Today’s Guest Post is by Chris Williams, Senior Director for Anti-Fraud and Corruption at the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. development agency. Chris explains the measures MCC takes to prevent corruption from infecting the projects it supports and reviews some lessons it has learned about preventing corruption in large infrastructure projects. (Full disclosure. I consult with the MCC on corruption prevention although its prevention policies long pre-date my consultancy. I have hounded Chris for some time to write this post, for whatever bias I may have, I think MCC’s corruption prevention efforts provide a model for others in the development community.)
The Millennium Challenge Corporation is an independent U.S. government development agency working to reduce global poverty through economic growth. Created in 2004, MCC provides time-limited grants that pair investments in infrastructure with policy and institutional reforms to countries that meet rigorous standards for good governance, fighting corruption and respecting democratic rights. MCC provides an example of “smart” development assistance, using competitive selection of grant recipients, country-led solutions, country led implementation, and a focus on results to prioritize the use of U.S. taxpayer funds.
A central feature of MCC’s approach, country ownership, is that each partner government receiving a grant from MCC must identify a legal entity to which the government will delegate the responsibility for the projects funded by the MCC. A sign of the importance MCC places on fighting fraud and corruption is that this entity is formally designated the “accountable entity” (generally referred to as an “MCA,” as many are named Millennium Challenge Account Moldova, Millennium Challenge Account Senegal, etc.). This underlines the MCA’s responsibility for ensuring MCC funds are used only for the purposes intended.
MCC doesn’t just assign responsibility for managing fraud and corruption risks to the MCAs, however. Upon establishment of the MCA, MCC immediately begins working with it to put in place financial controls and other standard safeguards to prevent funds from being lost through fraud or corruption.Continue reading