On December 2nd, Keith Henderson of the Washington College of Law at American University and Carvalho Research Fellow at the Government Accountability Project, presented a study of the state of protections for whistleblowers at the World Bank at the International Anti-Corruption Conference in Panama. The study’s findings can be succinctly summarized: “The Bank’s Whistleblower Policy, Rules and Guidance are not transparent and are out-of-step with 21st Century international best practices, treaties and the universal rights of whistleblowers (in a number of important ways).”
Because the World Bank is the flagship development bank and lends billions of dollars annually to governments, accountability is a significant concern for its management. General research on the topic of accountability shows that fraud examiners, investigators and auditors detect more misuse of funds through tips and disclosures from whistleblowers than from any other source.
At the same time, recent staff surveys at the World Bank show that employees are reluctant to come forward with disclosures of wrongdoing for fear of reprisal. The combination of facts suggests that oversight at the World Bank may be hindered by a climate of insecurity among the staff about management’s commitment to whistleblowers, as well as by uncertainty about the protections actually in place.
GAP has worked for many years to protect World Bank whistleblowers from retaliation and is prepared to cooperate with management in effectively communicating the protections available to those who disclose misconduct or fraud. GAP is also committed to ensuring that these protections are fairly and promptly implemented.