Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 02/2014

Results-Based Payments Reduce the Real Costs of Corruption in Foreign Aid

Charles Kenny, William Savedoff

January 2014

Center for Global Development


Why don’t foreign aid programs simply pay recipients for attaining agreed upon results? The idea has been around for decades, but it continues to meet resistance. Some donors worry that programs that pay for outputs or outcomes would not be able to control how funds are used and would thus be vulnerable to corruption. This brief explains why results-based payment systems are actually likely to be less vulnerable to corruption than traditional input-tracking approaches by making the effects of corruption—the failure of programs to deliver results—more visible.