In an interesting article in the Guardian, Oliver May, former head of the counter-fraud unit for Oxfam GB, discusses the reluctance of many NGOs to address fraud. Mr. May says:
“…Many international NGOs still struggle to acknowledge the [fraud] problem and invest in coherent, holistic frameworks to reduce it. That means developing deterrence, prevention, detection and response workstreams and a programme of internal cultural development, underpinned by counter-fraud training. We understand the need for structure and method in programming, so why don’t we take the same approach to reducing fraud and corruption?
It’s not hard to answer. Counter-fraud work carries the odour of “administration costs”, while successfully detecting fraud upsets the public, provokes institutional donors and can give ammunition to our critics. Preventative work is not much more attractive; badly-designed procedures and systems can create bureaucracy that slows delivery. Myths and misconceptions underpin much of this, and when we do dust off the fraud portfolio, our efforts are often underfunded…
…If executed properly, however, with real backing from an organisation’s leaders and proper investment, there are good reasons why a holistic counter-fraud and corruption framework is a great investment for an international NGO.”