World Bank:

Management Controls Stronger, but Challenges in Fighting Corruption Remain

NSIAD-00-73: Published: Apr 6, 2000. Publicly Released: Apr 6, 2000.

Contact:

Harold J. Johnson, Jr
(202) 512-3000
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO provided information on the World Bank's management controls.

GAO noted that: (1) in its efforts to address corruption concerns, the Bank has undertaken an ambitious and systematic effort to identify and correct key weaknesses in its system of management controls; (2) the Bank has made significant progress in meeting each of the five standards of an effective management control system; (3) however, challenges remain and further action will be required before the Bank can provide reasonable assurance that project funds are spent according to the Bank's guidelines; (4) GAO focused on Bank efforts to improve internal oversight mechanisms, project management, and public institutions in borrowing countries; (5) the Bank has added new oversight committees and staff to better monitor Bank operations and borrower procurement and financial management practices; (6) however, many of the public agencies in borrowing countries charged with implementing Bank-financed projects are managerially weak and lack skilled and experienced staff; (7) the Bank has focused more attention on better assessing the risks associated with corruption and weak managerial capacity of its borrowers; (8) however, the risks identified are not always raised to the attention of senior decisionmakers and fully addressed in risk mitigation plans; (9) the Bank has strengthened controls by devoting more attention and resources to supervising its projects more closely; (10) this has included hiring or training local Bank staff or contracting with consultants to review borrower procurement actions more closely; (11) however, the Bank and some borrowers do not always comply with Bank procedures on project auditing and Bank supervision of borrowers' procurement and financial management practices; (12) the Bank has introduced some new tools for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of Bank projects; (13) however, these tools do not provide enough information for Bank management to measure the extent to which some key management control problems are being resolved; (14) the Bank has significantly improved its dissemination and communication of information on its anticorruption efforts, both within the Bank and in borrowing countries; and (15) however, some borrower governments and nongovernmental organizations are still not aware of the Bank's hotline and other mechanisms for reporting fraud and corruption.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the World Bank achieves its goal of obtaining reasonable assurance that project funds are spent as intended and that corruption risks are mitigated in Bank-financed projects, the Secretary of the Treasury should instruct the U.S. Executive Director of the World Bank to work with other Executive Board members to encourage the Bank to develop a plan to raise awareness of the Bank's anticorruption program among project implementing agencies and beneficiaries.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In response to the recommendation, the Bank established a more focused and cohesive communications strategy on its anticorruption efforts. As part of this strategy, the Bank now issues regular public progress reports on its anticorruption activities. The first report was issued in June 2000, and is titled Helping Countries Combat Corruption--Progress at the World Bank Since 1997. The report is an anthology of the progress made by the Bank since 1997. The Bank expects that this will become a regular public disclosure exercise.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the World Bank achieves its goal of obtaining reasonable assurance that project funds are spent as intended and that corruption risks are mitigated in Bank-financed projects, the Secretary of the Treasury should instruct the U.S. Executive Director of the World Bank to work with other Executive Board members to encourage the Bank to monitor and report on progress in strengthening management controls and correcting past project management control weaknesses, including results of efforts to strengthen project auditing and supervision.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Bank is refocusing the Internal Auditing Department's work more on operational compliance issues, with emphasis on compliance with procurement and financial management policies and procedures. The Bank is also taking steps to strengthen the Financial Management Board by dedicating a cadre of full-time staff to help implement the following goals: (1) establishing higher quality financial management assessments, disbursement, and loan accounting services to country teams and borrowers; (2) establishing quality financial management in all Bank projects; and (3) strengthening the professionalism of the Bank's financial management staff. The Bank is also working with borrowers to improve the quality of project audits. This is likely to be a long-term effort. On procurement, the Bank is developing a procurement compliance system to better monitor the Bank's compliance with key internal control requirements, such as spot checks of procurements over certain dollar thresholds.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the World Bank achieves its goal of obtaining reasonable assurance that project funds are spent as intended and that corruption risks are mitigated in Bank-financed projects, the Secretary of the Treasury should instruct the U.S. Executive Director of the World Bank to work with other Executive Board members to encourage the Bank to target procurement and financial management assessments at countries where corruption risks are greatest.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The World Bank is taking steps to better allocate its anticorruption assistance on the basis of risk. For example, the Bank has introduced a requirement that every country assistance strategy (a key lending document) explicitly discuss pertinent governance issues, including corruption issues, within borrowing countries. The Bank is also undertaking a review of its fiduciary controls for project and adjustment lending and aims to give priority to large and risky borrowers in the schedule for conducting procurement and financial management assessments. In fiscal years 2000 and 2001, assessments were conducted in countries such as Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, and Uganda.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the World Bank achieves its goal of obtaining reasonable assurance that project funds are spent as intended and that corruption risks are mitigated in Bank-financed projects, the Secretary of the Treasury should instruct the U.S. Executive Director of the World Bank to work with other Executive Board members to encourage the Bank to include more complete information in project appraisal documents and country assistance strategies on the risks related to corruption and any procurement and financial management weaknesses of borrowers, as well as planned supervisory actions to mitigate the identified risks.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On October 8, 2002, Treasury reported that significant progress has been made in making the reporting of risks more explicit in the Bank's country assistance strategies (CAS) and in related project documents. Revised staff guidance stipulates that CASs should include a "thorough discussion of country risks (economic-financial, including domestic and external, political, social and environmental) and operational risks to the Bank (financial/creditworthiness as well as reputational)". All CASs are now required to include a detailed diagnosis of governance conditions in general, and corruption risks faced by Bank-supported projects in particular. On a country level, the Bank aims to carry out a Country Procurement Assessment Review and a Country Financial Accountability Report (collectively referred to as a "fiduciary assessment") for its client countries. The Bank aims to have the fiduciary assessment become one of the key diagnostic analyses that underpins the Bank's assistance to both middle- and low-income countries. All major client countries are expected to be covered by July 2003. The procurement and financial management issues identified during these reviews will help identify (1) the priorities for policy action and capacity building and possibilities for Bank support, and (2) the risk posed for Bank funds and suggested options to mitigate these risks. On a project level, as part of project preparation the Bank assesses the capacity of the executing agency to implement procurement, and assesses the risk involved. A plan of action is developed as part of the project design to address any weaknesses.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the World Bank achieves its goal of obtaining reasonable assurance that project funds are spent as intended and that corruption risks are mitigated in Bank-financed projects, the Secretary of the Treasury should instruct the U.S. Executive Director of the World Bank to work with other Executive Board members to encourage the Bank to integrate investigative functions into a single unit and establish organizational independence of the unit to better address allegations of wrongdoing.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In response to the GAO recommendation, the World Bank is combining the Bank's investigative unit and the ethics office into the new "Department of Institutional Integrity." Management of the new unit, currently being recruited internationally, has been elevated to that of a director level, and will answer directly to the Office of the President.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the Bank's anticorruption initiatives have the desired impact, the Secretary of the Treasury should monitor Bank progress in meeting each of the five components of an effective management control system and annually report to Congress evidence of progress.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Treasury has not implemented this recommendation.

    Aug 28, 2014

    Jul 24, 2014

    Jul 21, 2014

    Jul 9, 2014

    Jul 8, 2014

    Jun 26, 2014

    Looking for more? Browse all our products here