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The Government Defence Anti-corruption Index (GDACI) 2015 was launched in early November. This is the first global analysis of corruption risk in defence establishments worldwide that includes New Zealand.
The GDACI aims to give governments, armed forces, civil society and citizens the tools to avoid the dangers and inefficiencies that corruption in defence brings. Countries are scored in bands from very low risk (A) to critical risk (F) according to detailed, evidence-based assessment across 76 indicators. These cover five prominent risk areas in the government defence sector: politics, finance, personnel, operations, and procurement.
According to the 2015 UK Special Defence Project (UKSDP) GDACI index report, "New Zealand’s approach to military operations is an exceptional example of global best practice."
The report does call for improvements in NZDF’s approach to addressing corruption, including ratification of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), more aggressive prosecution of foreign bribery, and bidding company compliance.
Through its engagement in the process to do the GDACI, the NZDF is well placed to leverage off its A ranking. Speaking at TINZ’s 2015 AGM, General Keating said he plans to follow through on the recommendations from the review.
The 76 indicators provide an opportunity for New Zealanders to support a process to specify and implement systems for maintaining integrity right through the public service.
Coincidentally, the Organised Crimes and Anti-Corruption Amendment Bill was passed on the same day that the UKSDP report on the GDACI was released. Enacting the organised crime legislation overcomes the final obstacle to ratification of UNCAC and sets the stage for its ratification before the end of the year. Finally, ratifying UNCAC—which New Zealand signed in 2003—will eliminate a disservice to New Zealand’s reputation with regard to transparency and anti-corruption.
New Zealand has done very well in comparison to others in the GDACI—so far, only the UK Defence Force has scored well enough to join the A category. There is still room for improvement, however.
Among the issues that stood out as most needing attention included the need to strengthen the powers and scrutiny of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Select Committee charged with oversight of the basis of New Zealand’s decisions regarding defence and intelligence.
An anonymous Parliamentarian advised TINZ during the review that the opposition parties lack the resources to research the many government reports they receive. Line-by-line analysis is hard to find and seldom gets close to the sensitive items. Unless opposition members are alerted by someone about an upcoming area to investigate in advance, the opposition parties may miss out during the short time given to Select Committee discussion.
Also noted is that it is never comfortable for a Minister to be open on some topics related to defence. Historically, there used to be time for cross examinations, but then new protections came in.
As a process of civil society engaging with government, the GDACI has been an enlightening experience for me and I would like to congratulate those involved across several government agencies for the free and frank manner in which TINZ has been able to meet and discuss this review. This type of interaction with civil society is sorely lacking in general, so to find it an area often perceived as more closed was heartening.
With the NZDF taking steps to improve its political, financial, personnel, operational and procurement processes, it would now be good to see the same thing done across government.
Transparency International New Zealand