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Managing the risks of fraud, waste, and abuse in COVID-19 Stimulus Programmes

As countries start recovering after the pandemic, governments around the world are faced with enormous pressures to identity and mitigate potential flaws in existing programmes and investigate and prosecute crime where it happens.

As 2020 began, awareness of the SARS COV-2 virus heightened, but few people envisaged the devastating effects it would have on economies and public health worldwide. Many governments reacted rapidly to prop up their economies. These responses included grants, payment checks, or salary coverage. The exceptionally short lead-in times in these initiatives unintentionally increased the risk for fraud, waste and abuse.

After the first wave of responses, there is an opportunity to implement Programme Integrity—transforming existing or designing new programmes that are suitably robust against fraud, waste and abuse. Governments can mitigate negative long-term consequences and be better prepared for future threats by focussing on monitoring, oversight and design when implementing new programmes and distributing funds. By doing so, the funds can reach their intended targets with the desired effects delivered.

In this paper, we discuss specific challenges; considerations on how to shape, support and drive it; and ways to monitor and report on progress as it is made. The race is on for governments to deliver effective programmes quickly, but with precision, with the knowledge that only by doing so, can they position their countries well to deal with the current crisis and lay a strong foundation for the future.

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