Developing a Strategic Implementation Plan for Anti-Corruption

Developing a Strategic Implementation Plan for Anti-Corruption
Preparing Afghanistan for Anti-Corruption Reform
By Jeffrey J. Coonjohn with Dr. Azizallah Lodin

Anti-corruption is a social science in the tradition of psychology, law or criminology. Common sense, good judgment and a keen mind are not enough to successfully engage the battle against corruption. There is a science to combating corruption, just like there is a science to practicing law or being a psychologist. Unfortunately, politicians, commanders and community leaders do not often understand that there is a logical and scientific method to combating corruption. Consequently, anti-corruption programs have been headed by doctors, investigators, and even pilots. Most commonly, leaders will turn to the legal community to engage the battle against corruption (the logic being that corruption is a violation of law). While some of these programs have been successful, a vast majority of them have failed. The primary cause of the failure has been a combination of two factors: a lack of knowledge of the systems and approaches to anti- corruption and lack of political will. In essence, anti-corruption initiatives will be as successful and effective as top government leaders want them to be. However, even where there is a lack of political will, an anti-corruption expert can successfully develop the institutions so that the tools and information are available to future leaders.

Common Anti-Corruption Approaches and the Whac-a-Mole ®

It is not uncommon for untrained leaders of anti-corruption programs to apply deductive reasoning to observed manifestations of corruption. Thus, they develop initiatives targeting the observed corruption. Depending upon how well the initiative is implemented, it can be quite successful in reducing or eliminating the observed corruption. However, almost simultaneous with the cessation of the old corruption, a new manifestation of corruption will be observed.

Unfortunately, the untrained leader will gain confidence from his last ―success‖ and will develop a new initiative targeting this newly observed manifestation of corruption. Assuming he is successful, the cycle will start again and will continue ad infinitum. This Whac-a-Mole approach does not arrest corruption at its roots, but provides the illusion of success based upon a series of successful initiatives4. For example, in post-war Afghanistan vehicle registration was fraught with corruption. Consequently, to remove cash payments from the registration process, a new system was developed to have funds deposited directly to the bank so that government officials did not actually accept or receive funds. This was touted as a great success. However, almost immediately, a new problem arose. Bank tellers began demanding payments to make the deposit and provide a copy of the deposit slip. As one mole was pushed into its hole, another emerged.

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