Type III errors: a reflection of policy design efforts in corruption prevention

SOURCE: Administratio Publica
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
TITLE AUTHOR(S): W.N.Webb, M.Kanyane
DEPARTMENT: Developmental, Capable and Ethical State (DCES)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 11087
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/15041
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11910/15041

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The basis for many anti-corruption policy interventions in developing states may be traced back to the implementation of National Integrity Systems (NIS). National integrity systems embody a comprehensive view of reform and comprise of eight pillars inter alia public sector anti-corruption strategies, watchdog agencies, public participation in the democratic process, public awareness of the role of civil society, accountability in the judicial process, the media, the private sector and international co-operation. However, in efforts to implement these policy initiatives the public service is at risk of addressing the symptoms of corrupt behaviour in the public and private sector, rather than the root cause. Corruption prevention with added rules and regulations causes a loss in effectiveness and efficiency, and often produces more opportunities for corruption (Anechiarico & Jacobs 1995). Public policy compliance and top-down policy design are common features in the South African public service. Senior public officials are often found working frantically in pursuit of satisfying the wishes of their political office-bearer or avoiding the adverse attention of the Auditor-General seeking to uncover cases of either public service behaviour not complying with its own policy directives, or engaging in activities outside the purview of legitimised executive and administrative policy. After all, the committees of the legislature are quick to pounce on senior officials who are subject to an adverse audit opinion or a disclaimer from the Office of the AuditorGeneral. However, these top-down policy design and implementation habits weaken the success of our anti-corruption efforts. The causal factors of corruption are not attended to. Corruption is the symptom of public officials who are greedy and/or citizens who pursue their own selfish interests at the expense of the greater weal. It is here where policy attention should be directed. Evidence in the literature abounds that the solutions to public service corruption are not found in a myriad of public policy interventions and compliance with them, but rather focusing on the cause-effect linkages. According to Stapenhurst and Langseth (1997) corruption is caused by inter alia economic and psycho-social factors, but more specifically organisational factors, such as, excessive discretion, outdated and inadequate policies and procedures and insufficient supervision, complex legislation, lack of an ethical awareness campaigns, and deficient control and accountability. Klitgaard et al. (2000: 3136) identifies key objectives of a strategy against corruption: reduce the monopoly power of an official, limit or clarify official discretion and increase accountability. Rose-Ackerman (1999) remarks that, changing the way government does business, and not only establishing integrity systems, should be the objective in combating and preventing corruption. The emphasis should not be on less discretion, imposing rule bound systems, and ex post facto control. Rather, the objective should be to reform the public service and change its rules and policies to reward good performance. The South African anti-corruption policy framework is testimony to the countrys resolve to reduce incidents of malfeasance, but perhaps its focus should be directed to its causal factors. In this article, the authors reflect on the policy conceptualisation, design, and problem solving efforts of our anti-corruption champions in the public service. The authors used a theoretical and exploratory approach and cited baseline data and anecdotal evidence to substantiate their propositions.