Published on January 27, 2014
Tackling Corruption: Strengthening Civil SocietyLed ICT Initiatives Olivier Serrat 2014 The views expressed in this presentation are the views of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Asian Development Bank, or its Board of Governors, or the governments they represent. ADB does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included in this presentation and accepts no responsibility for any consequence of their use. The countries listed in this presentation do not imply any view on ADB's part as to sovereignty or independent status or necessarily conform to ADB's terminology.
The Reach of ICT Information and communication technology— defined here as technologies that facilitate by electronic means the processing, transmission, and display of information—is one of the most powerful forces shaping the 21st century. Through faster and cheaper communication, ICT provides the means for sweeping reorganization of business; boosts efficiency and productivity; reduces transaction costs and barriers to entry; allows people to seek, acquire, and share expertise, ideas, services, and technologies locally, nationally, regionally, and across the world; and generally makes markets work more efficiently. Globalization is its most pronounced outcome.
The Reach of ICT Bearing in mind that almost half the world— over three billion people—live on less than $2.50 a day, developing countries that harness ICT for internet and mobile phone connectivity can leapfrog stages of development. This said, ICT can serve goals other than sustainable economic growth and public welfare: given the primacy of governance in underpinning development effectiveness, one of ICT's most important applications is in e-government.
Define:e-Government E-government (short for electronic government) refers to the use of ICT to enhance service delivery in the public sector, allow greater public access to information, and make government more transparent vis-à-vis and accountable to citizens. It encompasses digital interactions between a government and citizens, government and business, government and employees, and government and governments.
ICT in e-Government The use of ICT in e-government is a major focus. Its appeal owes to the enormous and other interventions with potential to improve public service delivery, increase transparency and accountability in government agencies, and raise the level of participation available to citizens in the governance process. Motives and incentives owe severally to (i) interest in the promise of e-government and open data to improve government; (ii) interest in the potential of open data as a resource for growth and innovation; (iii) a desire to use ICT to address specific principal–agent problems; (iv) outside or competitive pressure; (v) bottom-up pressure from citizens; or (vi) a desire to domesticate otherwise disruptive technologies.
Define:Corruption E-government interventions can help fight corruption. Corruption is the abuse of public office for private gain. Whether grand or petty, it can occur at all levels of society: in local and national government, in the judiciary, in large and small businesses, in the police and military, etc. Regardless of where it takes place, it tends to affect the poorest sectors of society the most in the competition for scarce resources and inadequately funded services. It must be prevented, detected, analyzed, and addressed.
Government-Led ICT Interventions Against Corruption 1. Transparency Portals—Offer timely publication of key government documents online. 2. Open Data Portals— Provide free access to datasets in machinereadable formats. 3. Service Automation— Replaces discretionary decision making by public officials with auditable software processes. 4. Online Services— Allow citizens to selfserve for public service access.
Civil Society-Led ICT Interventions Against Corruption 5. Online Right-toInformation Requests— Allow citizens to file right- to-information requests. 6. Crowdsourced Reporting—Allows citizens to report corruption or grievances and publically share data on reports and trends. 7. Online Corruption Reporting—Allows citizens to report corruption or grievances. 8. Issue Reporting— Allows citizens to report problems with public services.
Eight Kinds of ICT Interventions Against Corruption Government-Led ICT Interventions—Interventions 1 and 2 seek transparency reforms; interventions 3 and 4 aim at transaction reforms. Civil Society-Led ICT Interventions—Interventions 5 and 6 seek transparency reforms. Interventions 7 and 8 aim at transaction reforms.
Aspects of Civil Society-Led Anticorruption ICT Initiatives The majority of ICT-enabled anticorruption initiatives originate from civil society. Even where governments adopt ICT innovations for reasons not related to their anticorruption potential, civil society action can help secure anticorruption uses of the technology. Civil society-led interventions have been of two kinds: push and pull. In the former, citizens speak up and communicate their experience of an issue; in the latter, they draw information from available sources and use that to act in some way. (Evidently, the two approaches are not mutually exclusive.)
Aspects of Civil Society-Led Anticorruption ICT Initiatives Civil society organizations that enjoy a trusted relationship with their members or constituencies can channel information between these and government. Where they have avoided questionable allegiances they can also serve as watchdogs. In addition, if they are well-developed, they can represent a wide variety of interests and bring diverse perspectives to design strategy and increase chances of success. Of course, not all civil society organizations display these ideal attributes: limits may be imposed by government, resources, or citizens themselves (who may not be sufficiently aware of the costs of corruption).
Strengthening Civil Society-Led Anticorruption ICT Initiatives Development agencies can strengthen civil society's contribution to the fight against corruption. Across the four kinds of reforms it typically advocates, they can: Foster institutional environments conducive to the development of civil society and its participation in public affairs. Promote the cooperation of public and civil society actors in anticorruption efforts. Encourage a broad mobilization against corruption. Develop the capacities of civil society organizations that fight corruption, including technical capacity.
Strengthening Civil Society-Led Anticorruption ICT Initiatives To foster institutional environments, they can fund projects and programs that: Advance basic civil liberties that allow for an active public participation in anticorruption activities and other public affairs. Promulgate legislation that facilitates the establishment of civil society organizations. Promote the development of independent media, able to scrutinize government operations freely. Contribute to increase government's transparency and cooperation with civil society organizations.
Strengthening Civil Society-Led Anticorruption ICT Initiatives To promote cooperation, they can: Boost outreach initiatives such as the ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia and the Pacific. To encourage a broad mobilization, they can: Strengthen citizen support for existing civil society organizations that fight corruption. Equally, increase the participation of organizations whose primary interest is not to fight corruption.
Strengthening Civil Society-Led Anticorruption ICT Initiatives To develop capacities, they can: Provide civil society organizations with information and expertise. Sponsor training programs. Contribute funds. Encourage partnerships between civil society actors.
In a Nutshell Transparency and accountability are central to the fight against corruption. Corruption's most pernicious effect is that it undermines faith in public institutions. Because corruption is a function of both the opportunity to abuse public office and the risk of detection, ICT is an invaluable tool to bridge demand for and supply of good governance. Working with civil society to fight corruption, development agencies can integrate ICT interventions for online right-to-information requests, crowdsourced reporting, online corruption reporting, and issue reporting across a broad spectrum of outreach activities that foster institutional environments, promote cooperation, encourage a broad mobilization, and develop capacities.
Further Reading • OECD. 2003. Fighting Corruption: What Role for Civil Society? The Experience of the OECD. Paris. • Tim Davies and Silvana Fumega. 2013. Mixed Incentives: Adopting ICT Innovation in the Fight against Corruption. Practical Participation. Draft Working Paper for U4 AntiCorruption Resource Centre. • ADB. 2014. Tackling Corruption Through Civil Society-Led Information and Communication Initiatives. Manila. Available: www.adb.org/publications/series/knowledge-showcase • ADB. 2014. Fighting Corruption with ICT: Strengthening Civil Society's Role. Manila. (Forthcoming)
Olivier Serrat Principal Knowledge Management Specialist Regional and Sustainable Development Department Asian Development Bank email@example.com www.adb.org/knowledge-management www.facebook.com/adbknowledgesolutions www.scribd.com/knowledge_solutions www.twitter.com/adbknowledge
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