Corruption Perceptions Index 2015

The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (TI-CPI) scores and ranks countries/territories based on how corrupt a country’s public sector is perceived to be.

The TI-CPI was established in 1995 as a composite indicator used to measure perceptions of corruption in the public sector in different countries around the world. During the past 20 years, both the sources used to compile the index and the methodology has been adjusted and refined. The last major revision was in 2012, simplifying the method used to aggregate different data sources and establishing a methodology to allow comparison of scores over time.

New Zealand's score

The concerning thing about New Zealand's 2015 TI-CPI result is that its score fell from 91 to 88. While in earlier years the TI-CPI was calculated largely based on qualitative surveys, the methodology has since been refined. Recent scores have been derived from an increasing proportion of quantitative data that provide a basis for analysing the factors that contribute to transparency.

For the 2015 TI-CPI Index, there are 12 data sources. Of these, seven pertain to New Zealand. Two of these, the Bertelsmann Foundation Sustainable Governance Indicators 2015 and the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2015, are publicly available online. The other 5 data sources are available only to subscribers. As at the time of print, TINZ was unable to identify anyone in New Zealand who subscribed to these five sources, a starting point for a public sector serious about international perceptions of corruption would be to gain access to the other 5 data sources.

The 12 data sources are listed below with the ones providing data to compile into New Zealand’s TI-CPI score indicated by (NZ).

  1. African Development Bank Governance Ratings 2014
  2. Bertelsmann Foundation Sustainable Governance Indicators 2015 (NZ)
  3. Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index 2016
  4. Economist Intelligence Unit Country Risk Ratings 2015 (NZ)
  5. Freedom House Nations in Transit 2015
  6. Global Insight Country Risk Ratings 2014 (NZ)
  7. IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2015 (NZ)
  8. Political and Economic Risk Consultancy Asian Intelligence 2015
  9. Political Risk Services International Country Risk Guide 2015 (NZ)
  10. World Bank - Country Policy and Institutional Assessment 2014
  11. World Economic Forum Executive Opinion Survey (EOS) 2015 (NZ)
  12. World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2015 (NZ)

A feature of more recent TI-CPI score calculations is that there is a greater proportion of quantitative data calibrated along with surveys of perceptions.

World Justice Project analysis

Comparing the results to the World Justice Project analysis, there are areas where New Zealand's transparency has been assessed as having improved and others where it has fallen.

New Zealand’s overall score of the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index is illustrated below.

Bertelsmann Foundation Sustainable Governance Index

The other available source in the Bertelsmann Foundation Sustainable Governance Index (SGI). As the 2015 TI Source document points out:

“The Bertelsmann Stiftung was founded in 1977 as a private foundation…The Bertelsmann Stiftung is independent and nonpartisan. It designs, launches and runs its own projects.

Infographic of the Sustainable Governance Indicators
for New Zealand in 2015

The Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGI) examine governance and policymaking in all OECD and EU member states in order to evaluate each country's need for, and ability to carry out, reform.

The indicators are calculated using quantitative data from international organisations and then supplemented by qualitative assessments from recognised country experts.

Corruption question

Experts are asked to assess:

“To what extent are public officeholders prevented from abusing their position for private interests?”

This question addresses how the state and society prevent public servants and politicians from accepting bribes by applying mechanisms to guarantee the integrity of officeholders: auditing of state spending; regulation of party financing; citizen and media access to information; accountability of officeholders (asset declarations, conflict of interest rules, codes of conduct); transparent public procurement systems; effective prosecution of corruption.

Scores are given from:

  • a low of 1 to 2, where 'Public officeholders can exploit their offices for private gain as they see fit without fear of legal consequences or adverse publicity'
  • to a high of 9 to 10, where 'Legal, political and public integrity mechanisms effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.'”

Based on the Bertelsmann SGI analysis, New Zealand's score remains above average across the SGI indicators. In several areas, however, there is room for improvement. These are access to information (7.3 out of 10), , electoral processes (8.4 out of 10) and quality of democracy (8.6 out of 10). New Zealand is particularly strong in civil rights and political liberties (9.0 out of 10) and rule of law (9.5 out of 10).

For environmental policies, New Zealand falls in the lower middle ranks at 26 out of 41 with a score of 5.7 out of 10, unchanged since 2014. On the one hand, government policy around emissions and water quality has been shaped by agricultural industry pressure while on the other hand all recent governments have been active in protecting biodiversity. New Zealand's reputation as a fair and equal society is also under pressure with a score of 7.3 out of 10 where its high levels of educational attainment and strong health systems are pulled down by high levels of income inequality.

Corruption in the Asia Pacific area

As Srirak Plipat, Transparency International Director for Asia Pacific, noted in the TI-CPI report, "If there was one common challenge to unite the Asia Pacific region, it would be corruption. From campaign pledges to media coverage to civil society forums, corruption dominates discussion. Yet despite all this talk, there’s little sign of action. Between Australia’s slipping scores and North Korea’s predictably disastrous performance, this year’s index shows no significant improvement. Has Asia Pacific stalled in its efforts to fight corruption?"

  • According to the index, Australia’s ranking fell from 11th to 13th with a score of 79.
  • Papua New Guinea ranked 139 with a score of 25
  • Other Pacific countries such as Samoa, Fiji, Solomons, Tonga and Vanuatu are regarded as having too little information to be included in the index.


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