Since Korea’s accession to the OECD Development Assistance Committee in 2010, there has been a continuous rise in Korea’s aid budget as well as the number of government ministries and public agencies engaging in the aid industry. The proliferation of new actors has led to growing concerns on the organizational capacity to ensure aid effectiveness of new aid-spending ministries and agencies. Aside from the main aid agencies such as the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the Economic Development and Cooperation Fund (EDCF) under the Export-Import Bank of Korea, the number of government ministries and public agencies (hereafter referred to as non-aid agencies) that spend aid budget is up to forty-one as of the financial year 2021. In terms of budget composition, the non-aid agencies account for approximately half of Korea’s grant aid budget.
In this context, this paper reviews aid management schemes at Korea’s aid agencies as well as non-aid agencies with special attention on their organizational capacity to ensure aid effectiveness and results-based management. Chapter two starts by reviewing the aid management schemes of Korea’s aid agencies and non-aid agencies in terms of their aid strategy and programs, key channels and modalities, budget allocation and result-management system. In addition, the paper moves on to analyze the aid portfolio and governance mechanism of the fourteen top aid-spending agencies, examining whether and to what extent there exists a strategic coordination system among multiple executing agencies to ensure internal coherence of their projects and programs. Based on a case-study approach, chapter three explores the cases of three agencies that have different cooperation schemes for results management and evaluation. The first model is the case of the main grant aid agency, namely KOICA, which has an independent evaluation unit within the agency. The second model is the case of the Ministry of Health and Welfare and its executing agency, the Korea Foundation for International Healthcare (KOFIH), which incorporates an evaluation function within the agency. The organizational structure for evaluation at the KOFIH is somehow similar to that of the KOICA, albeit with much smaller budget. The third model is the case of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and its main executing agency, the Korea Rural Community Corporation, which delegates the evaluation function to the state-led think tank, the Korea Rural Economic Institute. Having evaluation functions within or outside the agency, the experience of these three agencies provides valuable lessons for other agencies with relatively limited budget, human resources and expertise. It was found that in order to strengthen evidence-based policy and implementation and ensure aid effectiveness, Korea’s aid agencies need to invest more on building evaluation expertise, addressing resource constraints and make more efforts to use and learn from the evaluation results and recommendations.
Based on the analysis, the paper concludes with suggestions for future policy direction. Amid the growing demand for evidence-based decision-making and value for money, it is recommended that the Korean government introduce periodical assessment of results management systems at Korea’s aid agencies and strengthen strategic evaluation and learning systems for increasingly diverse actors in aid industries. The paper also suggests that the newly established Office for International Development Cooperation under the Office for Government Policy Coordination of Korea exercise enhanced leadership to provide policy directions and guidelines in the realm of results-based management and evaluation systems for Korea’s aid and non-aid agencies.