Courts must expeditiously, but fairly, adjudicate corruption cases, and the penalties imposed on those convicted must be sufficient to dissuade others from similar acts. To ensure that anticorruption laws are indeed being effectively enforced, governments need to monitor the enforcement process. Doing so can provide performance measures to guide policy.
These performance measures are in contrast to indicators such as perception of corruption. In the short run, policymakers can do little to change perceptions, but a performance measure provides a country something more concrete to act upon. For example, if a country finds that it has an inordinately low rate of convictions for corruption offences, it can improve its score by better training its prosecutors and judges or more carefully selecting cases for prosecution. What can we learn from performance measurement efforts undertaken in countries such as the United States, Ethiopia, Indonesia, and Vietnam? What can others do to catch up?
On December 1 at 11:00 am, Francesca Recanatini, David Bernstein and Carolina Vaira will lead a Speak Out session on different methods countries have used to monitor how effectively they enforce anticorruption laws
How much is lost to corruption today? Does the World Bank have any data?
Welcome to everyone. I am here today with my colleagues David Bernstein and Carolina Vaira. We will be responding to your questions together.
Let start with the question about the costs of corruption and data available. There has been a lot of discussion around this issue and we are sure most of you are aware of the figure suggested by Daniel Kaufmann and his colleagues – 1 trillion dollars. (See: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTWBIGOVANTCOR/Resources/2-1_Governa... )
This figure (and the way it has been calculated) has created a lot of debate and controversy. The issue from our point of view is not the exact size of the costs of corruption but rather that corruption has a cost, and often acts as a “regressive” tax for citizens. The World Bank has data supporting this, based on country level surveys of households and enterprises.
Once we accept that corruption has a significant cost for citizens, and especially the poorest groups, we then need to ask ourselves what we can do together to address this challenge.
How can you be sure that the results that are monitored are not false especially in countries where there is no transparency and room for public participation?
“Cooking the books” is certainly a problem. We were once told by the Chief Justice of a country in the Caucasus that he did not trust any of the reports he received from the lower court chairmen. Among the efforts to address this problem are the development of systems that can automate the measuring process as much as possible so that we are measuring things that are easier to verify (e.g., the number of corruption cases, the number of prosecutions, etc.). In addition, measurements can be done and monitored by a “third party” where possible, such as an ombudsman or even the Justice Ministry if the performance measures are for the courts.
At the same time, promoting transparency and space for public discussion and debate should be done in parallel with case management and performance measurement assistance, especially now that ITC tools are available to help citizens express their views and demand more information.
Is there one particular measure that countries can address to make the fastest progress on enforcement? And what good are performance measures if there is not a parallel incentive structure to encourage countries to enforce anti-corruption laws?
The short answer is NO there is no one measure that can address all the facets of enforcement of anti-corruption laws. It really depends on the focus of the law itself. If the law is targeting criminal prosecutions then a measure such as ratio of convictions to prosecutions can give data that shows how the system is making progress. (You can find some of this data on the Bank’s Meetings Blog where we are hosting a discussion on corruption.)
The bottom line is that if the executive branch does not want or intend to enforce anti-corruption laws it will be difficult to get any performance measurement. Demand from civil society, including the media, can promote or foster a drive for greater enforcement. However, in these situations the incentive may arise from the international community through commitments to agreements such as the UN Convention Against Corruption or the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.
Can one size fit all? Is the Bank advocating for a particular system to monitor results in middle income countries and another for poor countries?
The Bank, and practitioners in general, do not advocate for a “one size fits all” when it comes to systems to monitor results, but rather for the use of standard principles for the establishment of monitoring systems, such as consistency and reliability of the data used, for example. Each country should take the leadership in establishing a monitoring system that fits its needs and resource capacity. One important point we would like to emphasize: there is not a one-to-one relationship between income level and institutional capacity and development.
Is there any harmonized standard for experiences implemented by the World Bank and other development organizations that are also supporting monitoring systems?
Please refer to our response to Douglas which addresses some of the issues you raise.
Most of the examples that are successful are simple and tested in a small village or a school and even there the challenge is to universally apply them across the sector at large. My question is how can these experiences be scaled up t o match the a more global standard?
The examples you mentioned relate to progress made by specific reforms in the area of anti-corruption, and practitioners have been working on scaling up these (local level) successes, rather than on monitoring results in law enforcement area. In general these local level experiences offer practitioners the opportunity to test innovative approaches and to engage in environments where broad anti-corruption reforms may not be possible. The principles behind these initiatives (increasing transparency and promoting greater accountability) are the elements that practitioners can take and use for wider sector reforms.