How to Provide Technical Cooperation Personnel

Department for International Development


This note from the Department for International Development (DFID) outlines the reasons for providing Technical Cooperation (TC) personnel to partner countries and ways that it can be improved. It specifies good practice in the project design, procurement, management and monitoring stages of TC and identifies long-term objectives in the TC approach. Recommendations emphasise that, where there is capacity, partner countries should lead on identifying TC needs and on procuring, managing and monitoring consultants, in pursuit of a more market-based, pooled and aligned TC approach.

TC is the sharing of know-how and expertise. DFID provides TC consultants to partner countries for various purposes: to improve the pro-poor functioning of markets, develop public sector capacity, facilitate South-South cooperation on development, support non-state service delivery and promote poverty reduction advocacy.

TC can complement Poverty Reduction Budget Support programmes by strengthening budgetary systems, assisting reform strategies or developing public financial management systems, where governments lack resources to buy expertise. However, critics condemn TC for operating in an expensive, inefficient market, confusing lines of responsibility and failing to develop partners’ capacity.

In the project design and procurement phases, enhancing partners’ capacity and ownership should be a guiding principle:

  • The project design should be carried out in a joint and systematic way to ensure shared understanding of roles and responsibilities between donor and partner country.
  • TC consultants should be used to share expertise in countries where there is demand and political ownership for them – not to fill public service gaps.
  • TC success is more likely in countries with pre-existing organisational capacity: where there are capacity constraints, TC personnel should be realistic about achievable goals.
  • DFID should assess partner countries’ TC procurement capacity and, where possible, support partners to take more control over procurement.
  • Partners should specify the expertise they require in TC personnel and interview short-listed candidates.
  • There should be no barriers to using local consultants, but the labour market impact of recruiting local consultants should be appraised.
  • If the partner has insufficient capacity to procure directly, DFID should, in procuring, maximise financial and recruitment transparency and support future national procurement capacity.

The Paris Declaration’s target of 50 percent of TC flows to be coordinated according to national development strategies by 2010 will be difficult to meet, especially in post-conflict societies. TC management and monitoring should move towards pooling – increasing donor and government coordination and alignment behind partner policy objectives:

  • Senior managers must provide stronger signals that pooling is the preferred option.
  • Coherent government policy frameworks on TC should be supported as a basis for more donor coordination.
  • Donors should share lessons learnt on TC pooling among each other and maintain good oversight in co-financed TCs.
  • Donors should support basic coordination mechanisms in weak capacity contexts and take context-specific approaches according to partners’ preferences.
  • Management responsibility should be transferred from Project Implementation Units to partner government or non-state institutions wherever possible.
  • Partners should be encouraged to establish outcome-based TC monitoring with baselines, benchmarks and indicators alongside codes of conduct and policy frameworks.
  • DFID statistics should monitor progress on TC pooling: where TC contributes to a wider programme, monitoring should capture the impact of the TC.


DFID, 2006, 'How to Provide Technical Cooperation Personnel', DFID How To Note, Department for International Development, London