Publication language
Date published
01 May 2023
Thematic evaluation
COVID-19, Governance, Government
Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Indonesia, Malawi, Nepal

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the performance of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded anti-corruption (AC) programs implemented during the 2019 Novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. In particular, the study explores the degree to which USAID-funded programs adapted to corruption risks that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic and the effectiveness of these adaptations in achieving their objectives. The study uses these findings as the basis for recommendations on how USAID might adapt its AC programming during the next pandemic or comparable crisis.

Key findings:

  1. Activities in the Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG) sector were more likely to adapt to increased risks of pandemic-associated corruption (PAC) than activities from other sectors. Qualitative interviews indicate that a key reason for this pattern was that DRG activities, whether they were dedicated to fighting AC or improving other aspects of governance, were more likely than non-DRG activities to identify corruption as a discrete risk to achieving activity objectives.
  2. The types of adaptations to PAC were largely guided by existing Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) priorities and facilitated by flexibility in contract and grant procedures. When the CDCS prioritized AC objectives and laid out clear AC strategies, Missions were able to draw on these resources to guide their responses, and as a result, were more likely to adapt to PAC. Flexibility in contract and grant procedures expedited adaptations. 
  3. There were many types of adaptations to PAC, most commonly among four categories: increased support for watchdog civil society organizations (CSOs) and investigative journalists; assistance to more transparent and traceable procurement processes (including egovernance applications); training for judicial bodies to more aggressively prosecute fraud; and support to local governments responsible for administering COVID-19 response funds, including medical supplies and social assistance programs.
  4. Based on KII and survey respondents’ input, the ET found that these four types of adaptations demonstrated varying degrees of effectiveness and were considered to be promising approaches to reducing corruption.
  5. Missions coordinated PAC adaptations internally more often than externally, and activity teams were more effective than Mission-level personnel at coordinating adaptations. Mission leadership did not use portfolio reviews or donor meetings effectively to coordinate PAC adaptations. DRG offices demonstrated more effective internal and external coordination of adaptations among implementing partners and with non-DRG activities.