How to Respond to a Complaint

This section includes information on:

  • How to interview a complainant
  • Suggested initial questions to ask a complainant
  • How to evaluate a complaint
  • Basic advice on how to interview a cooperative witness
  • How to follow up on a complaint
  • Other info on complaint handling

How to interview a complainant

Promptly reply to the complainant to acknowledge receipt and to seek additional information.  If possible, do some quick research to confirm at least the basic transactions involved in the complaint, e.g., that only one bidder was evaluated or that the lowest bid was not accepted, before responding. This will help you prepare for the interview and will greatly encourage the complainant by showing that you made some effort to follow up on the report, which, unfortunately, is not always the case.  Delaying your response, or the failure to do even the simplest preparation, can be very discouraging for the whistleblower and can affect his or her desire to cooperate further.

Be alert for procurement complaints that suggest but do not directly allege underlying corruption, e.g., “Our bid was the best but we still lost,” or “We had the lowest price but were improperly disqualified.” Losing bidders often are willing to complain about procurement abuses but are reluctant to allege corruption – even when they know it is present – because they fear that it will lead to their blacklisting or other retaliation.   Politely press hard to reach the corruption issues in such cases. Emphasize confidentiality and your commitment to follow up on the corruption issues.

Suggested questions to ask a complainant:

How to evaluate a complaint

The primary factors to evaluate the usefulness and legitimacy of a complaint are:

  • Is the information
    • Sufficiently detailed to evaluate?
    • Significant enough to pursue?
    • Plausible when compared to other available information and documents?
    • Corroborated by other reliable information, or can it be?
    • Supported by reliable documents, or can it be?
  • Is the complainant credible?

See basic advice on how to interview a cooperative witness.

Next steps

If the complaint involves an alleged “Red Flag” of possible misconduct with which you are not familiar, go to the red flags section of this program.   There you can learn about the red flag, match it to the related scheme or schemes and learn how to proceed. If the complaint involves an alleged SCHEME, go to the schemes section of this program, find the alleged or suspected scheme or schemes and proceed as directed under each scheme.

Other information on complaint handling

See how to generate complaints and reports and a list of fraud reporting sites for Multilateral Development Banks.