February Leaders Integrity Forum discusses CPI

In mid-February TINZ focussed its Public Sector Leaders Integrity forum on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).  This is a measure of corruption that is highly relied upon across the world and for which New Zealand’s ranking and score have both slipped.

A J Brown
A J Brown

The key speaker at the online forum was A J Brown, Professor of Public Policy and Law in the School of Government & International Relations, Griffith University.  A J is a 30 year veteran of developments in public integrity systems, and is well known to the TI movement. He is currently Chair of Transparency International Australia, and served on the TI global board from 2017-2023. 

A J offered comparisons with Australia’s score in the CPI which has dropped more markedly over time, and gave his opinion on contributing reasons for this and for New Zealand’s steady decline. He speculated that business people and country experts in those countries with lower corruption may have higher expectations, having improved their understanding of the value of integrity - they are not fooled by silver bullets.  A J also noted that corruption is increasingly transnational, and so complacency at a local level is dangerous.  And that whilst sliding back is not unusual in the long term, climbing back up takes much longer, as trust can be quickly lost and slow to regain.

AJ cited three areas where "small" democracies need to focus to maintain public trust:

  • challenging issues surrounding undue pressure on decision makers e.g. through lobbying. 
  • building political integrity and transparency - probity around political donations and caps on them.
  • 100% confidence that everything is being done regarding the international flows of corruption.

A J challenged an assumption that transparency and good safeguards add to bureaucracy and slow down action.  His reasoning is that:

  • Well resourced governments have no excuse for paralysis
  • The risks of corruption increase when focus on the front line removes resources from the back office.
  • The challenge lies in confident decision making (lack of confidence or heightened risk aversion can lead to paralysis)

He reflected on elements that underpin countries in the top third of the Index, including maintenance of the rule of law; low levels of war/conflict, stable democracy; comprehensive integrity systems; independent judiciary; independent media and civil society that can call power to account.  We take these for granted at our peril.   

A J highlighted countries that had improved markedly in their CPI score over time, such as some of the ex-Soviet states in Europe like Uzbekistan and Ukraine, and other countries such as Tanzania and Kuwait and the Maldives.  Whilst all of these countries face significant ongoing challenges, the leaders have also demonstrated a desire to reveal and curb corruption, which boosts business confidence.  

(scroll down for videos)

Check out this video of A J following the Leaders Integrity Forum: https://youtu.be/OLNEpj9SIX4

Check out this video which offers a good explainer about the Corruption Perceptions Index:

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