AN AUDIT OF A HUGE, publicly funded scheme like Australia's aid program it is fairly useless unless the auditors examine previously set benchmarks and achievements against these benchmarks and targets.
Any audit report should be transparent and available to the public of Australia and the developing country the aid is supposed to be assisting.
That's why I've developed some relevant questions of our aid budget that ought to be on the agenda of the Australian National Audit Office.
The table here is derived from the Development Policy Blog (Country and regional programs with a published, final strategy: Jonathan Pryke)
Here are a few questions that the Australian National Audit Office should be asking:
‘Boomerang aid’ has been a constant negative that developing countries throw up as an indication of why aid programs don’t work.
Total expenditure should be split into funds spent ‘in country’ on behalf of the ‘developing’ country and those funds actually spent in the developing country and therefore presumably assisting that country's domestic budget.
Of the amount that is actually spent in the developing nation, how much is spent on consultancies and expatriate salaries?
Of those AusAID funds actually spent in the developing country, the percentage spent on consultancies and expatriate workers has the effect of siphoning off the total amount spent in country away to external, untaxed bank accounts.
This therefore has questionable effects of the local economy apart from accommodation and service industries in large cities and towns.
Together with each developing country's total aid package, is there a feedback loop to establish the effects and ongoing benefits accruing?
If so, who signs off on this loop? Are those actually benefiting at the coal face or those benefiting in the capital of the nation?
As part of every program and project, has there been adequate ongoing maintenance and training provided to ensure the program or project continues to help those it was designed to assist?
Against what percentage of each local national budgetary item is the AusAID allocation?
If AusAID was not provided, what would be the effect on the developing country’s budget? Without AusAID, what would be the effect on the developing country and her people?
Is the provision of AusAID actually promoting negative development by removing the need by the developing county’s government to provide these services and projects?
Excessive aid monies can create a negative impact by removing any incentive for the local government to actually look after the country’s own problems.
What percentage of each country's AusAID allocation is actually expended in rural (non metropolitan) areas on rural programs benefiting those in rural areas?
In other words, where did the aid funds actually get spent? Was it on service providers and corrupt government programs that did nothing for the actual people at the grass roots?
Finally, did the auditors actually go into the field and check first hand the benefits accrued in each program or did they only check the written reports submitted by AusAID and expatriate consultancies?
This is the clincher. Did ANAO officers physically check the results of each program at the grass roots and if so, make an independent determination as to the efficacy of the funding program as a whole?
What substantial, long term benefits were achieved by the provision of the aid? What evidence is there to substantiate the ANAO view?