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Director, Transparency International New Zealand
The Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index 2015 will be the second global analysis of corruption risk in defence establishments worldwide. However, it is the first analysis that includes New Zealand. The Index 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 assessment across 76 indicators that cover five prominent risk areas in the government defence sector: politics, finance, personnel, operations, and procurement.
“Corruption in defence is dangerous, divisive and wasteful, and the cost is paid by citizens, soldiers, companies and governments. Yet the majority of governments do too little to prevent it, leaving numerous opportunities to hide corruption away from public scrutiny and waste money that could be better spent,” explains Mark Pyman, Director of Transparency International UK’s Defence and Security Programme.
Transparency International calls on governments to make this traditionally secretive sector, which involves large public contracts, more open. Defence establishments should increase citizens’ access to information about defence budgets and procurement. Legislators should have stronger controls and oversight of the sector, possessing the teeth and access to cut corruption down.
As the TINZ Director leading the review of the draft report on behalf of the TINZ Board, I see this as a fantastic opportunity to take a closer look at how we are doing in New Zealand in comparison to other countries. Although the "Integrity Plus 2013 New Zealand National Integrity Systems Assessment" covers the public sector, it does not have a particular focus on Defence, so this will deepen our knowledge.
We are aspirational in New Zealand and have enjoyed being at the top of lists when it comes to transparency and lack of corruption. However, we need to remain vigilant and seek improvements where we can if we are to continue to earn that spot. In order to stay at the forefront we must be unapologetic about demanding the highest standards, and leading rather than following in this area.
TINZ and all of NZ Civil society, along with Defence and the public sector, must embrace this opportunity as a chance to take a good look at how we are performing in a globalised world. New Zealand does seem to be in its own little bubble sometimes. Norms for us behavior-wise are not the necessarily the norms of our allies and others with whom we need to work. With corruption, prevention is always better than cure.
To quote Senator J Fulbright, “To criticize one's country is to do it a service and pay it a compliment. It is a service because it may spur the country to do better than it is doing; it is a compliment because it evidences a belief that the country can do better than it is doing. .... In a democracy dissent is an act of faith.’”
You can find out more at http://government.defenceindex.org/. The report for 2015 is due out in September.