25 November 2011

Transparency NZ had its annual general meeting last night, followed by two presentations; on the integrity challenges facing a New Zealand company developing a joint venture business in China, and a research report on the composition of the New Zealand Corruption Perceptions Index data and the way that Index is used by the media and government.

The 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index will be launched in Berlin on 1 December. There was no awareness shown by any attending the TINZ AGM of imminent changes to the Index. Although recognising that the Index relates to perception, reflects corruption in the public sector only and has some questionable statistical components, there was no certainty about how this year’s evaluation will affect New Zealand’s place. Ranked least corrupt for several years, and never having slipped below 4th place since the Index began in 1995, the jingoistic hope is that New Zealand retains its place.

This aspiration is shared by the State Services Commissioner. The Commission’s 2011 2013 Statement of Intent sets out an objective, that the State Services are trusted by the public. The measure set by the Commissioner is that on average over the next five years New Zealand will be ranked among the top 3 countries on the CPI.

“By independent assessment, New Zealand has one of the most corruption-free public sectors in the world. Launched in 1995 and run annually, Transparency International’s 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index is an aggregate indicator that ranks nearly 200 countries by their perceived levels of corruption and is based on the results of surveys by ten independent institutions that measure the extent of corruption in the public and political sectors. The State Services Commission will be using New Zealand’s ranking in the index as a means of tracking the State sector’s collective level of trustworthiness and the effectiveness of our own Integrity and Conduct work programme.”

The Auditor General in her Statement of Intent for 2011 – 2013 uses the CPI as a measure of the Trusted public sector, specifying that “New Zealand’s score on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index is maintained or improved.”

The Auditor General (who attended the TI AGM) recently published the results of a survey on fraud awareness, prevention, and detection in New Zealand’s public sector as part of her agency’s focus on fraud prevention. On the State Services Commission website, only three of 449 word search references to Transparency International relate to matters added to the site in the last 12 months (linking to the Annual Report and the Statement of Intent.)