Why do we need an Index of Public Integrity?
Several indices currently show that corruption remains a key issue not only in developing countries but also in many modern societies. How to control it better has thus become a major question of international development. Yet, the common corruption indices tell us mainly about how citizens and experts perceive the state of corruption in their society. They do not tell us anything about the causes of corruption nor about how the situation could be improved.
The Index of Public Integrity takes a different approach. It assesses a society’s capacity to control corruption and ensure that public resources are spent without corrupt practices. It is based on years of research and the evaluation of the efforts of different societies to make advances in the control of corruption.
Evidence from comparisons across countries shows that establishing effective control of corruption requires much more than the mere adoption of specific tools and strict legal regulations. It relies on a balance between a state calibrated to reduce the possibility of the abuse of influence and a society’s capacity to hold its government accountable. The IPI highlights the most important dimensions of that mechanism. It correlates with the World Bank’s and Transparency International’s measures of control of corruption, but in contrast to them it is more objective and transparent.
The IPI consists of the following six components:
Based on extensive research, the IPI is made up of six individual and actionable components. They reflect the balance of measures that can contribute to effective control of corruption:
…captures the extent of impartial and non-corrupt judiciary systems that constitute legal constraints on government power and are thus key elements of effective control of corruption. The data stems from the Global Competitiveness Database developed by the World Economic Forum.
…measures the extent of domestic bureaucratic regulation. An excessive administrative burden and too many regulations open doors for discretion and red tape, thereby resulting in a high risk of corruption. The component is constructed by combining the average number of procedures and the time needed to start a business and pay corporate tax. The data stems from the World Bank’s Doing Business dataset.
…measures the extent of regulation concerning a country’s external economic activity. Open countries can control corruption better by removing room for discretion at the level of administrative trade barriers and thus allowing free competition. The component combines the average number of procedures and the time taken to export and import goods using data from the World Bank’s Doing Business dataset.
…measures the extent and quality of public accessibility to the executive’s budget proposals in order to provide a control mechanism for discretionary public spending. The component is based on selected questions which are used for the Open Budget Survey provided by the International Budget Partnership. Note that this measure does not fully correspond to the Open Budget Index but captures some of its key concepts.
…captures the ability of citizens to use online tools and social media and thus exercise social accountability. Internet media in general and social networks in particular are indispensable components of citizen empowerment. The component is constructed by combining the number of broadband subscriptions and internet users with the number of Facebook users relative to the total population. The data stems from the International Telecommunication Union and Internet World Stats.
FREEDOM OF THE PRESS
…measures the degree of media independence resulting from a specific national legal, political and economic environment in which print, broadcast, and internet-based media operate. Free media are indispensable to the monitoring of democratic institutions, public accountability and good government. The component is based on Freedom House’s assessment of freedom of the press.
What can the IPI be used for?
The IPI data and the interactive online tool provided here are intended to help policy-makers and civil society leaders who want to improve the control of corruption in their societies. They enable users to compare their own countries to peer countries in their region or income group in order to see the potential for improvement in specific policy areas. An in-depth analysis of these areas can help to develop evidence-based strategies to prevent or curb corruption. The IPI shows the significant areas for reforms – unless a country does well in all those areas it is unlikely to be able to control corruption. Anticorruption fighters need to develop holistic thinking and must understand that the components of the index all work to create a balanced policy framework. A broad alliance is therefore needed, or conjugated independent efforts to achieve progress. Indicators for each component are only that – indicators; other measures too should be sought in the same areas, until independent observers can verify that the respective country has improved its performance. Some of the most common reforms in these policy areas are outlined below, but each country should research the reasons for its own underperformance and should then develop its own strategy.
Reducing opportunities for corruption can be achieved by decreasing the amount of red tape and the number of bureaucratic processes and by opening opportunities to external actors to participate in the budget process. By and large, those are reforms to reduce power discretion and rationalize public spending. Some governments might therefore be reluctant to undertake them unless there is strong demand from civil society, international donors, or both. Countries with low scores in those areas should consider the following reforms:
- Easing the registration processes for business;
- Reducing the time and effort it takes to pay tax;
- Simplifying the tax code
- Introducing tax collection through private agents
- Facilitating online tax payment
- Reforming or removing regulations that create legal privileges for certain members of society.
- Reducing burdensome procedures placed on import and export;
- Simplifying procedures;
- Reforming the customs service on the basis of performance.
- Improving access to key budget documents;
- Using international budget standards, for instance in the classification of budget items;
- Using e-portals to track expenses of national and local governments;
- Actively involving civil society in budget processes;
- Further measures are outlined by the International Budget Partnership.
Increasing constraints on corruption can be achieved by strengthening accountability and, in particular, civil society actors. Institutions such as a free press can be vital to holding governments to account or uncovering government corruption. Countries with low scores in those areas should consider the following reforms:
- Introducing tenure for judges;
- Entrusting the appointment and sanctioning of judges to professional bodies validated by a two-thirds majority of the legislature;
- Ensuring a clear separation of private and public interests through clear legislation on conflict of interest and rules that prevent nepotism;
- Creating and sustaining a prosecution free from political intervention.
- Increasing internet and broadband access;
- Ensuring internet freedom;
- Investing in IT education;
- Introducing a solid framework for freedom of information;
- Using online tools that support the work of civil society actors, such as e-government tools, digital whistleblowing tools and tools for digital activism and consultation.
Freedom of the Press
- Ensuring that media regulation stays to a minimum and does not limit media freedom;
- Ensuring that journalists are able to do their work without fearing repression or violence;
- Making ownership and paid content entirely transparent, while editorial freedom and responsibility are secured via agreements of owners with professional bodies;
- Keeping media freedom, for classic as well as new media, as part of the conditions for development aid or access to international organizations;
- Sponsoring dedicated blogs or internet communities to investigate and report on corruption and crime.
The IPI is designed to give policy-makers and civil society actors the evidence to design reform strategies to improve control of corruption.