New Podcast Episode, Featuring Paul Lagunes

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. This week’s episode features an interview with Paul Lagunes, Assistant Professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. In the interview, Paul and I discuss his forthcoming book, The Watchful Eye and the Cracking Whip: Experiments on Corruption and Inefficiency in the Americas, as well as the implications of recent political developments in Mexico, Brazil, and elsewhere in the Americas for the struggle against corruption.

You can find this episode, along with links to previous podcast episodes, at the following locations:

KickBack is a collaborative effort between GAB and the ICRN. If you like it, please subscribe/follow, and tell all your friends! And if you have suggestions for voices you’d like to hear on the podcast, just send me a message and let me know.

Video: Baker Center Conference on Controlling Corruption in Latin America

A few weeks back I was lucky enough to attend a mini-conference hosted by Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy entitled “A Worthy Mission: Controlling Corruption in Latin America.” The conference featured an opening keynote address by Yale Professor Susan Rose-Ackerman, with a brief response by BYU Professor Daniel Nielson, followed by two panels. The first of these panels (which I moderated) focused on anticorruption prosecutions in Latin America generally, and featured Thelma Aldana (who served as Attorney General of Guatemala from 2014-2018, and is rumored to be a likely presidential candidate), Paolo Roberto Galvao de Carvalho (a Brazilian Federal Prosecutor and member of the “Car Wash” anticorruption Task Force), and George Mason University Professor Louise Shelley. The second panel, moderated by Columbia Professor Paul Lagunes, focused more specifically on corruption control in Mexico, and featured Professor Jacqueline Peschard (former chair of Mexico’s National Anticorruption System), Claudio X. Gonzalez (the president of the civil society organization Mexicanos Contra la Corrupcion y la Impunidad (MCCI)), and Mariana Campos (the Program Director at another Mexican civil society organization, Mexico Evalua).

Video recordings of the conference are publicly available, so I’m going to follow my past practice of sharing the links, along with a very brief guide (with time stamps) in case anyone is particularly interested in one or more particular speakers or subjects but doesn’t have time to watch the whole thing. Here goes: Continue reading

Announcement: New Edited Volume on “Greed, Corruption and the Modern State”

Please forgive the self-promotion, but some of our readers out there might be interested in the new volume, Greed, Corruption and the Modern State, co-edited by Susan Rose-Ackerman and Paul Lagunes. (I said it’s self-promotion because I have a chapter in the book on the relationship between democratic electoral institutions and corruption.) The publisher’s information page is here, and the online e-book can be found here. Just to save interested readers a bit of time, I’ll list here the contents, with direct links to PDFs of the chapters:

Guest Post: Monitoring as a Democratic Imperative

Professor Paul Lagunes of the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs contributes the following guest post:

The fact the bureaucrats who populate the ranks of the public administration do not run for office poses a significant challenge to electoral democracy—a challenge that is accentuated by citizens’ inability to properly monitor their own government. Citizens, after all, dedicate a majority of their time to private affairs and are often confused, if not repelled, by the complexities of public administration. Given this principal-agent problem, what can be done to improve monitoring, fight corruption, and hold governments accountable?

I recently had the opportunity to evaluate the efficacy of anticorruption monitoring in Mexico. This research indicates that independent audits over sensitive governmental processes can boost the levels of discipline, stringency, and honesty among civil servants. Indeed, even when communities find it difficult to overhaul their governing institutions and renew and professionalize their bureaucracies, they can rely on independent experts to raise bureaucrats’ level of accountability. But the improved monitoring associated with independent audits is only when accompanied by robust oversight and accountability. Continue reading