Supporting DFID decision-makers: HEART (Health and Education Advice and Resource Team)
This framework programme is supporting the use of evidence and expert advice to underpin high-quality development decision-making. We are leading a consortium of specialist partners managing DFID’s Expert advice call downs service (EACDS) framework for health, nutrition, WASH, Social protection and education. Together, the twelve consortium partners form the High-quality technical assistance for results (HEART), providing call-down consultancy and rapid response to time-pressured DFID advisers and other development actors. Unrivalled access to an extensive network of trusted consultants, specialist academics and technical experts ensures that HEART can respond rapidly and efficiently to DFID requests for support. Quality assurance mechanisms are built into the HEART operating model at all stages and a strong emphasis on knowledge-sharing and service integration is helping to ensure that HEART is adding maximum value to enhance the impact to a portfolio of DFID projects.
In order to deliver high quality development policy and programmes, DFID advisers require access to a range of external support services. These may include access to rapid response, high-quality evidence services to address operational questions and support the completion of time-sensitive projects as well as more in-depth knowledge and information in a particular relevant field. DFID country offices in particular may also require additional technical and specialist workforce resources to inform policy recommendations and support project implementation. Framework agreements have been established across the major areas of DFID’s work to meet these support needs in the most effective and cost-efficient way. Each agreement establishes a common level of professional evidence and applied knowledge services available to DFID staff and other development actors.
Education, health, WASH, Social protection and nutrition are all key priorities for DFID, as highlighted in the department’s 2015 strategic plan. We are leading a consortium of specialist partners managing DFID’s Expert advice call down service (EACDS) framework for health, nutrition, WASH, social protection and education. Together, the Twelve consortium partners form the high-quality technical assistance for results Team (HEART), providing the following consultancy to support time-pressured decision-makers: On-demand operational support to supplement existing capacity and provide additional technical expertise Dedicated HEART website, hosting knowledge products and additional resources HEART is organised to respond to the needs of advisors as quickly and efficiency as possible. The team has access to partner expertise in all 26 DFID priority countries as well as a growing database of trusted consultant contacts to draw from. A full-time administrative team ensures that all support requests from DFID are dealt with centrally to avoid delays and duplication and coordinates the shortlisting, contracting and management of consultants. Quality assurance mechanisms are embedded at all stages of the HEART operational model. The HEART management team includes technical leads for health, nutrition, WASH, social protection and education who act as points of contact for all requests for consultancy support requests, ensuring that advisers are directed to technical experts who can best support their needs. Similarly, the strategic location of staff within academic institutions means that HEART’s services benefit from access to peer-reviewed journals and subject specialists who can be called on to act in an advisory or review role. In addition, all outputs from consultancy call-down projects are subject to peer review to ensure the technical rigour, relevance and consistency of evidence, conclusions and recommendations. Feedback plays an important role throughout HEART operations, with procedures in place for capturing client and consultant feedback across key services. By actively responding to feedback, the team is able to quickly implement recommendations from key learnings, improving the value and efficiency of its operations.
HEART has established and institutionalised effective operational procedures for meeting the needs of clients quickly and efficiently. Project areas include strategic planning, support to business case development, value-for-money assessments and super-specialist support. In addition, the greater integration of HEART services is resulting in a number of cost and efficiency savings in-line with the programmes’ overall aim of enhancing the impact of development projects.