Brits abroad

Think tank: Adam Smith Institute

Author(s): Tim Ambler

July 7, 2022

This report from UK think tank the Adam Smith Institute looks at reforming the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office.

The Adam Smith Institute’s latest discussion paper, written by Tim Ambler, proposes a number of reforms to improve the efficiency and value for money of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. This paper is part of the Adam Smith Institute’s “Reforming the Civil Service” series. The size and structure of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development (FCDO) should be overhauled to better suit the reality of the UK’s position in the world; Despite recent structural changes, the department lacks a coherent vision, organisation, leadership or clear lines of communication across a very widespread portfolio; There is little transparency about how its UK-based staff are allocated to departmental priorities and a significant headcount reduction after restructuring is both achievable and desirable for efficiency and the best use of taxpayer money; The FCDO should consider choosing fewer, more targeted, overseas development aid recipients with a focus on the most impoverished nations who are not receiving adequate provision from elsewhere; Whilst some FCDO arm’s length bodies perform effectively, there is a case for slimming down, merging or no longer maintaining several of them; The paper also considers the Department for International Trade (DIT), which lacks clear performance metrics and suffers from an imbalance of headquarters staff in comparison to International Trade Advisers.