Anti Corruption

The Need for an Innovative A-C Program

Indeed, we witness that there are public officials who win their mandates on anticorruption electoral platforms and public managers/civil servants who are concerned about corruption. But, their usual approaches to fight corruption by passing new laws, dictating codes of conduct, training public administrators and buying computers, are not producing good enough results. These steps are not so much wrong as incomplete.

The A-C Methodology

The authors of the A-C Methodology are Ana Vasilache and Nicole Rata/FPDL, who worked in close collaboration with Ronald MacLean Abaroa, former Mayor of La Paz/Bolivia, using Professor Robert Klitgaard theoretical frameowork.

The A-C Methodology gained international recognition by UN Public Service Award and is included in widely used workbooks, translated into many languages.

The A-C Practitioners

Trained change agents certified by FPDL as Anticorruption Practitioners, armed with the appropriate conceptual tools, support mayors and municipal employees embark in the reform process.

The A-C Program Activities

In order to create islands of integrity and effectiveness at local level, we enhance both the supply-side and the demand-side of the public sector reform, as the graph shows.

The Need for an Innovative A-C Methodology

Indeed, we witness that there are public officials who win their mandates on anticorruption electoral platforms and public managers/civil servants who are concerned about corruption. But, their usual approaches to fight corruption by passing new laws, dictating codes of conduct, training public administrators and buying computers, are not producing good enough results. These steps are not so much wrong as incomplete.

Having state-of-the-art laws doesn’t guarantee their implementation. Codes of conduct are often only ornaments. Data about % of citizens who pay bribes doesn’t tell what corrective actions should be taken.

Our innovative A-C Methodology is based on the lessons learned from a real successful experience in reducing corruption. With the right leadership and the right assistance, this A-C Methodology can have a real impact in the fight against corruption.

The anticorruption global movement began with making development agencies and governments be no longer in denial and discuss about corruption in an open and systematic way, and further developed standards through international conventions such as the UN Convention against Corruption. But the phase that is following logically, the implementation and enforcement of these standards, is the most difficult and by far the most challenging: literally thousands of people and hundreds of organizations all around the globe, both in and out of government, should be reached and involved.

Our innovative A-C Methodology is providing tools and instruments for that to happen.

The national anticorruption strategies focus mainly on the centralized, top-down control of corruption, by creating or strengthening anticorruption legislation, empowering the institutions of law and order, enlarging the judicial and investigative systems, and encouraging the capacity of civil society to play “watch-dog” roles. The general aim of all these strategies is to intimidate by increasing the probability of discovering corruption, and enforcing severe penalties that will hopefully deter future corrupt activities. Even if more control, more laws and more pressure are necessary, they are not sufficient for making significant changes in the way public institutions perform. People, nor institutions, really change solely under outside pressure, as no illness can be cured without the patient’s active involvement; change needs the willing participation of those affected by it.

Our innovative A-C Methodology is providing the necessary tools and instruments for making change happen, with the active participation of those who are the problem, by allowing them to become the source of the solution.

A growing literature is centered around the idea of “pockets of effectiveness” in the public sector reforms: public organizations, which provide public goods and services relatively effectively in a hostile environment dominated by poor management and bad governance. The researchers[1] tried to explain why these pockets of effectiveness happen and what are the conditions for them to prosper. They suggested that problem identification, engagement with multiple stakeholders, step-by-step experimentation, and political endorsement are the approaches that more likely lead to solutions.

In a similar way, our A-C Methodology strives to create, since more than 10 years, islands of effectiveness and integrity at local level, in the relatively corrupt and mismanaged public administration sea.

[1] About “Pockets of Effectiveness”:

The Anti Corruption Methodology

The authors of the A-C Methodology are Ana Vasilache and Nicole Rata/FPDL, who worked in close collaboration with Ronald MacLean Abaroa, former Mayor of La Paz/Bolivia, using Professor Robert Klitgaard theoretical frameowork.

In 2011 the UN Committee of Public Administration Experts selected Craiova/Romania to receive the UN Public Service Award, under the category “Preventing and Combating Corruption in the Public Service”. Craiova LG applied the A-C Methodology with Ana Vasilache and Nicole Rata/FPDL support.
In 2011 the UN Committee of Public Administration Experts selected Craiova/Romania to receive the UN Public Service Award, under the category “Preventing and Combating Corruption in the Public Service”. Craiova LG applied the A-C Methodology with Ana Vasilache and Nicole Rata/FPDL support.

The A-C Methodology gained international recognition by UN Public Service Award and is included in widely used workbooks, translated into many languages.

The A-C Methodology is inspired by Ronald MacLean Abaroa successful experience as Mayor of La Paz, Bolivia, who applied, supported by his Harvard mentor, Professor Robert Klitgaard, an approach which they called, a therapeutic approach to a sick institution[[1].  Starting his mandate in the context of Bolivia’s worst economic crisis ever, where corruption was everywhere and public authority and public services were collapsing, Mayor Ronald MacLean Abaroa and his team, within the first two years of his administration, were able to address corruption and create an island of effectiveness and integrity, by successfully restoring and improving the municipal government services, multiplying city revenues, increasing investments in public works tenfold while regaining the city’s international creditworthiness. Last but not least, he was democratically voted back to office four times.

We have developed a replicable A-C Methodology of his anticorruption approach that we successfully disseminated, adapted and applied, in 12 CEE/SEE countries and 25 local governments, attracting the interest of many mayors, practitioners and academics. The results proved, to many public and civil society leaders, who were thinking that nothing can be done about corruption, that with the appropriate approach, their commitment and participation, corruption can be cured and prevented.

One of the main assumptions, underlying this methodology, is that most people are basically honest, if the system allows them to prosper within the realm of the law. Except for the corrupt who ride the system for their private gain, there are potentially honest public officials willing to address corruption and improve the way their organizations (and themselves) perform, given that they could receive proper recognition and reasonable incentives; and that the organization does not offer them opportunities and temptations for misusing their position for private gains.

We propose to these public leaders and managers a new, rational/strategic methodology, based on which they can

  • identify and treat with priority the most dangerous forms of corruption,
  • focus on changing not (only) corrupt individuals but the public policies and organizational systems that breed corruption,
  • “break the taboo” and start talking openly about corruption and its dangerous effects, involving in the process of change staff as well as outside affected stakeholders.

In fewer words, we propose that they act as institutional reformers rather than judges or prosecutors.

The A-C Methodology includes the following main stages:

  • Clarify responsibilities for the process implementation, between the APs team and the clients, the Mayors/LGs. An agreement is signed between each Mayor/LG and the APs team organization leaders.
  • Organize the Guiding Coalition teams in each of the LGs, having as leaders the Mayors and including close colaborators, main departments directors – public managers, elected officials). Identify a contact person in each LG, responsible for monitoring LGs assumed tasks
  • General and In-depth Diagnosis of the organizations vulnerability to corruption, implemented through the following steps:
    • Workshop for the Guiding Coalition (GC) members, aimed (1) at deepending their understanding of the anticorruption methodology process steps/results; (2) at elaborating a vision of their clean and fair organization; (3) at doing a preliminary general diagnosis to identify the most vulnerable to corruption activities that are obstacles in achieving the vision;
    • Validating vision and preliminary results, through conducting an extended survey involving majority of staff and elected officials. The anonimous survey is implemented under the Mayor’s responsibility, but monitored and processed by the APs team, who prepares a General Diagnosis Report to be discussed with the GC members, in order to identify the most vulnerable activities that will be the focus of further stages
    • Workshop for the GC members, to perform a preliminary in-depth diagnosis
    • Validating preliminary in-depth diagnosis results through conducting extended anonimous survey inside and outside the organization (depending on time constraints)
    • APs team processes results and present them to the GC members
  • Solutions/strategies elaboration to address the vulnerability to corruption causes relying in the organizations malfunctioning and the organization culture. The following steps are implemented:
    • Forming Working groups/activity (3-4) and facilitate their work to elaborate solutions/strategies, supported by experts (if needed)
    • Embedding training in the process, to improve GC/working groups members leadership and managerial capacity, their understanding of the culture of their organizations and the change management process.
  • Structuring Strategic Plans into documents to be approved by local councils

The strength of this A-C Methodology does not rely solely in identifying vulnerable activities to corruption, which are similar in many countries and public organizations: in CEE/SEE it was not surprising that almost all LGs identified as vulnerable to corruption simiar activities such as public infrastructure construction and monitoring, public procurement, issuing of building permits, public assets management or human resources management.

The famous Willie Sutton claimed that he robs banks because that’s where the money is! That is why the identified vulnerable to corruption activities were not a surprise for those who know that these are the activities where corruption can spoil significant amounts of public money, hindering cities development, creating social inequalities and distrust in public authorities. Consequently, gains will be significant if we are able to treat and prevent corruption in these areas.

The participatory diagnosis through which vulnerable to corruption activities/services are identified, uses as frame of analysis the main concepts on which La Paz approach relied:

  • Corruption is breeded by the system in which there is Monopoly over an activity or service delivery, there is Discretion in decision making (no clear rules/procedures, or too many contradicting rules/procedures) and there are not Accountability/ Transparency mechanisms: C=M+D-A/T
  • Corruption is an act of rational, economic calculation: people tend to be involved in corrupt actions when they forsee that the gain will be bigger than the loss if caught, and of course, the probability of being cought and punished is very low

The strength of this A-C Methodology does not rely solely on prescribing what should be done, as many libraries have plenty of books with solutions that follow the conceptual frame as used in the diagnosis process:

  • Break monopoly by increasing competition in activities/services delivery
  • Decrease discretion in decision making by establishing and enforcing clear rules/procedures
  • Increase accountability and transparency of activities/services delivery by effective management of information and data
  • Increase the probability of being caught and punished by effective control mechanisms
  • Decrease the relative value of the gain versus the loss, by creating incentives/motivation for performant and honest behaviour

The strength of this A-C Methodology relies primarily on the participatory process power to bring the planned changes into existence. Through the involvement of public leaders, managers and employees, trust and commitment are created for the planned changes implementation; people connect to each other as human beings with real concerns and issues; discussions focus on what they can do, and not on what others can or need to do for them; and last but not least, a deeper, shared understanding of the corrupt systems in place emerges and a treatment plan is developed, for curing and prevention, that no outsider could better do.

[1] Robert Kligaard, Ronald MacLean Abaroa and Lindsey Parris, Corrupt Cities – a practical guide to cure and prevention

The Anti-Corruption Practitioners

anti-corruption-practitioners

Trained change agents certified by FPDL as Anticorruption Practitioners, armed with the appropriate conceptual tools, support mayors and municipal employees embark in the reform process.

The Anticorruption Practitioners help people discuss analytically and without fear of punishment about their organization vulnerabilities. Since corruption is a concept loaded with emotions, with fear, shame or defensiveness, their first task is to demystify and approach it in an analytical way that demonstrates that corruption is not (just) a problem of bad people but of bad systems; that corruption is a symptom of organizational malfunctioning and that addressing corruption is only the entry point in the process of reinventing a better and fairer public organization.

These change agents are social entrepreneurs who are fundamentally different from the civil society activists[1]: Historically, activists have proceeded largely as outsiders to power and by contrast social entrepreneurs frequently combine outside and inside oriented tactics to bring change. Outside activists have convinced institutions that they need to change; social entrepreneurs working on the inside show them what to do and help them do it.

The certified A-C Practitioners form a network of like-minded, committed professionals working for NGOs, universities or consulting companies, in Albania, BiH, Belgium, Croatia, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania and Serbia.

They were supported by FPDL, financially (through different funding sources, such as LGI/OSI, WB, UNDP or FOSM) and professionally by PAP* Tutors, to work with local governments from Albania, BiH, Croatia, Kosovo, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania and Serbia.

[1] David Brnstein and Susan Davis On Social Entrepreneurship

The Anti-Corruption Program Activities

In order to create islands of integrity and effectiveness at local level, we enhance both the supply-side and the demand-side of the public sector reform, as the graph shows.

anti-corruption-activities

The outcomes are tangible:

  • Islands of integrity and effectiveness, as role models: local governments with improved public works and services, greater citizen trust and satisfaction, better municipal balance sheets and more efficient management of public assets
  • Local capacity able to replicate a methodology that shows how improvements can be made, sequenced and institutionalized

PAP*- Program for Anticorruption Practitioners

PAP* has two components: Knowledge Building and Skills Building

Awareness Raising of Public Leaders/Managers

High level local public officials (mayors/public managers) as well as other stakeholders from central administration level or from other interested multilaterals, international and national organizations, are invited to attend Conferences and Workshops, during which the A-C Program is launched. The aim is to raise awareness and interest of the demand side representatives for the strategic and participatory A-C Methodology.

Working Together to apply the A-C Methodology

Galvanizing Improvements in Local Governments

In order to match supply and demand sides, willing mayors/public managers and competent anticorruption practitioners, selection processes take place. The best A-c Practitioners are supported, professionally and financially, to work with one of the selected mayors/local governments.

ACT* Anti-Corruption Training

ACT (2015-2017) is a training that goes beyond training and strives to make positive changes at municipalities level in the Eastern Partnership Area: Georgia, Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine. Is financed by the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and implemented in partnership with UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub.