Corruption is concealed. It can be reduced by greater transparency.
As explained in What is Corruption, GIACC uses the term “corruption” in the wider sense to include bribery, extortion, fraud, cartels, abuse of power, embezzlement, and money laundering. Consequently, the discussion in this section applies to all such criminal activity.
Secrecy facilitates corrupt activity and its concealment. Consequently, transparency is an important anti-corruption measure.
Organisations should endeavour where possible to increase transparency in their operations.
Greater transparency will not only help to reduce corruption. It will also help improve the image of the organisation.
Reasons given for confidentiality should be examined carefully. They may not be valid. For example, claims of necessary commercial confidentiality may be a guise for concealing corrupt dealings.
An organisation should endeavour to ensure that the projects and contracts in which it is involved are transparent as far as is reasonable and possible. So, for example, a public sector project owner should ensure transparency on its projects, and other participants in the project (such as funders, consultants and contractors) should require or encourage such transparency. The nature of transparency which should be provided on projects is outlined below.
Public sector projects are wholly or partly publicly-owned, publicly financed or publicly guaranteed. The public is entitled to information as to how public funds are being spent and whether such funds are being properly spent. Transparency should, therefore, be a matter of public entitlement, not a matter of choice by the public sector.
Freedom of information legislation which permits members of the public to be provided with information following a request by them is a step towards greater transparency, but is not adequate. This is because this process of disclosure occurs only if a request is made by the public, and results in piecemeal disclosure of some information only to those members of the public that have made the request. It may also result in disclosure being slow and information emerging too late to be of any use. In addition, a request can only be made for disclosure in relation to information the requester knows exists.
Transparency should involve disclosure of project information to the public on a prompt and regular basis.
Greater transparency on public sector projects will help materially to reduce corruption. It will have the following results:
The public sector project owner is responsible to the public for delivery of the project, and for ensuring as far as possible that there is no corruption on the project. Consequently, the project owner should be responsible for the disclosure of project information to the public. Much of the information will be in the project owner’s possession, or will be readily available to the project owner. Where this is not the case, the project owner may (for example, through relevant terms of contract) require other project participants to provide the necessary information and to agree to its disclosure to the public.
The funder should require transparency to be provided in relation to those projects which it is funding and should be willing to provide transparency of all project financing details.
Other project participants, such as contractors and consultants, should co-operate with the project owner in providing information for disclosure, encourage project transparency where the project owner is failing to provide transparency, and require their sub-contractors, agents, subsidiary and related companies to provide transparency. This will help to reduce the risk of their own involvement in corruption, whether as perpetrators or victims. It will also help to ensure that the project is carried out properly and at proper cost.
The method of disclosure will depend on the technology available and the degree to which the public has access to that technology. The preferred method should be disclosure on the project owner’s website. However, if there is inadequate public access to the web, then the information should be made available at the project owner’s offices, or by whatever means will maximise public availability. The public should be informed that the information is available.
The argument in favour of compulsory disclosure on private sector projects is not as strong as on public sector projects, as public money is not at stake. However, private sector project owners may, for the sake of good governance and transparency, wish to implement all or some of the above disclosure recommendations on their projects.
The Project Anti-Corruption System (PACS) provides rationale and recommendations as to the specific disclosure to be provided on infrastructure projects (see PACS Standard – PS 2).
Updated on 10th April 2020