Close to 100 technical advisers formerly employed by the U.K. Department for International Development have left the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office since a departmental merger in September 2020.
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A freedom of information request revealed that 94 former DFID advisers left FCDO between Sept. 1, 2020, and Nov. 30, 2021, and no one was hired to replace them.
Exclusive: Over 200 ex-DFID staffers have left UK’s FCDO since merger
There have been long-standing concerns about the U.K. government losing expertise as a result of DFID’s merger into FCDO. Development experts say they worry these fears are now being realized.
“The Heads of Profession Group who are responsible for the 13 Technical Advisory Cadres have not run any internal or external accreditation processes during the period [Sept. 2020 to Nov. 2021],” according to the FOI.
Last year, as a result of a separate FOI request, Devex reported that 213 former DFID staff had left FCDO since the controversial merger between September 2020 and September 2021.
Follow-up information provided by FCDO showed that of those 213 staff, 40 held policy roles, 12 were in program management, and 19 were in an undefined “DFID leadership” category.
Data sharing policies meant the precise breakdown of the number of people who left technical advisory roles during this time was restricted. But the departures included experts in climate, conflict, education, evaluation, governance, health, humanitarian, stabilization, social development, livelihoods, and trade.
Six people left economics positions, seven private sector development experts left, five went from statistics, and 12 people left communications jobs.
There were also departures from operational jobs, including 25 in operational delivery, 16 in information technology, 14 in procurement, 13 from human resources, and nine from finance.
Why does it matter: DFID’s advisory cadres were seen as crucial to the department’s reputation for development expertise.
Concern about the extent of FCDO’s development expertise has been growing since the merger, compounded by worries about a “strategic workforce review” in the department, which could see further reductions to staff.