Global AC Impacts, Post #11: Breaking the Corruption Cycle: “Aggressive Accountability”

December 9 is known as International Anticorruption Day, commemorating the passage of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in 2003. It is a time for governments and the general public to reassert their commitment to breaking the cycle of corruption. No anticorruption approach has been tested and proven to be effective 100 percent of the time. But there are some lessons that have been learned about what “line of attack” might work much of the time to reduce corrupt tendencies – and to break this deeply embedded corruption cycle. It’s a three-step integrated process that we call “Aggressive Accountability.”


Global AC Impacts, Post #10: How to Self-Assess Anticorruption Progress

Effective programming depends on good assessments of past activities and the current situation in a country. But many anticorruption initiatives are designed based on questionable measurement of corruption trends and perceptual surveys and indices. Our field research demonstrates that looking at the other side of the coin – monitoring the progress that a country makes in implementing governance reforms – may be a better approach. Our checklist is easy for resident Mission staff to use as a self-monitoring device and it results in targeted programming ideas to fill gaps.


Global AC Impacts, Post #9: What to Avoid

An earlier technical note synthesized what we’ve learned about “what works” in fighting corruption based on several rigorous meta-analysis studies. Equally important for anticorruption programmers is to know “what to avoid” and where we just don’t know enough. Here’s what those studies tell us.


Global AC Impacts, Post #8: Costs vs. Benefits

When it comes to measuring corruption, our inclination is usually to measure how it imposes negative costs and harm. But what about the other side of the coin? Do successful anticorruption programs introduce positive rewards? In this technical note – Better to Measure the Rewards of Effective Anticorruption Programs than the Costs of Corruption – we describe our research on the linkages between good anticorruption efforts and socio-economic progress in developing countries, as well as implications for how to best monitor program performance.


This technical note is based on a research article by Bert Spector published in the academic journal, Crime, Law and Social Change, June 2016. Read the full article at: The Benefits of Anti-Corruption Programming: Implications for Low to Lower Middle Income Countries.

Global AC Impacts, Post #7: Where Does Anticorruption programming fit in the new Administration’s priorities for international development?

Several USAID Missions have identified five key areas where our foreign assistance dollars may be targeted in coming years (click here). Interestingly, anticorruption activities are explicitly mentioned in two of these priority areas and have a definite place in the other three.

  1. Aligning with U.S. National Security Objectives. Programming can focus on reducing corruption which is seen as a contributing factor of violent extremism, transnational crime, illegal trafficking and illegal migration.
  2. Asserting U.S. Leadership and Influence. Anticorruption programs can ensure that emergency and humanitarian assistance provided in the future actually reaches and supports those in need, rather than enriching corrupt officials.
  3. Fostering Economic Opportunities for the American People. Programming should combat corruption to strengthen business-enabling environments that facilitate U.S. trade and investment.
  4. Addressing USAID’s Comparative Advantages. Anticorruption programming can assist certain low-performing countries to achieve adequate thresholds of accountability, making them eligible for MCC or DoD support.
  5. Prioritizing Transformational Potential. Programming anticorruption activities to incentivize and remove barriers across all sectors where aid is provided.

Given this new scoping of USAID’s objectives, anticorruption programs are still vital players in the international development arena. But we may need to think beyond the traditional governance and economic growth sectors where anticorruption efforts have largely been focused up until now. We should keep our minds open to initiate anticorruption programs targeted at security issues, providing thresholds for other development assistance efforts, and embedding anticorruption in all sectoral programs.

We hope you have been reading the short technical notes we’ve been sending you over the past four months and finding them helpful as you consider future programming options. We have presented empirical research on what anticorruption interventions work to achieve desired impacts. And we’ve tried to frame this research within the parameters of the new Administration’s priorities.

MSI’s technical notes series will be taking the summer off. New technical notes will begin in the fall. 

Global AC Impacts, Post #6: What Works in Fighting Corruption: Making Sense of Evidence-Based Findings

Much anticorruption programming is based on one-time case studies and anecdotes about what works. But recently, there have been several systematic studies sponsored by USAID and DFID that have analyzed the quantitative results of past projects with the goal of learning what really works. In this technical note – What Works in Fighting Corruption: Making Sense of Evidence-Based Findings – we integrate the evidence-based findings from four of these studies to offer some clear guidance for future anticorruption programs.


Global AC Impacts, Post #5: Implementing Effective Anticorruption Programs in Post-Conflict Countries 

International and bilateral donors have poured large sums of money into post-conflict countries like Afghanistan and Iraq to hasten security, stabilize the peace, rebuild governance, and stimulate economic and social development. Often, a cross-cutting goal is to combat corruption in these fragile states and major programs have been designed and implemented to promote anti-corruption reforms. Are the expectations for these programs unrealistic? Have they yielded results? Are post-conflict countries ready and capable of implementing the difficult legal, political, economic and cultural changes that are required to reduce or prevent corruption? Read more in our newest technical note – Implementing Effective Anticorruption Programs in Post-Conflict Countries.


Global AC Impacts, Post #4: Anticorruption Resilience: Why Some Countries Succeed Against the Odds.

Some countries appear to have the capacity to rebound from overwhelming levels of corruption while others tread water or get worse. What makes for the difference? We analyze our database to examine this question and explain the outcomes. Read more in our newest technical note – Anticorruption Resilience: Why Some Countries Succeed Against the Odds.


Global AC Impacts, Post #3: Positive Impacts of Anticorruption Programs on Trade and Investment.

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How can US trade and investment be promoted through anticorruption? We analyze our database of USAID-funded anticorruption initiatives (from 2007 to 2013) to examine this question, provide examples, and explain the outcomes. Read more in our newest technical note – Positive Impacts of Anticorruption Programs on Trade and Investment.


Global AC Impacts, Post #2: More Economic Rewards for Developing Countries and Donors as a Result of Effective Anticorruption Programs

regulationsandrulesIn the previous technical note in this series, we discussed some positive effects of successfully implemented anticorruption reforms on strengthening the business-enabling environment and promoting the inflow of foreign direct investment and trade. But how do effective anticorruption programs impact on regulatory structures that can restrict trade, investment and economic activity?


Global AC Impacts, Post #1: Effective Anticorruption Programs Promote More Foreign Investment and Trade

ShipIMGMSI is pleased to share with you some practical research findings we’ve developed on the impacts of anticorruption programs worldwide. Over the next few months, we’ll be sending you links to short technical notes we have written that offer evidence-based insights on how donor support for effective anticorruption initiatives can produce significant results that:

  • – Improve business opportunities for US foreign trade and investment
  • – Reduce state fragility and vulnerability to terrorist activity
  • – Boost the private sector and economic growth
  • – Improve a country’s standard of living and human and social development

Our results are focused on demonstrating what, when and how anticorruption initiatives are effective in advancing such development goals. The first of our technical notes shows how successful anticorruption programs foster increased foreign investment that can benefit US business and trade into the future.



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