory under the CSSF. The Results Frameworks track outputs, outcomes and impact linked to the NSC’s strategic objectives. Monitoring is formally carried out on a quarterly basis, by both Departments and CSSF programme managers. Organisations that receive CSSF funding are required to report on impact, risk management and expenditure. Impact summaries are provided to the Regional Boards for assessment. The Joint Programme Hub also incorporates this information into its quarterly summaries for the Treasury, the National Security Secretariat and the Quarterly Review Panel. Those summaries then inform the reports on the performance of the CSSF that the Quarterly Review Panel submits to the National Security Adviser every six months.
12)All programmes also undergo an annual review, conducted either by a cross-government team or by an external agency. In a change from the procedure used under the Conflict Pool, evaluation is also carried out at the portfolio (country) level. The annual reviews include questions on ‘Lessons Learned’, which are shared by the Joint Programme Hub and the Stabilisation Unit at an annual Framework Supplier workshop. All bids for new or continued funding in the following financial year must identify lessons from previous programmes and projects under the CSSF and demonstrate how they will be applied as the programme is implemented during the following financial year.
157 For a fuller explanation of the role and activities of the Regional Boards, see Appendix 1, paragraphs 5–6.
158 HM Government () para 31
159 HM Government () Annex C
160 HM Government () para 12
161 HM Government () para 13 and Annex B. Melinda Simmons, Director of the Joint Programme Hub, also told us that there are dedicated thematic allocations for migration and counter-terrorism programmes. Q27 [Melinda Simmons]
162 HM Government () para 18
163 HM Government () paras 22, 31
166 HM Government () Annex B
167 Q31; HM Government () para 15 and Annex C
168 For further detail on the roles and responsibilities of Regional Boards, see HM Government () Annex C
169 Q39 [Melinda Simmons]. Each Regional Board determines what it considers to be the appropriate threshold depending on the size of its own budget, thereby leading to differences across the boards.
170 One example given by the National Security Adviser is the £40 million programme in Lebanon. Due to the procedures of the FCO, the lead Department in this instance, project contracts worth more than £10 million were signed off by the Permanent Secretary to the FCO. See Q31; HM Government () para 31
171 HM Government () para 33
172 HM Government () para 34
173 HM Government () para 34
174 HM Government () Annex D, para 56
175 HM Government () para 34
176 [on the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund settlement for 2015–16], 12 March 2015; [on the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund 2015–16 and settlement for 2016–17], 21 July 2016
177 Q39 [Melinda Simmons]; HM Government () para 33. According to the Government, in 2015–16, 18% of the regional and thematic programmes budget was delivered by Government Departments and agencies; 27% by multilateral organisations; 52% by external suppliers; and the remaining 3% by a mixture of these. HM Government () Annex B
178 NAO, , March 2012; ICAI, , Report 12, July 2012
179 HM Government () para 35
180 HM Government () paras 35, 50; Cranfield University () para 2
181 HM Government () para 50
182 HM Government () para 41
183 Cranfield University () para 2
184 HM Government () para 19
185 Q25 [Sir Mark Lyall Grant]
186 HM Government () para 35. The cross-government Stabilisation Unit reviewed nearly two-thirds of programmes at the end of the CSSF’s first year in operation (2015–16). See Q34 [Sir Mark Lyall Grant]
187 Coffey Development International () para 3
188 HM Government () para 37
6 February 2017