Over $1 trillion per year is lost to corrupt politicians and others. That amount of corruption affects us all. Why don't we crowdsource to publish the names of government bribe takers? It won't cost taxpayers.
Who are they?
Corruption takes many forms. For some, corruption looks like the politician who uses the nation's resources to line his pockets. For others, it's the police officer abusing authority. Or still, it is a purchasing agent using status to gain favors for personal gain.
For example, for citizens of India, corruption is widespread and takes the form of common, everyday government workers. From obtaining passports to university degrees, corruption is commonplace.
One group in India had enough and started fighting back. The group created a website called I Paid a Bribe (www.ipaidabribe.com) wherein citizens share and expose the details online of situations where they were extorted for money. This site attempts to 'out' the racketeers to help others who have to go through the same process in the future. And, the site provides a nice dashboard of related activity.
Details you can report about your bribery experience include the following: place of business, service needed, nature of the bribe requested and paid, and the name of those requesting the bribe. The website also allows for common folks to name "honest officers" to provide equal airtime. Surprisingly, many take time to report honest officers.
Small or large, it add ups
Small and very frequent occurrences of corruption can be just as damaging as large-scale fraudulent acts. In fact, when you add it all up, the World Economic Forum reports that corruption costs 5 percent of global GDP. (Source) However it seems that small-scale corruption is harder to police and prosecute. And, if corruption, fraud and bribery are allowed to become culturally integrated, it is almost impossible to eradicate.
There's a saying in Mexico that goes like this: "If you don't cheat, you don't get ahead." In Spanish it's "Él que no transa, no avanza." To prove the point, a study done in Mexico revealed that 40 percent of households reported paying a bribe to arrange for basic services. (Source)
In light of India's example, other countries have begun creating their own websites to combat corruption. In Uganda and Kenya, the website "Not in My Country" makes an effort to follow up on stories that are submitted. It encourages people to gather evidence and then guides them through the legal process so they can press charges.
In Pakistan, the government has implemented the Citizen Feedback Model. After a visit to a government office, citizens receive an automated call inquiring if they experienced any extortion or corrupt acts during their visit. This action enables the government to pinpoint the source of corruption to make decisions.
While these crowdsourcing platforms are doing a great job in publicizing corrupt practices and persons, it is still very distressing that they are needed in the first place.
Government: Get in Gear
Governments should take more aggressive action in rooting out corrupt practices, politicians and employees. It starts with adding or improving governance, including procedures and systems. Next, tighten up law enforcement practices and regulations to create a reduction in the scope of corruption for those in need of services.
Think of the value of spending $1 trillion a year on improving infrastructure and services. Start small and crowdsource the solution.
Note: This article and the opinions expressed here are from Russ Warner, VP of Marketing at Converus, makers of EyeDetect, an innovative, new lie detection solution.