New Perspectives on E-Government and Corruption

The Basel Institute on Governance is pleased to share its release of Working Paper 23: New Perspectives in E-Government and the Prevention of Corruption. This report reveals the results of an anonymous web survey exploring private sector use of e-government and effectiveness of such digital tools in preventing bribery and corruption.  The report concludes that e-government can reduce corruption but needs greater engagement by governments and companies alike in order to be more effective.  It offers recommendations to both sectors as well as a research agenda to better understand the link between e-government and corruption prevention.

E-government generally refers to the use of information and communication technologies to transform relations between citizens, businesses and various branches of government. This includes e-procurement and e-customs to e-tax filing, e-sourcing and beyond. By reducing personal contact between companies and government officials, the scope for arbitrary decision-making, bureaucratic delays and the attendant opportunities for bribery are theoretically diminished.

The Basel Institute Working Paper tests the premise that increased public sector transparency improves trust in government, reduces corruption, improves the conditions for businesses to flourish and contributes to the conditions that encourage foreign investment.  The report addresses these issues from a private sector perspective, primarily for private sector actors interested in a more comprehensive understanding of the scope and examples of e-government solutions to improve their anti-corruption policies.

The anonymous web survey findings showed that in general terms, private sector actors are motivated to use e-government tools equally for the purposes of reducing the time it takes to complete a transaction as for the goal of reducing bribery risks. However, an examination of the use of e-tools in specific sectors yields more diverse and revealing results.   For example, respondents most frequently used e-government tools in the fields of e-procurement and e-tax, though primarily motivated by the purpose of reducing bureaucracy in those processes.  By contrast, respondents used e-government tools in the fields of e-customs and e-sourcing less frequently, but were more motivated to do so with the goal of reducing corruption than in other areas.  Further research into the results revealed in this survey could yield targeted action plans for the private sector in particular countries and sectors as they develop their e-government strategies.

For further information on the report, its survey findings and recommendations in full download it here.