This study seeks to explain the differences in infrastructure quality across China’s villages. Using primary data on three main types of infrastructure projects in rural China, we find that a.) between-project within-village quality differences are small and project design has little explanatory power; b.) between-village variations are larger; and c.) there are strong correlations between the ways villages govern themselves and project quality. We conclude that it is difficult to make good projects work in bad communities and that there is something at the village level that is making some projects succeed in some villages, but not in others.