55 minutes | Feb 24, 2020

25. Roberto de Michele & Francesco De Simone on IDB’s approaches to evidence-based Anti- Corruption

During his last visit to Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Matthew took the opportunity to interview Roberto de Michele (@rodemichele61) and Francesco De Simone, both Modernization of the State experts. As usual, the interview kicks off with providing some information on both interviewees’ background and motivation to do work on (anti-)corruption. The interview pursues to outline the four main clusters of anti-corruption work by the IDB: 1. financial integrity supporting countries with anti-money laundering tax transparency 2. governance in the extractive sector 3. control systems government oversight 4. open government access to information, open government partnership The three discuss how IDB standards can ensure progress in anti-corruption and what the track record of each assistance project has been. You can view the overview of all IDB projects on the website via https://www.iadb.org/en/projects. The interview points out new challenges for anti-corruption such as targeted transparency and which procurement specifics can actually ensure that oversight continues beyond the point when public contract are awarded. The three discuss the challenges of how to measure success, touching on the difference between outputs vs. outcomes, and how it might makes sense to rely on intermediate outcomes that indicate that things are improving, e.g. number of bidders in public procurement as a sign of competition. Underlying the challenges to measure corruption, Roberto and Francesco mention a IDB workshop with experts on measurement of corruption, featuring research by Mitchell Seligson (see for an example paper on victimization surveys below) Roberto and Francesco also outline what they have learned in the last decade about anti-corruption that surprised them. The three discuss the IDB’s “Report of the Expert Advisory Group on Anti-Corruption, Transparency, and Integrity in Latin America and the Caribbean” (See link in references). They cover why it is both unusual and useful. They discuss the different ideas about incremental vs. big push policy reforms and more broadly discuss which academic research has been valuable to the work of IDB. In particular, they touch on Benjamin Olken’s work on how to measure corruption (see most famous paper in ref list) and Paul Lagunes work in Peru (to find out more about Paul’s great work, you can check out this previous episode of Kickback: https://soundcloud.com/kickback-gap/4-episode-paul-lagunes The interview ends with Roberto’s and Francesco’s optimistic & pessimistic takes on corruption in South America. Francesco increasingly perceives himself in a pedagogical role emphasizing patience as anti-corruption is a long-term process, referring to the book The shame of the cities by Lincoln Steffens. References and further readings Engel, E., Noveck, B. S., Ferreira Rubio, D., Kaufmann, D., Lara Yaffar, A., Londoño Saldarriaga, J., Pieth, M., & Rose-Ackerman, S. (2018). Report of the Expert Advisory Group on Anti-Corruption, Transparency, and Integrity in Latin America and the Caribbean. http://dx.doi.org/10.18235/00001419 Lagunes, P. (2018). Guardians of accountability: a field experiment on corruption and inefficiency in local public works. Available via: https://repositorio.cgu.gov.br/bitstream/1/27537/3/Lagunes_2017_Working_paper.pdf Olken, B. A. (2007). Monitoring corruption: evidence from a field experiment in Indonesia. Journal of political Economy, 115(2), 200-249. Seligson, M. A. (2006). The measurement and impact of corruption victimization: Survey evidence from Latin America. World Development, 34(2), 381-404. Full text available here: https://cdn.vanderbilt.edu/vu-my/wp-content/uploads/sites/1209/2019/04/14113557/Seligson-The-Measurement-and-Impact-of-Corruption-World-Development-2005.pdf Steffens, L. (1904). The shame of the cities. McClure, Phillips & Company. https://g.co/kgs/mbMi46
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