Guest Post: The U4 Proxy Challenge and the Search for New Corruption Indicators

Osmund Grøholt, a research assistant at the Chr. Michelsen Institute and the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, contributes the following guest post:

One of the major challenges that the development community faces in promoting effective anticorruption reform efforts is the difficulty of measuring progress. This challenge has become all the more pressing in light of the explicit inclusion of anticorruption targets as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Unfortunately, many of the most widely-used national-level corruption perception indexes, such as the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index and the Worldwide Governance Indicators control-of-corruption index, are not suitable proxies for measuring anticorruption reform effectiveness.

To help address this challenge, the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre is announcing its second “Proxy Challenge Competition.” The Proxy Challenge Competition invites researchers and practitioners to submit proposals for indicators that can help show the direction of change and the progress of reform efforts, rather than measuring the quantity or volume of corruption per se. Ideally, the proxy indicators should be reliable, intuitive, accessible, and cost-effective.

The proposed proxies will be evaluated by a panel of experienced anticorruption practitioners and academics, and the individuals who submit the two best submissions will be invited to present their proposed proxies at a special session at the International Anti-Corruption Conference in Panama (Dec. 1st-4th, 2016), with travel, hotel, and conference registration expenses covered. In addition, the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) will work with the proposal authors to test the relevance and the validity of the proposed indicators, including financial support for a policy paper on the proposed proxy indicators and, if appropriate, developing a plan for testing the proxy indicator for actual reporting in selected countries.

Proposals of no more than 700 words should be submitted to by September 1st, 2016. The submissions should:

  • Clearly define the proposed proxy indicator, and explain why and how this indicator reflects changes in corrupt behavior;
  • Explain how the indicator can be combined with other indicators to obtain a better measurement of overall anticorruption progress, including how the proxy indicator would be useful for different agents (e.g., aid agencies, governments, civil society) for purposes of monitoring and reporting;
  • Comment on the strengths and weaknesses of the proxy indicator, including how they differ with shifting national contexts.
  • Present ideas for how to test the validity of the proxy indicator.

More information on the Proxy Challenge Competition, including a complete list of requirements, can be found here. Additional background reading, including material from the first Proxy Challenge Competition (held in 2013-2014) can be found here and here.

We look forward to your submissions!

4 thoughts on “Guest Post: The U4 Proxy Challenge and the Search for New Corruption Indicators

  1. The undersigned is not much informed of this “Proxy Challenge” or “Proxy Indicators” of Anti-corruption. I am keenly trying to understand the actual mode of corruption in regional, national or international area and what is the healing process of this very basic disease of capitalistic progress of world economy. I am sharing with the ideas of global community and writing articles and papers to international platforms.

    After this blog-reading, I am not clear- what do you want as ‘Indicator’ in 700 words and an individual can submit how many report on different aspect of corruption of ‘actual reporting in selected countries’. And also, why it is ‘Proxy’ or ‘non-Proxy’ criteria.

    Please help me with few lines of your idea actual.


    -Dr. Sushanta Kumar Bhowmik


  2. Thank you, I appreciate the comment, Dr. Sushanta Kumar Bhowmik.

    I think we all agree that corruption and anti-corruption efforts are challenging to measure, which is why we see a pressing need for new and innovative proxy indicators. While non-proxy indicators measure corruption directly, proxy indicators measure effects of anti-corruption efforts indirectly through factors that suggest increase/decrease of corruption. In 2014, we arranged the first Proxy Challenge, which resulted in three very interesting U4 Briefs. These are examples of what proxy indicators might be and what they can do. See the links below:

    I hope this was clarifying.

    Osmund Grøholt

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