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Monday, January 11, 2010

South Florida's Civil Society in 2010: Doral creating a "Citizen's Audit Board" at their Wednesday City Council meeting

City of Doral creating a "Citizen's Audit Board" at their Jan. 13th Council meeting.
The city council previously approved this at
First Reading at their December 9th meeting.





Published in Miami Herald on 12/31/2009

I'm not personally aware of other cities around
here that already have this, but maybe someplace
known for being well-run like Coral Springs does.

Have you heard about similar existing groups
in
South Florida and how they've been run?


Something worth considering in every city hall,
duchy and burg in South Florida, to be sure.

As is this:


Excerpt from
"Pillars of Integrity: The Importance of Supreme Audit Institutions
in Curbing Corruption"

Edited by Kenneth M. Dye and Rick Stapenhurst, 1997.
International Bank for Reconstruction and Development
http://info.worldbank.org/etools/docs/library/18120/pillars.pdf


I. Corruption

News media around the world are reporting on
corruption on a daily basis; and clearly demonstrate
that it is not something that is exclusively, or even
primarily, a problem of developing countries. Recent
events in Europe and North America have shown all
too clearly that corruption is not something that is
exclusively, or even primarily, a problem of developing
countries.

Clearly, corruption is a complex issue. While its roots
are grounded in a country’s particular social and
cultural history, political and economic development,
bureaucratic traditions and policies, one can generalize
to state that corruption tends to flourish when
institutions are weak and economic policies distort
the marketplace (World Bank, 1997b).
It distorts economic and social development, by
engendering wrong choices and by encouraging
competition in bribery rather than in the quality
and price of goods and services.
Moreover, it is the poor countries—and the poor
within poor countries—which can least afford the
costs of corruption (Langseth, Stapenhurst and
Pope, 1997). Moreover, evidence suggests that if
corruption is not contained, it will grow and that
once a pattern of successful bribes is institutionalized,
corrupt officials have an incentive to demand
larger bribes, engendering a “culture” of illegality
that in turn breeds market inefficiency (Rose-
Ackerman 1996).

Corruption has been described as a “cancer.”
It violates public confidence in the state and
endangers social cohesion. Grand corruption
—where millions of dollars change hands,
is reported with increasing frequency in rich
and poor countries alike. Petty corruption is
less reported, but can be equally damaging;
a small bribe to a public servant for a government
service may only involve a minor payment,
but when such bribes are multiplied a million
times, their combined impact can be enormous.
If left unchecked, the accumulation of seemingly
petty bribes can erode legitimacy of public
institutions to the extent that even noncorrupt
officials and members of the public see little point
in remaining honest (World Bank, 1997b).

Forms of corruption need to be contained for
practical reasons. Faced with the challenge of at
least maintaining, if not improving, standards of
public service delivery, no country can afford the
inefficiency that accompanies corruption. While
some may argue that corruption can help grease
the wheels of a slow-moving and over-regulated
economy, evidence indicates that it increases the
costs of goods and services, promotes unproductive
investments, and leads to a decline in the quality
of public services (Gould and Amaro-Reyes
1983). Indeed, recent evidence suggests that rather
than expediting public service, corruption may be
more like “sand in the wheels” : recent corruption
surveys in Tanzania, Uganda, Ukraine and elsewhere
show that people paying bribes to public
officials actually received slower service than those
who did not.

Simply defined, corruption is the abuse of public
power for personal gain or for the benefit of a group
to which one owes allegiance. It occurs at the intersection
of public and private sectors, when public
office is abused by an official accepting, soliciting,
or extorting a bribe. Klitgaard (1996) has developed
a simple model to explain the dynamics of
corruption:

C (Corruption) = M (Monopoly Power) +
D (Discretion) – A (Accountability)


In other words, the extent of corruption depends
on the amount of monopoly power and discretionary
power that an official exercises. Monopoly
power can be large in highly regulated
economies; discretionary power is often large in
developing countries and transition economies
where administrative rules and regulations are often
poorly defined. And finally, accountability may
also be weak, either as a result of poorly defined
ethical standards of public service, weak administrative
and financial systems and ineffective watchdog
agencies.

Successful strategies to curb corruption will
have to simultaneously seek to educe an official’s
monopoly power (e.g. by market-oriented reforms),
discretionary power (e.g. by administrative reform)
and enhance accountability (e.g. through watchdog
agencies). Such mechanisms,
when designed as part of a national effort to
reduce corruption, comprise an integrity system.
This system of checks and balances, designed
to manage conflicts of interest in the public sector,
limits situations in which conflicts of interest
arise or have a negative impact on the common
good. This involves both prevention and penalty.
An integrity system embodies a comprehensive
view of reform, addressing corruption in the public
sector through government processes (leadership
codes, organizational change) and through civil
society participation (the democratic process,
private sector, media).

Thus, reform is initiated and supported not only
by politicians and policy makers, but also by
members of civil society.

Exactly!

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