False dawn, window dressing or taking integrity to the next level? Governments using ICTs for integrity and accountability

This article explores the challenges of fighting corruption and presents some ideas on how to start addressing them through the use of ICT. Section 1 sets the scene by providing a brief overview of how pervasive, serious and difficult to fix the problem of corruption is. Section 2 gives a sense of the very exuberant hopes and expectations that ride on new information and communication technologies to evolve into a game-changer in the fight against corruption. Chapter 3 describes the immense scale and scope of governmental ambitions to deploy ICTs for deep reforms of political and administrative systems. It then zooms in on four concrete application areas where corruption risks are particularly rife and detrimental and where governments are particularly focused on deploying ICT solutions with the express (although not exclusive) aim to tackle corruption. These four areas are electronic reforms in public procurement, judicial case management, tax administration and ID card systems. For each of these areas, examples of technology applications, a first overview of the empirical evidence base on impact and the status of related advocacy and monitoring by civil society are discussed. This section also summarises this first scan of evidence and engagement, arriving at a mixed picture. Some early positive evidence confirms a beneficial potential, yet other studies and lessons from technology adoption more broadly point to high risks of failure or inefficacy.

Dieter Zinnbauer
© Transparency International, 2012