Support for government agencies

The Institutional Cooperation Instrument (ICI) is used to support Finnish government agencies' and public bodies' participation in development cooperation. The projects' objective is to strengthen the skills and knowledge of state actors, such as ministries and government agencies, in developing countries.

Principles of support

An ICI project must be based on the needs of the developing country and an initiative of the developing country agency. The activity must aim at capacity development.

Complementary and additional objectives may be, for example, improvement of the partner organisation's services and product development, development of its organisation and reform of ways of action, upgrading of personnel's skills and knowledge, internationalisation and networking.

The developing country agency represents the public sector. The Finnish agencies are government agencies and public bodies (valtion virastot ja laitokset) that belong to the same legal person, namely the government of Finland. Corporations owned by the government are not eligible.

The project duration is from 12 to 48 months.

Preparation of a project proposal

The developing country agency and its Finnish counterpart prepare a preliminary Concept Note and submit it to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The length of a Concept Note is 3 to 10 pages plus appendices.

Concept Notes (application) are sent to the following address:

Ministry for Foreign Affairs, P.O.Box 176, FI-00023 Government, Finland

Registry office: Visiting address: Ritarikatu 2 b, open on working days 8.00–16.15

Mark ICI application and the short form of the regional unit on the envelope.

Concept Notes can also be sent electronically to the public servant in the regional department who is responsible for the target country.  Applications sent to the missions will be forwarded to the regional departments in the Foreign Ministry.

Assessment of a project proposal

Eligibility for the actual project planning phase is based on assessment of Concept Notes in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

The general minimum eligibility criteria are:

  1. The Concept Note is based on a well-grounded need.
  2. The Concept Note's main focus is capacity development.
  3. The Concept Note can make use of the special expertise of a government agency or public body.
  4. The budget of the Concept Note (funding needs) is appropriate for an ICI project.

Projects that meet the minimum criteria are put in an order of priority based on the following factors:

  1. Evidence of the partner country agency’s ownership of the expected results and project approach, including partner country agency’s participation in the preparation of the Concept Note.
  2. Account of concrete aspects that necessitate the project and its anticipated added value to the partner country agency.
  3. Contribution to the objectives of the possible country strategy of the MFA with regard to the partner country as well as the complementarity of the project to other cooperation between Finland and the partner country (including Team Finland work, private sector and civil society support).
  4. Availability of financial resources in the MFA Regional Department.

Approval of a project proposal

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs issues a decision on each proposal in writing. As the activity takes place within the state administration, the decisions cannot be appealed.  Approved project proposals are transferred to the actual project planning phase.

Project planning

Project planning starts after the decision on the project proposal has been given.

Based on the project planning, the Finnish and developing country agencies prepare an actual project plan, which is called a project document. A completed project document can be submitted to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs at any time, because the consideration is not tied to any specific dates.

The Ministry supports project planning by reserving EUR 50 000 for the government agency's project planning phase, and by entitling the agency to support from a Facilitation Consultant during the planning phase.

Funding decision

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs assesses the project document and makes a funding decision after it has received the recommendations of the Ministry's Quality Assurance Group. The funding decision is made based on criteria used in project management, including the project's relevance, effectiveness, feasibility and sustainability.

Provided that a favourable funding decision has been received, the Ministry assigns the Finnish government agency to undertake the ICI project assignment. After the assignment contract and the Memorandum of Understanding have been signed, the Finnish agency is responsible for the implementation of the project.

Facilitation consultant's services

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has hired a Consultancy Company (so-called Facilitation Consultant) to provide support services for the preparation and monitoring of ICI projects.

The Facilitation Consultant supports the Finnish government agencies and public bodies that have received a decision from a regional unit in the Foreign Ministry concerning approval of their project proposal for continued planning.

When the project cycle has advanced to implementation, the Facilitation Consultant also verifies that the Finnish agencies reporting meets the legal, administrative and contractual requirements. The Facilitation Consultant's function is also to support the Finnish government agency in achieving an effective development impact. However, responsibility for the project is born by the parties to the contract.

Manual to help project management

Institutional Cooperation Instrument - Manual is designed to establish common practices for project management.

The Manual and its annexes include templates of the required documents and recommendations that help in the management and monitoring of appropriations for inter-institutional development cooperation.

The guidelines were updated in March 2023. The changes are listed at the beginning of the guidelines.