Practical help for public officials and politicians planning anticorruption reforms
CurbingCorruption is a new website that provides concrete anticorruption advice tailored to specific sectors such as construction, education, health, fisheries, etc. For those concerned about this issue it will, I think, be an important resource.
It has been set up by Mark Pyman, and developed by him with assistance from other anticorruption specialists. Pyman was the Programme Director for Transparency International tackling corruption in the military and Defence Ministries worldwide 2004-2015, and in Afghanistan he was one of three international Anti-Corruption Commissioners 2015-2017. He believes that much more progress against corruption is possible, as the mission statement explains:
Our vision is that corruption can be addressed and reduced better than people realise. Even in the toughest corruption environments, where progress may only be possible in tiny steps, there are many improvement measures that can help, and which can form the basis of a much larger improvement when circumstances change. We believe that there are two key components to doing this. First, enabling public officials and politicians to develop counter-corruption initiatives. At present, only a very small proportion of people in these positions have knowledge or experience of ways to tackle corruption. Public officials, because they operate the machinery of government, are in perhaps the best position to enable sustainable reforms and to collaborate with politicians, civil society, corporate stakeholders and others. Second, building up knowledge, insights and experience at sector level. At present, most anti-corruption knowledge is at the national, cross-government level, which is broad and complex. At sector level, whether public service delivery sectors like health or economic sectors like telecommunications, there is both more knowledge and more ownership from those working in the sector. This increases the chances of success whether for small initiatives, such as within a department, or large ones, such as across a whole agency or ministry.
The site collects a vast number of reports and studies, all referenced and usually linked, and the sector reports contain many examples of a wide range of initiatives from around the world. The construction sector report runs to 59 pages. The Introduction to the Construction, Public Works and Infrastructure page says:
The value of this sector is huge, with roughly half of all fixed capital investment by governments and Public-Private Partnerships being in the construction of public infrastructure. The volume is increasing every year. The value of losses through corruption is estimated at between 10 and 30% of this total, and others believe that a similar amount could be lost through mismanagement and inefficiency (Wells 2015, Matthews 2016). This means that by 2030, unless measures are introduced that effectively improve this situation, close to $6 trillion could be being lost annually through corruption, mismanagement and inefficiency. Losses on this scale cannot be tolerated in any sector, but losses in infrastructure investment have particular significance, because infrastructure underpins every aspect of economic growth and human development. ‘Engineering and construction’ is the sector with the most reported bribery and corruption in advanced economies globally – see the figure below from Price Waterhouse Coopers (2014).
The website is still a work-in-progress, but the idea is to use what’s already on the site as a foundation and to crowdsource additions and revisions by inviting users to contribute their own experiences, insights, and suggestions, and eventually for the website to be managed by collaborative groups of users, with different teams focused on different sectors.
This will, I hope, become a widely used resource in the fight against corruption and illegal practices. It shows there are alternatives to accepting corruption as inevitable and something to be accommodated, and highlights the role of local action as well as institutional measures.
Previous relevant posts:
Australian Royal Commissions here
Canadian Charbonneau Commission here