Anti-Corruption Policies and Programs: A Framework for Evaluation

17 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

See all articles by Anwar Shah

Anwar Shah

World Bank

Jeffrey Huther

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Date Written: December 2000


In a largely corruption-free environment, anti-corruption agencies, ethics offices, and ombudsmen strengthen the standards of accountability. In countries with endemic corruption, however, the same institutions function in form but not in substance; under a best-case scenario such institutions might be helpful, but the more likely outcome is that they help to preserve social injustice.

The anti-corruption strategy the World Bank announced in September 1997 defined corruption as the "use of public office for private gain" and called for the Bank to address corruption along four dimensions:

• Preventing fraud and corruption in Bank projects.

• Helping countries that request Bank assistance for fighting corruption.

• Mainstreaming a concern about corruption in Bank work.

• Lending active support to international efforts to address corruption.

The menu of possible actions to contain corruption (in both countries and Bank projects) is very large, so Huther and Shah develop a framework to help assign priorities, depending on views of what does and does not work in specific countries. Their framework, based on public officials' incentives for opportunistic behavior, distinguishes between highly corrupt and largely corruption-free societies. Certain conditions encourage public officials to seek or accept corruption:

• The expected gains from undertaking a corrupt act exceed the expected costs.

• Little weight is placed on the cost that corruption imposes on others. In a country with heavy corruption and poor governance, the priorities in anti-corruption efforts would then be to establish rule of law, strengthen institutions of participation and accountability, and limit government interventions to focus on core mandates.

In a country with moderate corruption and fair governance, the priorities would be decentralization and economic reform, results-oriented management and evaluation, and the introduction of incentives for competitive delivery of public services.

In a country with little corruption and strong governance, the priorities might be explicit anti-corruption agencies and programs, stronger financial management, increased public and government awareness, no-bribery pledges, efforts to fry the "big fish," and so on.

This paper - a product of the Country Evaluation and Regional Relations Division, Operations Evaluation Department - is part of a larger effort in the department to improve the development effectiveness of external assistance. Anwar Shah may be contacted at

Suggested Citation

Shah, Anwar and Huther, Jeffrey, Anti-Corruption Policies and Programs: A Framework for Evaluation (December 2000). Available at SSRN:

Anwar Shah (Contact Author)

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Jeffrey Huther

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System ( email )

20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20551
United States

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