Photo credit: Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank
Tens of millions of dollars have been spent to understand the causes of corruption and extensive reform efforts aimed at reducing and preventing corruption have been launched. As part of these reforms, many countries have established some type of Anti-corruption Authorities (ACAs) as a key element in their effort to fight corruption. Some ACAs have been successful and have made progress in the fight against corruption, others less so. As a result, the World Bank, in collaboration with the United Nation Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the US State Department and the European Commission, agreed to create a platform for ACAs to share their experiences.
This initiative was initially launched following a two-day workshop on Anti-Corruption Authorities (ACAs) on March 24-25, 2010, which brought together 32 participants from 20 countries, including ACA Heads, practitioners, academics and other key stakeholders from around the globe.
Since 2010, the World Bank, with the support of the US State Department and in collaboration with UNODC has reached out to ACAs and gathered information and materials that could help ACAs in their work. This knowledge is hosted in this portal. In December 2013, the World Bank also completed an e-learning course based on information provided by ACAs. The e-learning is accessible to everyone on this Portal.
As of today more than 63 agencies have responded and shared their experiences and lessons learnt while implementing an Anticorruption Strategy in their country or region. The World Bank endeavors to update this portal. This platform would have not been possible without their cooperation and the cooperation of the 2010 Workshop participants who selflessly shared their challenges, experiences and ideas.
Forms. ACAs can take many forms and display different functions (prevention, investigation, prosecution, policy and research, outreach). Organizational theory recommends establishing agencies with a single mandate for greater effectiveness. However, we have observed effective ACAs among both single function agencies and multi-function agencies
Functions. In support of their mandates, ACAs are often required to design, implement and/or monitor integrity systems across the public sector. These include financial disclosures for public officials; freedom of information; and whistle-blower protection. Implementation of these systems can represent a significant part of the ACA‟s workload and can reduce resources available for work in other areas.
Coordination. Whether the ACAs model follows a single or multi-agency model, ACAs have to coordinate with numerous public institutions across the range of their functions. Typically, these will include institutions responsible for investigation and prosecution (where these functions are not internalized), the audit authority, the ombudsman, the financial intelligence unit, tax authorities, regulatory authorities, ministries and agencies across the public sector.
Human Resources. ACAs report difficulties in attracting and retaining suitably qualified staff. This is partly a consequence of the shortage of suitably qualified individuals in the labor market; partly a result of the differentials between public and private sector pay; and partly a consequence of the risks and social pressures arising from the nature of anticorruption work. Human resource constraints underline both the role of effective personnel management and investments in staff training.
Independence and leadership. ACAs interviewed have either a single agency head or a commission, ranging from two to seven members. Most ACAs have arrangements in place to ensure that appointments meet basic qualification and integrity requirements. Most also seek to protect the independence of ACA leadership from political influence. Typically, ACA leadership is appointed for a specific term. In around one quarter of cases, the ACA leadership can only be dismissed by another branch of government. This separation of powers does mitigate political pressures on the ACA . However, these arrangements are not always effective..
Expectations and communication. About three quarters of ACAs have some form of communications and media strategies. Communications tend to focus on awareness-raising. Virtually all ACAs report that managing public expectations is a significant challenge. This is particularly true for newly created ACAs: citizens expect the agency to have an immediate impact on their daily experience of corruption, while most AC efforts require a medium-term horizon to have an impact.
The World Bank can support ACAs through knowledge sharing and technical assistance in any of the following organizational and institutional areas:
The World Bank is a knowledge bank that can facilitate the sharing of information and experiences across different countries. Through this portal and the collection of information and data from existing ACAs and practitioners, the World Bank aims at sharing knowledge among those interested in the area of anticorruption.
In selected cases and in response to the explicit request of ACAs or governments, the World Bank can provide technical assistance on specific issues to support the design and/or implementation of a country’s anticorruption framework.