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Fighting Corruption in Public Services - Chronicling Georgia's reforms

Updated: 23 June 2014

Ten years ago corruption was frequent in Georgia. Through dedicated efforts, certain public services today are considered basically free of corruption. Representatives from the World Bank presented the success story and a new book on this theme at a seminar held at Sida.

A team  from the World Bank  presented a new book at Sida on February 7, 2012: Fighting Corruption in Public Services - Chronicling Georgia's reforms.  The book tells the story about how transparency and integrity in specific public services improved - and corruption was reduced in Georga, since the Rose Revolution in 2003.

How did Georgia manage to move from being a society where corruption permeated nearly every aspect of life, to a place where at least certain public services today are considered basically free of corruption - in less than 10 years?

Two main message from the book are

1)  Public services can be cleaned up

2) “corruption is culture” is a myth

The WB team, including the main author of the book Mr Asad Alam, described the reforms and decision making processes behind the success, and particularly high-lighted the strong political will and a strategy characterized by mutually reinforcing reforms for corruption prevention, detection, and enforcement in a wide range of public services.

A number of measures - some quite unconventional and controversial - were introduced such as negotiating cash payments with jailed corrupt officials and business people in return for their release (as jails became too crowded…)  or firing all traffic police officers in the country over night, in order to make a fresh start . There were 10 crosscutting factors that helped explain the achievements – listed below.

The presenters of the book agreed that there are still institutional and governance challenges ahead in Georgia, but emphasized that the book is merely documenting the reforms that took place without evaluating the approach, and without assessing the efforts toward democratization, which were a key part of the Rose Revolution.

In spite of remaining challenges and some concerns over the sustainability of the reform- it is quite clear that Georgia is a very interesting rare case of succesfull anti-corruption reform. Not all of it can be replicated in other countries, but many aspects could be adapted and experiences used in other contexts.

10 lessons learned from the Georgian anti-corruption reform

  1. Exercise Strong Political Will
  2. Establish Credibility  Early
  3. Launch a Frontal Assault
  4. Attract New Staff
  5. Limit the Role of the State
  6. Adopt  Unconventional Methods
  7. Develop Unity of Purpose and Coordinate Closely
  8. Tailor International Experience to Local Conditions
  9. Harness Technology
  10.  Use Communications Strategically


Page owner: Communication Unit

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