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Thursday, 22 January 2015

How do you spend £3.7bn in just 8 weeks?

The Telegraph

Answer: ask the Department for International Development (Dfid), which has turned sensible spending plans on their head 

How do you spend £3.7 billion in just eight weeks? In a Government supposedly wracked by austerity, this was the unusual problem faced by officials at the Department for International Development (Dfid) in 2013.

All around, their Whitehall colleagues were finding ways of imposing cuts, but in Dfid’s imposing new headquarters off Trafalgar Square, the big worry was how to shovel money out of the door.

This is the central message of the latest report on Dfid from the National Audit Office. The most powerful objection to the Government’s promise to devote 0.7 per cent of national income to overseas aid was that spending money would then become an end in itself.

The rational way to run anything – whether a Whitehall department or a fish and chip shop – is to decide what you want to achieve and then spend as little as you can get away with. Once you subordinate everything to hitting a spending target, you turn the rules of rational management on their head.

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