IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

'Red flags of corruption'in world bank projects : an analysis of infrastructure contracts


  • Kenny, Charles
  • Musatova, Maria


"Red flags"are indicators of potential issues regarding governance failure, collusion or corruption in projects. While some specific red flags can be powerful indicators of issues to be addressed, the hypothesis of this paper is that many proposed red flags are potentially too ubiquitous and randomly distributed to be useful as indicators of significant governance failure. The paper examines project documentation from a small sample of World Bank water and sanitation projects in an attempt to collect data on the presence or absence of 13 commonly accepted red flags. This paper finds that: (i) almost every contract reviewed raised at least one of 13 red flags analyzed; (ii) potentially tainted contracts did not exhibit notably more red flags than control contracts; and (iii) the occurrence of multiple red flags in the same contract was rare enough to suggest that joint occurrence was largely by chance, not as a result of a strongly causal inter-relationship between flags. The ubiquity and apparent randomness of these red flags suggests that their roll-out as a monitoring tool requires additional thought as to interpretation, context and use. The paper examines an alternate tool for uncovering potential problem projects -- supplier concentration. Across a very small sample, there does appear to be a relationship between such concentration and potential problem projects.

Suggested Citation

  • Kenny, Charles & Musatova, Maria, 2010. "'Red flags of corruption'in world bank projects : an analysis of infrastructure contracts," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5243, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5243

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:


    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Shocked! Scandal-Driven Management Is No Way to Address Corruption
      by Bill Savedoff in Global Development: Views from the Center on 2014-01-13 23:21:42


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Bernard GAUTHIER & Frédéric LESNÉ, 2018. "Reported Corruption vs. Experience of Corruption in Public Procurement Contracts," Working Papers P242, FERDI.
    2. Francesco Decarolis & Cristina Giorgiantonio, 2020. "Corruption red flags in public procurement: new evidence from Italian calls for tenders," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 544, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    3. Mihály Fazekas & Lawrence Peter King, 2019. "Perils of development funding? The tale of EU Funds and grand corruption in Central and Eastern Europe," Regulation & Governance, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 13(3), pages 405-430, September.
    4. Dávid-Barrett, Elizabeth & Fazekas, Mihály, 2020. "Anti-corruption in aid-funded procurement: Is corruption reduced or merely displaced?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 132(C).
    5. Charalampos Bratsas & Evangelos Chondrokostas & Kleanthis Koupidis & Ioannis Antoniou, 2021. "The Use of National Strategic Reference Framework Data in Knowledge Graphs and Data Mining to Identify Red Flags," Data, MDPI, vol. 6(1), pages 1-20, January.
    6. Antonio Estache, 2014. "Infrastructure and Corruption: a Brief Survey," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2014-37, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.

    More about this item


    Post Conflict Reconstruction; Debt Markets; Government Procurement; Investment and Investment Climate; Literature&Folklore;
    All these keywords.

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5243. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Roula I. Yazigi (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.