Announcement: Transparency International Seeking External Experts for Its Helpdesk

Transparency International (TI), as many readers of this blog may already be aware, runs a very useful “Anti-Corruption Helpdesk” service, which produces 10-12 page topic briefs in response to inquiries from members of the TI network and certain other stakeholders, and publishes those briefs on its website for anyone to download. The briefs are typically completed within 10 working days of the receipt of the inquiry.

TI is currently seeking external experts to assist in the preparation of Helpdesk briefs. The details of the consultancy (including responsibilities, necessary qualifications, remuneration) can be found here. This may be an especially exciting opportunity for young (and somewhat-less-young) professors and advanced graduate students. However, please note that the deadline for applications is the end of next week (January 25), and the application requires the completion of a writing assignment (which TI says shouldn’t take more than three hours, though I think doing it well may take somewhat longer). So, if this is of interest to you, I encourage you to check out the link above, download the relevant materials, and start work on your application now!

Tracking Corruption and Conflicts of Interest in the Trump Administration–January 2019 Update

Since May 2017, GAB has been tracking credible allegations that President Trump, as well as his family members and close associates, are seeking to use the presidency to advance their personal financial interests, and providing monthly updates on media reports of such issues. The January 2019 update is now available here. There are a number of important (and disturbing) additions to this month’s update. Most notably:

  • Federal prosecutors are now investigating a range of possible legal violations related to Trump’s inauguration committee, which raised a record amount ($107 million) for President Trump’s inauguration. According to reports, there is evidence that much of this money was raised from questionable sources, and that much of it was spent in ways that brought windfall profits to the Trump Organization–in violation of various federal laws. In particular, on the fundraising side, it seems that both domestic and foreign interests donated heavily to the inaugural committee with the apparent intent of influencing US policy. And on the spending side, the inauguration committee spent heavily at Trump Organization properties, apparently at above-market rates. Though the investigation is ongoing, there’s at least suggestive evidence that the inauguration committee might have been a surreptitious way for interest groups and foreign governments to funnel money directly to the Trump family.
  • Previous editions of this tracking project have noted concerns about the Trump Organization’s past and current business dealings in the Dominican Republic. A recent Global Witness report suggests that although the Trump Organization claims that its current business in the Dominican Republic is a continuation of an older deal that started before Trump took office, in fact the Trump Organization and its local partner are pursuing an entirely new development project, in clear violation of President Trump’s pledge that the Trump Organization would not pursue any “new foreign deals” during his presidency.
  • Jared Kushner and his family stand to benefit personally from a federal program–the “Opportunity Zone” program–that offers large tax breaks to developers who invest in low-income neighborhoods. This program was heavily promoted by Ivanka Trump, Kushner’s wife, and though neither of them will play a direct formal role in determining which neighborhoods will be designated “opportunity zones” eligible for tax credits, there is an obvious conflict of interest concern, especially since the Kushner family owns multiple properties in areas that have already been designated as opportunity zones–including neighborhoods that are actually quite affluent.

As always, we note that while we try to include only those allegations that appear credible, we acknowledge that many of the allegations that we discuss are speculative and/or contested. We also do not attempt a full analysis of the laws and regulations that may or may not have been broken if the allegations are true. For an overview of some of the relevant federal laws and regulations that might apply to some of the alleged problematic conduct, see here.

Announcement: Two Great Anticorruption Conference Opportunities for New(ish) Scholars

Happy New Year, GAB readers! As you all start planning your 2019 professional calendars, I wanted to take this opportunity to alert you–especially those among you who are academics (or professional researchers more generally)–to two exciting conferences this coming June 2019, for which the call for papers recently went out:

  • First, the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM) will be holding its second annual Academia Against Corruption in the Americas (ACA) conference on June 7-8 in Monterrey, Mexico. Organized Professor (and occasional GAB contributor) Bonnie Palifka, the ACA conference has three main goals: (1) to enrich and promote multidisciplinary research on corruption and anticorruption in the Americas; (2) to promote the inclusion of courses or subtopics on corruption in university curricula; and (3) to form a research and teaching network on corruption in the Americas.The ACA Conference invites professors and researchers from all disciplines to submit papers on any corruption or anticorruption topic, with a preference for those studying corruption or anticorruption in any part of the Americas. Additionally, professors who would like to participate in the special sessions on teaching and curriculum may submit syllabi, teaching notes, and/or a PowerPoint presentation relating the presenter’s experience teaching anticorruption. Submissions (which may be in English, Spanish, French, or Portuguese) may be emailed to Professor Palifka at bonnie@tec.mx. Submissions are due on February 1, 2019, and decisions will be announced on March 15, 2019.
  • Second, the Interdisciplinary Corruption Research Network (ICRN), a consortium of terrific young academic researchers, will be holding their Fourth Interdisciplinary Corruption Research Forum in Kyiv, Ukraine (at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla) on June 13-15. The Forum aims to bring together international junior researchers, as well as practitioners working in the fields of corruption and anticorruption, to present their work. Junior researchers (including PhD, post-doc, and advanced Master’s level students) from all disciplines are eligible to submit papers, as are practitioners. Papers can be submitted through the online platform., and if you have questions you can contact the organizational committee at info@icrnetwork.org. Applications for the ICRN conference area also due on February 15, and decisions will be made in early March.

By the way, in the interests of full disclosure, I’m on the ICRN’s advisory board and attended their second Fourm a couple of years ago; I also delivered a keynote address at the first ACA Conference last year. I think highly of the organizers of both conferences and expect that they will put together a very strong program, so I encourage eligible researchers to apply!

Anticorruption Bibliography–December 2018 Update

An updated version of my anticorruption bibliography is available from my faculty webpage. A direct link to the pdf of the full bibliography is here, and a list of the new sources added in this update is here. As always, I welcome suggestions for other sources that are not yet included, including any papers GAB readers have written.

Video: “The Global Fight Against Corruption: What We’ve Learned and Where We’re Going”

One year ago (in December 2017) I was invited to give a talk at the University of Indonesia on “The Global Fight Against Corruption: What We’ve Learned and Where We’re Going.” I recently learned that the video of the lecture and the Q&A that followed it is up on YouTube here. Because this lecture was a variant on a “stump speech” that I’ve given to various audiences—a talk that tries to hit on some big-picture themes about the fight against corruption that I think are important—I thought that perhaps some of our readers out there might find some or all of the video useful. (I hope this doesn’t come off too much as shameless self-promotion!) For what it’s worth, here are a few of the topics/themes that came up in the talk, with associated time markers for the video: Continue reading

Tracking Corruption and Conflicts of Interest in the Trump Administration–December 2018 Update

Since May 2017, GAB has been tracking credible allegations that President Trump, as well as his family members and close associates, are seeking to use the presidency to advance their personal financial interests, and providing monthly updates on media reports of such issues. The December 2018 update is now available here.

As always, we note that while we try to include only those allegations that appear credible, we acknowledge that many of the allegations that we discuss are speculative and/or contested. We also do not attempt a full analysis of the laws and regulations that may or may not have been broken if the allegations are true. For an overview of some of the relevant federal laws and regulations that might apply to some of the alleged problematic conduct, see here.

An Interesting Collection of Corruption Posts at the Public Administration Review’s Blog Symposium–Worth a Look!

The Public Administration Review recently published a blog symposium on corruption, edited by Liz David-Barrett and Paul Heywood. (As some readers might recall, GAB published the announcement and call for submissions last April.) The broad-ranging symposium includes an impressive lineup of contributors and a diverse set of topics–and in keeping with blogging norms, the pieces are short and to the point, and often provocative. Worth checking out. You can find the full table of contents at the link in the first line of this post, but I’ll also copy it below so readers can jump directly to posts that look particularly interesting:

Corruption: A Bully Pulpit Symposium

Introduction

  1. Why re-think anti-corruption? An introduction to the symposium, Elizabeth Dávid-Barrett and Paul M. Heywood

A systems approach to corruption

  1. Learning to understand corruption as a systemic problem, Johannes Tonn
  2. Eradicating Corruption: You Can’t Just Pin Your Hopes on Democracy, Elisabeth Kramer
  3. Informal networks: the invisible drivers of corruption and implications for anti-corruption practice, Claudia Baez-Camargo, Saba Kassa and Cosimo Stahl
  4. What ‘hidden’ success stories tell us about anti-corruption policy and practice, Heather Marquette and Caryn Peiffer
  5. Pressure to change: a new donor approach to anti-corruption? Phil Mason

Broadening the definition of corruption

  1. Fighting corruption through strengthening financial integrity: Reflections on Pakistan’s experience, Tom Keatinge and Anton Moiseienko
  2. Add women and stir? Exploring the gendered dimension of corruption, Rrita Ismajli and Miranda Loli

Moving away from compliance-based, regulatory approaches to anti-corruption

  1. Fighting Corruption with Insights from Behavioral Science, Johann Graf Lambsdorff
  2. Focusing efforts and blurring lines: the OECD’s shift from ethics to integrity, Sofia Wickberg
  3. Rethinking corruption risk management for global health programmes: from compliance-based approaches to informed programme design, Sebastian Bauhoff, Sarah Steingrüber and Aneta Wierzynska
  4. Interpreting anti-corruption within a public ethics of accountability, Emanuela Ceva and Maria Paola Ferretti
  5. Using a social norms approach to tackle corruption in Nigeria, Abdulkareem Lawal

New roles for the private sector in tackling bribery and corruption

  1. Market for Bundles: A New Stage of Foreign Anti-Bribery Enforcement, Branislav Hock
  2. Towards a system of compensation for the victims of foreign corruption, Friederycke Haijer
  3. Public/private partnerships – an opportunity or risk for anti-corruption? Nick J Maxwell
  4. Communicating with SMEs on anti-corruption, Brook Horowitz and Jan Dauman
  5. Charting a New Path of Anti-Corruption in Africa: Bringing the Private Sector in from the Cold, Tahiru Azaaviele Liedong

Engaging more local and community partners in anti-corruption

  1. “Bottom Up” Corruption Prevention, Jennifer Widner and Tristan Dreisbach
  2. Look beyond the nation-state: Local-level success stories may reflect different power dynamics, Tom Shipley
  3. Nuevo Leon’s Anticorruption System: Taking Stock of an Ongoing Experiment in Fighting Corruption at the Local Level, Bonnie J. Palifka, Luis A. García and Beatríz Camacho
  4. Can Customary Authority Reduce Risks of Corruption and Local Capture? David Jackson and Jennifer Murtazashvili
  5. Every Penny Counts: Exploring Initial Strategies for Successful Open Contracting Initiatives in Challenging Environments, Tom Wright, Eliza Hovey and Sarah Steingruber
  6. Empowering Agents of Change, Phil Nichols