Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Call for project proposals in support of defence reforms in Ukraine [April 2023]

The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 21 April 2023.

The British Embassy Kyiv is accepting bids from NGOs for project work to support defence and security reforms in Ukraine under the UK Special Defence Advisor Programme in 2023 to 2024.

The British Embassy Kyiv is accepting project proposals for the financial years 2023-2024 and 2024-2025 (pending funding) from not-for-profit organisations operating in Ukraine.

War is a catalyst for change; however such change is not limited to military development.  Government structures, processes and policies must also develop at pace.  UK Special Defence Advisor Programme is seeking to sponsor projects aimed at supporting Ukraine’s efforts in Security Sector Reform, which has become an increasingly important activity during Ukraine’s armed conflict with the Russian Federation.


The funding will be allocated from the UK Special Defence Advisor Programme (SDA) within British Embassy Kyiv budget.

Since 2004 the SDA has been a trusted advisor embedded in the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence (U-MOD) and working with the senior leaders across defence (Ministers, senior military personnel and officials) to help them develop and articulate their reform requirements; they also coordinate UK efforts in the realm of defence-focused Security Sector Reform (SSR), and engages with the international and multilateral community to seek consistency of effort. Apart from direct advisory activities by the SDA and hired experts, SDA is also the owner of a programme comprised of reform-focused projects and recurring activities funded from the SDA budget and implemented by international and local implementing partners.

Since 2014 the SDA programme-sponsored projects have been known for delivering exceptional contributions to several reform processes in Ukraine’s wider security sector including, but not limited to:

  • introduction of the P3M and reforming U-MOD and General Staff into project offices
  • transition from Soviet-style planned economy to capability-based planning and introduction of the strategic defence review
  • defence procurement reform
  • reform of the Internal Audit department in U-MOD
  • assistance to the Ukrainian Defence Academy (methodological assistance)
  • anti-corruption investigations in the Ukrainian defence sector
  • introduction of Women, Peace and Security agenda in the wider security sector
  • reinforcing U- MOD capacity in the area of International Humanitarian Law.

Logic of the sought intervention in 2023-2025

SDA programme is seeking projects which will use tailored Ukraine-appropriate processes and mechanisms that draw on Euro-Atlantic/NATO standards and best practices to ensure the sustainability of the results and efforts of the above-mentioned previous projects as well as building on them and expanding reforms efforts under three major delivery objectives:

1. Institutional Resilience and Good Governance in U-MOD, General Staff and affiliated entities

Institutional resilience and good governance has been the heart of the Defence Reform activity aimed at ensuring that the U-MOD has systems and processes in place to successfully manage its response to the invasion as well as functioning transparently and in compliance with civilian oversight rules necessary for a democratic society in wartime and peace alike. Moreover, Defence Reform needs to be conducted in light of the ongoing conflict, but with an eye on the post-conflict dividend, ensuring that Ukraine can not only win the war, but also ‘win the peace’.

Also, despite the ongoing war which requires a focus on the immediate operational tasks, the MoD sees it necessary to begin tackling structural issues of its performance and eradicating Soviet management legacy to lay solid base to transitioning to a modern NATO-standard and civilian driven defence policy agency.

During the proposed financial cycle successful project(s) will assist U-MOD and other relevant authorities to make progress with significant changes to their approach to Policy, Project Management and Evidenced-based decision making in order to better situate the Ukrainian State for future security challenges and military operations that have been started already.

Thus, the requested capacity support must include, but not limited to:

1.1. Provide U-MOD with additional embedded capacity to help adapt and implement current policies, processes and organisational structures to meet NATO standards

1.2. Building permanent in-house analytical capacity for MoD’s leadership, which would include a methodology for data gathering, analysis and drafting policy options for a particular issue of interest

1.3. Design of an evidence-based process for NATO standards implementation across MoD and AFU

1.4. Support Ukraine with its transition from a Soviet-style command authority, to one aligned with NATO systems. Including, but not limited to: Democratic Civilian Control of the AFU, embedding the distinction between defence policy and operational management, and reinforcing delegated command and decision making

1.5. Continue providing support to the Verkhovna Rada Defence Committee in developing the new laws on Democratic Civilian Control of the AFU and military justice reform

1.6. Re-assessment and a policy design for Ukrainian post-war defence industry

1.7. Fighting disinformation and creating verified source of military information for local and international audiences, such as a military information hub or a platform

1.8. Support and coordinate UK efforts in the creation of a U-MOD strategic analytical and lessons-learned centre

1.9. Assisting U-MOD with the conceptual analysis and potential planning for post-conflict activities, including: the transition away from Martial Law, improved integration with the wider Security Sector, and analysis (gaps/needs) for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration.

2. Transparency, Accountability, Anti-corruption

Recent highly-publicised corruption scandal in defence procurement system triggered a series of dismissals and a renewed appetite within U-MOD for progressing with transparency and anti-corruption mechanisms in defence procurement and management processes. The Defence Minister has acknowledged flaws in defence procurement and vowed to return civilian control over it, which was in turn reflected in adoption in the first reading of a draft bill on changes to the Law on Defence Procurement to add transparency and accountability measures, the work on which was sponsored by the SDA Programme.

Moreover, anti-corruption measures from the Defence Minister include prosecuting 621 U-MOD officials who will face charges as the result of U-MOD Internal Audit Department’s (IAD) efforts. The SDA Programme has been actively sponsoring U-MOD IAD reform and strengthening its capability since 2016 through devising a road-map for reforming the department, conducting regular reviews on reform progress and training auditors.

This presents a unique opportunity to leverage political will and ensure U-MOD and the wider security sector progress towards adopting transparent governance approach, reforming its secrecy approach, and reducing corruption practices in supply chain on the whole.

Thus, the requested capacity support must include, but not limited to:

2.1. Continue providing U-MOD with assistance in continuing reform of the Internal Audit Department in accordance with the recommendations by NATO Building Integrity and results of independent evaluations, accepted by the U-MOD (including implementation review, auditor accreditation, improved IA tracking and audit)

2.2. Provide support to the National Defence University’s ‘Building Integrity, Transparency, and Ending Corruption’ (BITEC) team related to their awareness and delivery of ‘best practice’ training, central position within the GoU anti-corruption efforts, and coordination with UK MOD related institutions

2.3. Continue providing support to the Verkhovna Rada Defence Committee in developing the new law on secrecy which would reduce current secrecy approach in order to decrease classification and provide for transition into peacetime regulations

2.4. Continue development of by-laws of the law on secrecy in form of legal acts in the field of defence procurement, which require changes to reduce the level of secrecy

2.5. Perform functions of watchdog in area of anti-corruption in defence area through: 2.5.1. continued participation of independent experts in the Anti-Corruption Council under the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine; and 2.5.2. providing independent monitoring of reporting on the public part of defence procurement after this becomes possible;

2.6. Continued consultation and support of the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption in the implementation of the State anti-corruption program for 2023-2025.

3.Reputational and Human-centred Security

Inequality in peacetime is not the same as inequality in times of war. Immediate threats to the State’s survival shifted Ukraine’s focus away from questions of social inclusion and equality, while at the same time, war has put them in an increasingly scrutinised position.  Implementation of the National Action Plan for the Resolution of the UN Security Council 1325 “Women, Peace, Security” (NAP) is falling behind the suggested plan, and efforts need to be undertaken by civil society to advance the implementation, as well as intensify efforts in promoting Human Rights, Accountability for War Crimes, Women, Peace & Security and Gender Equality agenda.

Thus, the requested intervention must include, but not limited to:

3.1. Support in creation of an efficient human-centred democratic control over Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) and providing independent monitoring of the problematic issues (identified through a gap analysis) in social and gender inclusion

3.2. Support U-MOD, General Staff and AFU in establishing an efficient system to ensure accountability for violation of the International Humanitarian Law in AFU, including drafting necessary by-laws and regulations and training NCOs and other relevant groups

3.3. Support for U-MOD, General Staff and AFU in ensuring that the right policies, doctrines and training provisions are in place for Ukraine to meet its IHL obligations and requirements

3.4. Continued assistance to U-MOD and AFU in implementing NAP in order to ensure better opportunities for women and minorities, welfare support, as well as protection of minority personnel across defence

3.5. Work with U-MOD and the British Embassy’s strategic communication Advisor, on support for successful and far-reaching STRATCOMs plans, to pre-empt communications risks, counter disinformation, and reinforce unity in relation to the conflict and Euro-Atlantic alignment.

The activities under this programme may be subject to change dependent upon context, priorities, U-MOD appetite and feasibility. The successful bidder is expected to demonstrate flexibility, but changes will be undertaken with full consultation.

Bidding guidance:

  • Bidders should fill in the standard The CSSF Project Proposal Form (MS Word Document48 KB) and The CSSF Project Activity-Based Budget (ODS18.1 KB).
  • Project(s) will be funded in two stages: while we are seeking to sign Grant Agreement with the successful bidder(s) for the full period of August 2023 to April 2025, the initial funding will be secured for 8 months from August 2023 to April 2024 with the funding for April 2024 – April 2025 to be confirmed in March 2024 (due to CSSF funding cycles).
  • The Grant Agreement will be signed for the full duration (August 2023-March 2025) and it will have a break clause, and the bidders will need to present their contingency planning for this eventuality.
  • This also means that each bid must have two budgets attached – budget for the initial phase (August 2023 to March 2024) and budget for the second phase (April 2024 – April 2025).
  • Successful implementers must receive project funding in GBP.
  • Each of the budgets for project bids should demonstrate 60% spend by 31 December of the respective year. Thus, budget for the initial phase (August 2023 to March 2024) should demonstrate 60% spend by 31 December 2023 and 100% spend by 31 March 2024; while budget for the second phase (April 2024 – March 2025) should demonstrate 60% spend by 31 December 2024 and 100% spend by 31 March 2025.
  • The Programme is aimed at supporting best quality Ukraine-specific and tailored interventions and empowering local civil society. To this end successful bid will show at least 33.33% of the funding to be attributed to local CSOs, delivery partners and subcontracted experts.
  • All current programmes currently administrated and run by the SDA office are expect to be maintained and supported for the duration of this agreement.
  • Potential implementers are encouraged to combine efforts and, if possible, submit their project proposals in a consortium of several organisations (implementers). Those could be both international and local non-commercial organisations or multilateral organisations, working in the Ukrainian context. If this option is chosen, one entity should be the main Partner/Contractor, which will coordinate efforts of the joint initiative and will be primarily responsible for the project implementation, finance and reporting.
  • All programmes are to be delivered with the support and in agreement with Ukraine MOD.
  • Subcontracts are allowed as long as the main Partner bears all responsibility for delivery by the subcontracted party.
  • Partnership agreements/MOUs/subcontracts are expected to be signed not later than 1 (one) calendar month after the Grant Agreement with the Embassy is signed.
  • Governmental institutions may act as project co-funders or beneficiaries only.
  • For-profit organisations may only act as service providers/subcontractors, however the embassy is not responsible for any tax implications and will not increase budget to accommodate tax payments for for-profit companies.
  • budget limit for initial phase (August 2023 to March 2024):

minimum £ 1 400 000 (one million four hundred thousand pounds sterling) maximum: £ 1 650 000 (one million six hundred and fifty thousand pounds sterling)

  • budget limit for second phase (April 2024 – March 2025) :

minimum £ 2 000 000 (two million pounds sterling) maximum: £ 2 300 000 (two million three hundred thousand pounds sterling)

  • bids where possible should not exceed 50 pages (excluding budgets) and must include CVs of key experts
  • bids must be in English

Recommendations and requirements to project budgets are listed on tab 2 of The CSSF Project Activity-Based Budget (ODS18.1 KB).

We are unable to fund academic courses or research, English language tuition; the purchase of land, property, IT or other equipment (clarification is provided below) and finance construction works under this Fund.


Bids will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • sustainability: bids will build on the successes that the U-MOD, GS and AFU already demonstrate
  • alignment with the above mentioned thematic priorities and outcomes
  • realistic outcomes which are achievable within both funding periods: the initial phase and the second phase
  • evidence they have the capability to adapt and flex to the unfolding situation in Ukraine, potential shifts capability and logistical needs
  • project design includes clear monitoring and evaluation procedures, as well as risk and financial accountability procedures
  • evidence of impact – demonstrating the positive impact that projects have had against the pre-determined SDA objectives
  • evidence of sustainability – demonstrating that project benefits accrued continue after the funding ends
  • alignment of the project budget with requirements and recommendations listed in CSSF activity-based budget template and the project proposal
  • alignment with the Paris Agreement, demonstrating that a climate and environmental risk and impact evaluation was done and no environmental harm will be done
  • the organisations have robust safeguarding policies and implementation plans in place to ensure the protection of beneficiaries and to safeguard against sexual exploitation, abuse and sexual harassment (SEAH). Evidence that the organisations will effectively tackle discrimination and ensure equality of opportunity for those with protected characteristics in line with UK equalities legislation, including International Development (Gender Equality Act) and Public Sector Equality Duty
  • the project budget demonstrates a sufficient level of details and overall value for money
  • we aim to ensure that the total amount of project management team costs, project operation support costs and office support costs would ideally not exceed the 10% ceiling of the overall project costs. In case your organisation has a central agreement with the FCDO to include head office overhead costs into the CSSF project budgets (e.g. international multilateral agencies), those can be added to the project budget in line with the central agreement and are not counted into the 10% ceiling mentioned above
  • successful bids must demonstrate Gender Equality Minimum Score 1 (according to the OECD DAC Definition and minimum recommended criteria for gender equality policy marker), have a gender equality objective explicit in the project documentation and an explanation of a positive impact of the project on advancing gender equality.
  • all projects or activities must align with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and assess climate and environmental impact and risks, taking steps to ensure that no environmental harm is done and, where relevant, support adaptation.

Essential skills and competencies of the implementer

The implementer will have:

  • strong operational experience of working in Ukraine or in similar environments in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECAD) region
  • a constructive and close relationship with Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence
  • strong knowledge of Ukraine’s informal and formal political structures, and must have access and influence within the relevant government bodies
  • the ability to source appropriate expertise to support the mapping, capacity building and advocacy components, both in-country and if necessary, from outside
  • experience of successful delivery across the Security Sector Reform space
  • project and budget management skills, experience, capabilities and capacity
  • experience of Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning processes

Funding exceptions

Funding cannot be used to finance the following:

  • procurement of medical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), vaccines, diagnostic tests/materials and COVID-19 related medicines
  • procurement of land or property
  • construction works
  • purchase or maintenance of IT and capital equipment (if the equipment is essential for achieving the project outputs and impact, please complete a separate Equipment Purchase Supporting Letter (ODT, 7.09 KB) and submit it with the project proposal and budget)
  • fundraising efforts of the organisation

The digital spend – digital development costs in excess of £10,000 for “any external-facing service provided through the internet to citizens, businesses, civil society or non-government organisations” – has to be depicted separately in the Digital Spend Proposal form and be approved by FCDO.


  1. The deadline to submit project proposals is 23:55 GMT 23 June 2023. Late proposals will not be considered.
  2. When submitting, include “Supporting Defence Reform in Ukraine” and the name of the bidder in the subject line of your email.
  3. Proposals must be submitted using the CSSF attached forms only (see below under Additional information and documentation).
  4. Bidders must submit documents in standard Microsoft Office formats (Word, Excel).
  5. Proposals must be submitted to
  6. Project proposals selected for further consideration will be notified by 7th July 2023.
  7. The selected bidder/s will be asked to complete a Due Diligence Assessment (form will be sent to them).
  8. The British Embassy seeks to finalise grant agreements with successful project implementers by 01 August 2023.


Additional information and documentation

All implementers will be expected to sign a standard FCDO grant agreement with the Embassy. The terms of the contract or agreement are not negotiable.