Key issues and challenges
There are some common challenges which confront any approach to assessing integrity and corruption prevention measures in the public sector, including: defining the scope of the assessment, ensuring credible results and integrating these into policy making. Beyond these generic challenges, a key consideration is how to select the most appropriate tool(s) according to both the purpose of the assessment and the resources available:
- System wide approaches: System-wide approaches to integrity assessments are useful to obtain a rather general holistic picture of the entire governance system in a country, but they do not offer an in-depth diagnosis of any specific institution. They can however point to those institutions where such an assessment might be needed. These approaches can be rather resource and time intensive as they generally require a team of researchers to undertake the analysis across the different strands of public service. Global integrity, for example, uses a network of more than 1,200 on-the-ground analysts plus a team of journalists to provide both quantitative and qualitative data for their global integrity report18, whilst TI’s National Integrity System research process is conducted by either one lead researcher supported by research assistants or by a team of subject specialists depending on the context. Due to its consultative nature involving key stakeholders in the process, an assessment takes about one year to complete19.
- Institutional risk assessments: The main benefit of this approach is that it offers a relatively quick and cost-effective way of identifying those areas where corruption risks are greatest and prioritising corrective action. Because there are a number of existing ‘out-of-the-box’ indicators and checklists18 which can be adapted and applied at the institutional level, they require minimal investment. The drawback is that they tend to cover a range of ‘standard’ risks which may or may not be applicable to the specific context under analysis. In addition because the approach often involves some form of assessment ‘from within’ there is a greater incentive for respondents to misrepresent information to avoid implicating themselves or colleagues in any wrongdoing.
- Surveys: Surveys can identify the specific types, forms, frequency, and costs of public sector corruption. They are more representative than the findings derived from selected interviews and can identify important regional and inter-agency differences. Furthermore, surveys of users of government services can identify gaps in implementation that may not emerge from expert evaluations or interviews with public officials. However, surveys can be costly and take a long time to implement. They are also less useful for examining the laws which govern public institutions. Furthermore, translating the complex concepts required for a system-wide assessment into clear and simple survey questions can present a significant challenge.
18 Global Integrity Report
19 National Integrity System Assessments
20 Project Against Corruption in Albania (PACA): Corruption Risk Assessment Methodology Guide ▪ Corruption Risk Assessment in Public Institutions ▪ Institutional Risk Assessment Best Practices Compendium