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Cases show how open data can help fight against corruption

Written by Philip Jones on Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Building on a year-long piece of research, TI-UK published today a set of recommendations to the UK Government and public bodies on how they can improve their data provision to help with the fight against corruption.


Building on a year-long piece of research, TI-UK published today a set of recommendations to the UK Government and public bodies on how they can improve their data provision to help with the fight against corruption.

The recommendations come at a time when Prime Minister David Cameron has begun his second term in office by addressing corruption as a priority – where an open and transparent government is a vital aspect of the agenda – giving open data an important role to play in tackling corruption.

The paper How Open Data Can Help Tackle Corruption provides a summary of our research into how open data can be used to tackle corruption. The research involved analysing 95 case studies of corrupt behaviour and identifying the primary method of finding this information.

“Transparency is a proven means of deterring and detecting corruption and making institutions accountable as well as helping improve the balance of power between public institutions and the citizens they are designed to serve. For this reason we view an open government as an essential element in combatting corruption in the UK and call on the Government and public bodies to do more to become a truly transparent country.” Dr. Robert Barrington, Executive Director Transparency International UK

We found that open data can be used to deter and detect corrupt acts, and should be an integral part of the UK’s anti-corruption toolkit, despite historically not being seen as a tool used to identify incidents of corruption in the UK.

The research also identified particular types of data that could be more relevant to specific types of corrupt behaviours, finding that open data’s role in tackling corruption can differ dramatically depending on whether the behaviour is illegal or not.

Law enforcement investigations appear to be the best method of identifying criminal activity, while open data can play a more powerful role in informing public debate about activity that is not technically illegal or a breach of certain rules, but nevertheless ethically questionable.

In our report, we make 45 proposals for the UK Government and public bodies to take forward as part of its UK Anti-Corruption Plan.

The report also makes three major recommendations that the Government should take forward as a matter of priority:

  • Empower an open data authority with the necessary resources and powers to maintain consistent standards of proactive disclosure across the public sector and public services that are outsourced to the private sector.
  • Bring forward legislation to reform the statutory register of lobbyists so it covers both in-house and consultant lobbyists and provides meaningful detail about lobbying activities in the UK.
  • To improve detection and deterrence of lobbying abuses we recommend the UK Government:
    1. Improves the timeliness and quality of data published about meetings between lobbyists and Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and Special Advisers.
    2. Extend this proactive publication to include minutes of meetings involving major decisions.
    3. Publish details of all secondments to and from private sector.

 Click here read and download the report.

The TACOD project was co-funded by the Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme of the European Union


Read 1357 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 12:18

Philip Jones

Philip is TI-UK's Communications Officer. You can follow him on Twitter at @PBentleyJones

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