Most of these salaries stay in Australia and hence this form of aid delivery creates a ‘boomerang aid’ effect.  See also: “Corporatisation

Criticisms of Technical Assistance:

TA is criticised internationally as both expensive and yet to be proven as effective in its stated purpose of capacity development.

  • Research published by the UK-based organisation ActionAid in 2006 found that TA increases the cost of aid by at least 25%.
  • Both the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) and the UN Development Program (UNDP) have expressed concern over the ability of TA to deliver on its capacity building outcomes.(38)

Australia’s over reliance on Technical Assistance has come under increasing criticism for a number of reasons:

  • A 2009 report by the Australian National Audit Office found that about 46% of AusAID’s budget goes to ‘technical assistance’, which is twice the average of other OECD countries.[1] 
  • As at 31 July 2010, there were 1,204 technical advisers in the aid program.  According to AusAID, the average cost for long-term expatriate advisers was $20,015 per month and for short-term advisers, $1,618 per day.[2] Salaries of this magnitude are unattainable for the local staff in aid recipient countries, who work alongside these consultants. TA pay disparities can cause resentment amongst local staff as well as privilege western ‘expert’ advice over local knowledge and experience.
  • A review commissioned by the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea found that “the heavy reliance on technical assistance for capacity building in the Australian aid program to PNG is its most controversial aspect.”[3] Noting that the “capacity building model through advisors” is not working, the review called for a reduction in reliance on technical assistance in the aid program to PNG.
  • In response to the growing criticisms of Australia’s over reliance on technical assistance in the aid program, in the 2010-2011 budget the government announced it would undertake a review on the use of advisers in selected partner countries. In October 2010, the government announced that around one-third of adviser positions in the aid program to PNG and Timor Leste will be phased out within two years; however, the reviews have yet to be made publicly available. It remains to be seen whether the reviews will lead to significant changes in the way capacity building needs are identified and delivered.

Further information:

                AID/WATCH Policy Asks





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Last updated 12 November 2010


[1] ACFID Analysis: Aid budget 2010, p14

[2] Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee, Budget estimates 2010-2011; June 2010, Answers to questions on notice from AusAID, pp. 10-11.


[3] Review of the PNG-Australia Development Cooperation Treaty (1999), 19 April 2010, p 3.


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