Busting Graft From The Other Side
Sunday, April 19, 2009 at 8:08PM
Richard L. Cassin in Illinois, World Bank

It perennially runs neck-and-neck with Louisiana as the country's most corrupt state. But last week Illinois took a big step toward coming clean. It launched a website that makes it easy for anyone to report corruption in state and local government -- and get paid to do it. And guess what? The site's a winner -- clean, simple and easy to use.

It starts out saying:

A whistleblower is someone who exposes wrongdoing, fraud, corruption and/or waste.

Taxpayers deserve an honest and efficient government. In 1991, then State Treasurer Pat Quinn, led the movement to enact a state whistleblower protection act.

The Illinois Whistleblower Act protects every citizen -- including state and local government employees -- when they blow the whistle on government corruption.

Our state law rewards citizens who blow the whistle.

In 2008, the Illinois Whistleblower Reward and Protection Act expanded the 1991 law to cover all levels of state government. Since the act was strengthened, a whistleblower can get up to 30% of the amount recovered as a reward upon completion of a successful whistleblower suit.

In just one page, the site walks state employees and others through the steps to file a complaint and how to make it stick.

Whistleblower programs work. We've said before that at least a third of the FCPA enforcement investigations now underway probably started with whistleblower complaints. Just as important is how the programs give stakeholders a voice.

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Another big institution struggling with its own corruption is the World Bank. It has a whistleblower program (here). But an independent evaluation released last week said "staff fear reprisal for reporting infringements and unethical behavior." And unlike Illinois, the Bank doesn't advertise financial rewards for successful complainants. That probably limits its usefulness. We also wonder whether the Bank's borrowers and grantees are required to have whistleblower programs? If any readers know the answer, maybe they can send a comment or an email.

The report by the Bank's Independent Evaluation Group gave the lowest possible rating for fraud-detection to the Bank's International Development Association (IDA). The IDA loans and grants $40 billion to the 78 poorest countries. The Wall Street Journal has a story here.

The independent evaluation criticized the IDA for emphasizing project performance and completion over compliance. Job descriptions and performance evaluations, it said, "do not usually contain specific references to internal control-related duties, responsibilities, and accountability. Concerns about the adequacy of current incentives to promote accountability, compliance and quality were also reflected in several units’ responses." The report can be downloaded here.

The World Bank has debarred 351 entities for violating its fraud and corruption provisions. It kept the names secret until January this year, when pressure from the Wall Street Journal and others forced it to be more transparent. The list of debarred organizations is here.
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Article originally appeared on The FCPA Blog (https://www.fcpablog.com/).
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