AusAID to Ax 257 Adviser Posts After Review Finds 'Over-reliance' on Experts

    Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd visits staff at AusAID in September. Rudd announced Feb. 15 the completion of a review of technical adviser positions in AusAID programs. Photo by: Commonwealth of Australia

    AusAID will phase out 257 adviser positions in its aid programs across 20 countries following a review indicating “over-reliance” on the use of advisers in AusAID-backed development schemes.

    In May, the Australian government announced a review of technical adviser positions in its bilateral aid programs. The review, which assessed 952 adviser positions, was completed Feb. 15.

    “Over the past decade, and under the previous Government, the Australian aid program had come to rely increasing on highly paid advisers as its preferred form of aid - that is now changing,” Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said in a Feb. 15 statement.

    The review report, however, clarified that the positions to be phased out “do not reflect inappropriate use of aid funds.” In some of the aid-recipient nations, the adviser posts are no longer required, or development prorities have changed.

    The aid program in Papua New Guinea will see the largest reduction in adviser positions, at 181, followed by AusAID’s Timor Leste program, at 29. These cuts were already announced by the Australian government in October.

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    For the aid programs in Timor Leste and Papua New Guinea, the review recommended a shift away from the traditional “adviser–counterpart” system, where advisers build the capacity of an individual, to a method using advisers to provide support to teams and organizations. Advisers in both countries should also assume in-line positions where they will occupy established government positions, “where appropriate,” the review said.

    The review also called for a “clear” policy position and minimum standards on the use and remuneration of advisers in the Australian aid program.

    “More careful design of adviser assignments is needed, which clearly identifies the objectives of the assignment and the skills and attributes required of advisers,” according to the review report.

    Read more development aid news.

    About the author

    • Ma. Rizza Leonzon

      As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.