Want DFID Grant Funding? Then Use Digital Principles in Your Proposals

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The Department for International Development (DFID) is a United Kingdom government department responsible for administering £10.9 billion GBP in overseas aid. It has the goal of promoting sustainable development and eliminating world poverty. DFID is a key donor supporting information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D).
Digital Principles are Core to DFID Procurement
DFID leads the world at open, modern and innovative approaches to development and digital technologies are at the heart of it’s work. DFID uses cutting-edge technology to lift millions of people out of poverty.
DFID’s Digital Strategy for Doing Development in a Digital World builds on it’s rich legacy and supports UK’s efforts to make sure the global aid system is ready for the challenges of the 21st century. The Principles for Digital Development are a cornerstone to this strategy.
The Digital Principles are a set of guidelines that have been agreed as a result of consultation with donors and NGOs globally. They are a set of living guidance intended to help practitioners succeed in applying digital technologies to development programs and should be modified to fit specific contexts and environments.
The UK was the 100th endorser of the Digital Principles and you can see the impact of the Principles in the two key documents for DFID grant funding:

  • The guidance on digital spend advice and controls for DFID partners and suppliers
  • The DFID supply partner code of conduct

Each of these documents references the need for DFID funding applicants to follow the Digital Principles, or better yet fully endorse the Digital Principles on an organizational level.
DFID Guidance on Partner’s Digital Spend
DFID’s guidance on digital spend advice and controls for DFID partners and suppliers explains the UK Government’s standards for the use of digital solutions in international development programmes. It sets out DFID’s expectations when submitting digital proposals and explains how to engage with the Digital Service Team through the procurement process.
The UK government defines digital spend as any external-facing service provided through the internet to citizens, businesses, civil society or non-government organizations, which applies to:

  • Web-based or mobile information services, including mapping tools,
  • Websites, knowledge or open data portals,
  • Transactional services such as cash transfers,
  • Web applications, mobile phone applications, and mobile delivery systems.

In any new procurement, DFID requires partners and suppliers to set out how they will adhere to the relevant Principles for Digital Development, which are based on and closely match the UK Government’s design principles.
DFID Supply Partner Code of Conduct
DFID aims to create an inclusive culture of best practice with the delivery partners with whom it engages and which receive UK taxpayers’ funds. All Supply Partners should adhere to the overarching principles of the Supply Partner Code of Conduct.
Overall, the main principles for DFID Supply Partners includes:

  • Acting responsibly and with integrity
  • Being transparent and accountable
  • Seeking to improve value for money
  • Demonstrating commitment to poverty reduction and DFID priorities
  • Demonstrating commitment to wider HMG priorities

The supplier code of conduct states that all DFID Supply Partners who manage aid programmes with a digital element must adhere to the global Principles for Digital Development, which sets out best practice in technology-enabled programmes.
Suppliers must update their documentation if they change their adherence to the Digital Principles. DFID can conduct annual contract review compliance checks to ensure that the supplier is following the Digital Principles.
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