Overseas aid under new pressure as MPs freeze contracts | Global development

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    The government has frozen future contracts with a firm entrusted with £268m of development cash after a scathing report from MPs on the company’s “inappropriate” conduct.

    The report released on Sunday censures Adam Smith International (ASI) for acting with a “serious lack of judgement”, making up testimonials for its aid delivery, and pressuring people to give glowing responses by implying their funding could otherwise be cut.

    The Department for International Development (DfID) reacted swiftly to the findings of the international development committee (IDC), with a spokesman saying it shared concerns about ASI’s “culture and behaviour”.

    He added: “DfID has conducted its own forensic investigation into the allegations that ASI falsified submissions to the IDC and made use of improperly obtained DfID documents for commercial gain. Since these allegations came to light, we have frozen awards of new contracts to ASI and are taking detailed advice on next steps.”

    ASI, which is paid to carry out development projects in Africa and Asia for the UK government, released a statement defending its activities as having been in “good faith”.

    The Labour MP Stephen Twigg, who chairs the IDC, said there were concerns over how ASI operated, including the methods used to secure DfID contracts. Other profit-making contractors were also being looked at. “This is only one aspect of our ongoing scrutiny,” Twigg said. “We are supportive of UK aid, so we feel it’s especially important that we are holding to account how that aid is spent.”

    The release of the report comes as DfID itself comes under pressure….

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