5 May 2011

Global Integrity has published its 2010 Report. Although New Zealand has never been part of these assessments, the latest report covers developed countries with sound practices with which New Zealanders like to compare themselves, such as Canada.  Dozens of the world’s developing nations, many shown to have poor governance, are also  included.

Unlike the Transparency International measure of corruption perceptions, the report uses 300 “integrity indicators” to assess mechanisms that prevent corruption.  Where there are fewer safeguards, corruption is more likely to occur.

The data has been collated in numerous ways.  Of particular interest is the comparison of public sector administrations.  “Professionalism of a country’s civil service is an under appreciated but important component of promoting a culture of transparency and accountability. Citizens’ ability to expect fair treatment at the hands of bureaucrats without having to pay bribes is an essential step towards curbing corruption and abuse of power.”

The report on Canada is interesting as ethical incidents helped precipitate this week’s general election. The survey found that Canada was not without anti-corruption challenges. Timeliness and quality of responses hinder the accessibility of official information. The report criticises the low asset disclosure expectations of senior civil servants – in contrast to many countries which make the information freely available to the public. Contrastingly, New Zealand has no asset disclosure regime and has a curtailed declaration of officials expenses, gifts, hospitality and entertainment compared with Canada’s thorough reporting.

Global Integrity rates Canada’s public integrity and anti-corruption system as relatively robust. It finds that the media is able to freely report on corruption cases, and the integrity of elections is rarely questioned. Their Inland Revenue and Customs are professional and independent, and the justice sector is seen to be independent and effective despite the high costs of bringing cases to court and the executive’s control over judicial appointments.

It would be interesting to see the findings if the Global Integrity measure were to be put over New Zealand. (Australia was surveyed in 2004).