Announcement: PAR Blog Symposium on “Corruption and Anti-Corruption in the 21st Century”

Here at GAB we’re always thrilled to see more useful discussion of corruption-related issues in the blogosphere. I’m therefore delighted to announce that the Public Administration Review is organizing a special “blog symposium” on “Corruption and Anti-Corruption in the 21st Century,” and is soliciting contributions from anticorruption experts. The symposium editors, Liz David-Barrett and Paul Heywood, provide the following overview of the symposium theme and the sorts of contributions they’re looking for:

It is a quarter of a century since the launch of the global anti-corruption NGO, Transparency International. In those 25 years, corruption has become a major focus of academic research, while seeking to curb corruption has become a core preoccupation of ever more international organisations, national governments, dedicated agencies and civil society groups, as well as an issue with which the private sector increasingly engages.

Yet many question what has really been achieved and bemoan our seeming inability to distill research and experience into effective lessons for action. Scholars and practitioners alike complain that they lack channels through which to share ideas and learning, and that all too often their respective agendas and insights fail to connect. And many international organisations, including the World Bank, IMF and OECD, are reassessing their approaches. This blog symposium seeks to develop an open and engaged dialogue to facilitate learning.

We invite scholars and practitioners to contribute posts on the topic of Corruption and Anti-Corruption in the 21st Century, which:

  • Showcase new approaches to understanding and tackling corruption.

  • Share learning about how change can be encouraged, achieved and sustained.

  • Exchange ideas on how to evaluate the impact of anti-corruption interventions.

Those interested in contributing should submit a proposal/abstract by midnight GMT on April 27th (two weeks from today); the proposal should not exceed 150 words, and should outline the main argument and examples to be discussed. The submission should also include a brief bio of the author(s), not to exceed 100 words. Please send your proposal by email to e.david-barrett@sussex.ac.uk and Paul.Heywood@nottingham.ac.uk, and mark the subject line “Blog Symposium Proposal.” The editors will invite 20 authors (or author teams) to contribute, and will notify the selected authors on May 11th. Invited authors should submit their completed blog posts (1200 words max) by June 1st, and shortly thereafter the blog posts will then be published in an online symposium hosted by the Public Administration Review.

Here at GAB, we look forward to reading (and perhaps responding to) what we’re sure will be a set of insightful and provocative contributions in this symposium.

Guest Post: Turning Big Data Into a Useful Anticorruption Tool in Africa

GAB is delighted to welcome back Dr. Elizabeth Dávid-Barrett of the University of Sussex, who contributes today’s guest post:

Many anticorruption advocates are excited about the prospects that “big data” will help detect and deter graft and other forms of malfeasance. As part of a project in this vein, titled Curbing Corruption in Development Aid-Funded Procurement, Mihály Fazekas, Olli Hellmann, and I have collected contract-level data on how aid money from three major donors is spent through national procurement systems; our dataset comprises more than half a million contracts and stretching back almost 20 years. But good data alone isn’t enough. To be useful, there must be a group of interested and informed users, who have both the tools and the skills to analyse the data to uncover misconduct, and then lobby governments and donors to listen to and act on the findings. The analysis of big datasets to find evidence of corruption – for example, the method developed by Mihály Fazekas to identify “red flags” of corruption risks in procurement contract data—requires statistical skills and software, both of which are in short supply in many parts of the developing world, such as sub-Saharan Africa.

Yet some ambitious recent initiatives are trying to address this problem. Lately I’ve had the privilege to be involved in one such initiative, led by Oxford mathematician Balázs Szendrői, that helps empower a group of young African mathematicians to analyse “big data” on public corruption. Continue reading