In this lesson, we will look at mechanisms in detecting corruption.
Methods in detecting corruption in the public sector include (1) auditing and (2) reporting.
An audit is a formal investigation of an organization’s or individual’s accounts or financial situation”. Audits can be internal, meaning that they are conducted by the organization itself, or external, which means they are conducted by another outside independent entity.
Internal audits review items such as the effectiveness of an organization’s safeguards against fraud and corruption, whereas external audits often focus on an organization’s financial statements and whether that organization has followed all relevant laws and regulations. Internal audits offer the management of an organization a snapshot of how policies and procedures are functioning, while external audits give a broader view and are often public. In many countries, the role of an external auditor of public institutions is assigned to an independent governmental body.
Reports of corruption can come from people who have been involved in the corruption, citizens who serve as watchdogs, and media that work in monitoring government transactions.
Self-Reporting. Some countries have laws and incentives that encourage individuals to report on corruption in which they played a role. This process, known as self-reporting. Punishment for corruption can be severe, and therefore lowering penalty and in other cases, immunity are common incentives to encourage self-reporting.
Citizens Reporting. Citizens are often the first ones to witness or experience corruption, especially when availing public services. They can help expose corruption by reporting their grievances and feedback to authorities who can investigate and sanction offenders. In encouraging citizen reporting, many governments have established hotlines where people can directly file their complaints anonymously. Technology has also played an important role as people posting their experiences on social media as a means of reporting has forced involved agencies to act faster on them and expanded awareness on the need to hold government employees and public officials accountable.
Media Reporting. Media reporting can also be a means of detecting corruption as reports prompt law enforcement agencies to conduct investigations into allegations of corruption. Journalists also offer gathering more information about cases of corruption through their work. In order to play an effective role however, members of the media have to be free, independent and responsible. Reports should be prepared in accordance with high professional and ethical standards. Freedom and access to information laws are useful tools that journalists and the media can use to assist in detecting corruption.