Thursday, May 08, 2008

'Shove the money out the door' ....

... and into some local politicians' coffers.

In 2006 I evaluated the $200m DDR program funded by the World Bank and referred to in the WSJ article below. I found a rotting corpse. To my surprise, the people who hired the evaluation at the Bank were not receptive to my findings, and promptly sat on the report for a year. In the end, they released an anodyne 20pp version of my 150pp report. Talk about deliberate obfuscation -- I've never seen it so shamelessly flaunted.

Read the Wall Street Journal article on the Bank's new anti-corruption efforts...
Bits and pieces here: "On April 21, the bank released the findings of a corruption probe into a $100 million "demobilization and reintegration" scheme in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which uncovered "sufficient evidence to substantiate allegations of fraud, corruption and disallowed expenses." The very next day, April 22, the bank announced that it had approved an additional $50 million grant for – drumroll, please – the same "demobilization and reintegration" scheme in the Democratic Republic of Congo. [...]

There has also been no change to the shove-the-money-out-the-door mentality that lies at the root of the bank's endemic corruption problems. When the bank first initiated the Congo project in 2004, it had just been burned by a similar demobilization project in Cambodia, where by its own later admission it showed "a lack of realism," a "need for greater political awareness," and a "lack of understanding."

Yet none of these lessons were so much as mentioned in the bank's internal project proposal for the Congo. That proposal contains page after page of written promises of external financial and technical auditing, competitive bidding and other anticorruption bells and whistles. None of it seems to have made much of a difference in preventing the scheme from sliding into the same morass that is the frequent endpoint of World Bank projects."

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