Are you looking for practical guidance and tools to assist with addressing corruption in areas of your work? Are you interested in measuring corruption risks at country or sector levels? Transparency International has extended its portfolio of knowledge services to EuropeAid staff, through its on-demand Anti-Corruption Helpdesk and its Corruption Assessment Toolbox (GATEway).

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The anti-corruption expert organization, Transparency International (TI) defines corruption as the ‘abuse of power for private gain’, and sees it as a major impediment to development. There are estimations that as much as 30% of overseas development aid fail to reach its final destination due to corruption. 

The EU has teamed up with Transparency International to help its staff address corruption problems. The services offered by TI include an anti-corruption helpdesk, providing targeted on-demand research services on corruption to development practitioners, and an online portal (GATEway) providing a searchable database of over 500 corruption assessment tools, with a set of topic guides on how best to select and use them.

At a recent InfoPoint meeting in Brussels, Marie Chêne and Andy McDevitt of Transparency International introduced these tools and discussed the anti-corruption trends that they are witnessing. The presentation they made for this occasion can be viewed here.

The Anti-Corruption Helpdesk

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“The Helpdesk is an on-demand research service on corruption that we provide to selected stakeholders. Practitioners can ask a question on corruption and receive an answer within a guaranteed timeframe, “said Marie Chêne, who operates the Anti-Corruption Helpdesk at the TI International Secretariat in Berlin.

The Helpdesk provides anti-corruption expertise to help development practitioners mainstream anti-corruption at programme, sector and country levels. It also helps them respond quickly to events in their countries and lead successful news-driven advocacy activities. Drawing on its experience of servicing the knowledge needs of U4 partner agencies since 2003, TI now extends the service to EC/EEAS development practitioners, with support of the European Commission. 

 

 

Obtaining advice through the Helpdesk is simple, either through the capacity4dev.eu website (http://capacity4dev.ec.europa.eu/anti-corruption-helpdesk/minisite/guidelines-submitting-questions-helpdesk), or you can write directly to the Helpdesk team (tihelpdesk@transparency.org). The Helpdesk team will contact you, clarify the question – if need be – and agree with you on a time frame to answer your query. 

“We will then identify and contact relevant experts or organisations within the anti-corruption community, conduct desk research and coordinate the production of a published written response within 10 working days,” said Ms Chêne.

Answers typically consist of a 4-8 page brief synthesizing the state of knowledge on a particular topic.

The Helpdesk relies on the contribution of a network of about 200 experts, who provide pro-bono advice in their area of expertise. “At the moment we are exploring ways to make this network of experts more interactive and promote peer- to- peer exchanges,” added Ms Chêne. 

As a demand-driven service, the Helpdesk will answer all corruption research questions posted, provided they can be realistically achieved through desk/secondary research within a short period of time. This can include a wide range of questions, from identifying resource persons or organisations with an expertise on a specific topic, to providing an overview of the state of knowledge on a particular issue, highlighting good practices, experience and lessons learnt in this particular field.

The service has allowed Transparency International to monitor trends of what interests the anti-corruption community, where the knowledge gaps are, and where there is perhaps a need to invest more resources into doing further research. They have found that:

  • Donors are concerned with putting sound internal integrity management mechanisms in place. They also apply to themselves the standards that they are asking from others.
  • Safeguarding development funds and projects from corruption risks is also an important area of concern. 
  • There is the need to inform policy debate at the country level and to support anti-corruption efforts of the recipient countries, such as setting up an anti-corruption commission or developing new anti -corruption legislation. 
  • Many agencies have asked the Helpdesk to provide an overview of corruption and anti-corruption in several countries as part of country strategy development processes, with over 20 requested last year alone. All donors are interested in seeing a snapshot of the main corruption risks in a county and the institutional and legal frameworks in place to address those risks. 
  • Another important trend is measuring corruption and tracking impact, with the growing concern of assessing what works and what does not work in anti-corruption interventions.

Help Desk answers are checked through a peer review quality control process and, after being made anonymous, are made public through the TI website. “Last year we answered close to 120 questions, about 80 of them have been made public or will be made public shortly, which means that if you are not one of the happy few that can use the full service, you can browse through this repository of knowledge,” said Ms Chêne.

In future, selected EC queries will be made public in the Anti-Corruption Helpdesk group site on capacity4dev.eu.

The GATEway website

The GATEway project is all about collecting, sharing and expanding knowledge on corruption assessment. It allows those who wish to measure corruption to match their needs with existing diagnostic tools.

Andy McDevitt manages the GATEway project at Transparency International. “I encourage people to visit the GATEway website when they are working on a programme and want to incorporate corruption assessment into it,” he said. “We have tools and guidance as to which tools are most appropriate, and guidance on how to use these tools.”

 

 

Corruption by nature is notoriously difficult to measure, mainly because people aren’t open about it. The GATEway project has gathered together the various tools developed to measure it over the past 20 years. 

“Initially these tools focused largely on perceptions, so you would ask people about their perceptions of corruption in a country or in a sector,“ explained Mr. McDevitt. 

”Then what became apparent was what might be more useful in certain cases at least is to measure the opposite of corruption, so you measure how strong a country is, a company is, a sector is in fighting corruption. So you would look at transparency, accountability, levels of integrity as a kind of proxy for anticorruption.”

A third and more recent way of measuring corruption is to look at corruption risks rather than corruption per se. “So again it is focusing more on the anti-corruption side and looking where weaknesses are in the system so we can identify areas for strengthening that system,” added Mr. McDevitt. 

Transparency international is well known for its Corruption Perceptions Index, which it releases every year. It also runs the Global Corruption Barometer, a public opinion survey that gathers the public’s views on, and experiences of, corruption.

This collaborative piece was drafted with input from Marie ChêneAndy McDevitt and Apostolos Aravanis with support from the capacity4dev.eu Coordination Team.

For further information relating to this subject, please visit the Governance topic on capacity4dev.eu.

 

DISCLAIMER: This information is provided in the interests of knowledge sharing and capacity development and should not be interpreted as the official view of the European Commission, or any other organisation.

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