TNRC eCourse Introduction to Corruption, Anti-Corruption and NRM | Anti-corruption toolbox

The Anti-Corruption "Toolbox"

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Holistic anti-corruption efforts

No single reform will reduce corruption on its own, and most changes require other changes to support their implementation.

  • Prevention is the backbone of the fight against corruption. Institutions and practices that reduce opportunities and incentives for corrupt actions are based on good governance principles of effectiveness, transparency, impartiality, accountability, and others.
  • No prevention regime can be perfect. Detection measures help identify when rules and regulations are breached, and enforcement measures follow up with investigations and sanctions of those who are found to have participated in corrupt actions. 
  • Sanctions complete the cycle of accountability. They can be criminal, administrative, political, or social.

Enabling environment

All anti-corruption measures require some degree of enabling environment to support implementation of reforms and follow-through on accountability mechanisms.

  • Criminal sanctions depend on a clean, strong justice system and robust disciplinary procedures at the institutional level.
  • Political or social sanctions (like voting wrongdoers out of office) require public awareness of the problem and sufficient citizen or stakeholder power to hold offenders accountable.

These conditions don’t always apply, so context analysis is essential to determine windows of opportunity, check assumptions about planned initiatives, and explore possible risks related to any given approach.

Anti-corruption approaches

Not every program will want or need to get involved in every aspect of anti-corruption reforms. This list helps you imagine the range of possibilities and identify possible points of access for a given program/project, but it doesn’t imply that every project should include all these things. More information on each approach is included in the following pages.

Prevention approaches

  • Improving financial management to track revenues and expenditures reduce opportunities for "leakage" through corrupt practices.
  • Enhancing citizen monitoring and participation can reduce opportunities to misuse or misdirect resources, particularly at community or local government levels. Institutional or sectoral user feedback/surveys can document user satisfaction or experiences of corruption.
  • Streamlining and publicizing administrative procedures reduces interactions where corrupt exchanges may take place and empowers service seekers by reducing providers’ discretion.
  • Technology, such as e-government tools, can reduce opportunities for bribes, extortion and embezzlement by automating certain transactions and thus removing personal contact and discretion.
  • Rewarding good behavior can take the form of social rewards (e.g., integrity awards) or institutional rewards (e.g., performance awards for high-performing individuals or institutions).
  • Social marketing and behavioral approaches can help change attitudes and norms about participation in corrupt actions or the acceptability of corruption among leaders. These may support accountability as well as reduce drivers of corrupt activity.
  • Supporting civil society advocacy and "demand for reform" can help change public understanding of the costs or incidence of corruption, provide outlets to advocate for reforms, or strengthen platforms for collective action against corruption.
  • Regulating political party/election financing can increase transparency about political influence or conflicts of interest and possibly reduce opportunities for “indirect bribery” via political contributions.

Detection approaches

  • Strengthening oversight mechanism (audits, expenditure reviews, community audits) helps uncover where resources have been used differently than planned, a red flag for corruption.

Enforcement approaches

  • Investigating, prosecuting and sanctioning corrupt actions closes the loop of accountability for crimes and can be a deterrent by sending a signal that corruption will not pay.

Crossover approaches

In addition to the approaches above, there are a number of approaches that address more than one anti-corruption reform at the same time. Please see the examples below of approaches that include a mix of prevention, detection and enforcement elements.

Prevention, detection, and enforcement

  • Drafting/revising anti-corruption laws and regulations can define offenses, close accountability gaps, or strengthen penalties.
  • Supporting an anti-corruption agency through training or other resources can build specific capacities that are missing, strengthen public awareness, or facilitate better collaboration with wildlife or environmental authorities, depending on its mandate.
  • An asset declaration regime provides information that can be used to detect or prosecute conflicts of interest or unexplained wealth (where laws exist regarding the latter).
  • Transparency measures
  • Open contracting/concessioning, open budgeting) provide information on where funds come from and where they are supposed to go, which can aid detection of corruption, create opportunities for prosecution, and discourage misuse of resources.
  • Supply chain transparency may reduce opportunities for corruption by making it harder to introduce illegal products into legal supply, but may also increase pressure to avoid legal supply constraints through corruption.
  • Supporting media and investigative reporting helps reveal and amplify stories about corruption and generates evidence that can help enforcement efforts or support advocacy for reforms.

Prevention and enforcement

  • Reforming human resources management involves strengthened performance standards and systems to monitor performance. Pay rises may reduce some pressures to abuse power but are not sufficient without monitoring and accountability mechanisms.
  • Creating and enforcing codes of conduct defines acceptable and unacceptable behavior and raises among staff. As with other human resources approaches, monitoring and accountability mechanisms are a necessary corollary.

Detection and enforcement

  • Whistleblower/complaint mechanism and protecting whistleblowers can increase chances of detecting and prosecuting corrupt actions, if the system is very strong and people believe they will be protected if they report.

Internal institutional processes

Internal institutional processes help staff of implementing organizations predict, plan for and respond to corruption risks.

  • Internal policies can define acceptable and unacceptable behavior, mandate corruption risk analysis and mitigation requirements, clarify the institution’s risk appetite, or define an advocacy strategy to highlight corruption challenges.
  • Training can help staff prepare to respond if they encounter corruption or corruption requests, analyze corruption risks and develop programmatic and institutional mitigation strategies.