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European Commission. 15 July 1997. Agenda 2000 – Commission Opinion on Slovakia’s Application for Membership of the European Union. Brussels: European Commission. Available .

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Marilyn Stasio writes the Crime column for the Book Review.

It would not have been possible to reform the old patronage-based bureaucracy without access to the human capital represented by this entire generation of university- educated officials. Every important reform effort undertaken to create modern state bureaucracies – in Germany, Britain, France, Japan and elsewhere – was accompanied by parallel efforts to modernise the higher education system in ways that would benefit public administration. Today development finance institutions focus on helping to provide universal primary and secondary education to poor countries and have largely given up on supporting elite education. The reasons for this are understandable, but do not correspond to the historical experience of state modernisation in countries that became rich in earlier eras.

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Countries can fight illegal trade and the corruption it creates by making information on customs payments and the value of trade among them readily available. Governments can also pass laws that force companies and countries to prove the legitimacy of their products now that technology enables the easy creation of a chain of custody for goods through the use of microchips and satellite tracking. Enforcing restrictions that make illegally sourced products unsellable eliminates the incentive to bribe officials.

Goodwill and its Amortization: The Rules and The Realities


Together we are against corruption. And together we can defeat it.

Procurement is especially interesting, because it is an area where governments must have the political acumen and will to navigate the trade-offs that reform will entail. Governments cannot just stop procurement while they fix the system. As the Afghan case study shows, simply stopping the procurement of obviously flawed fuel contracts in the middle of a war would have meant losing the war. But, because the governance structures were in place to allow for a sufficiently senior level of decision making, an alternative arrangement could be developed.

A topic of my choice dealing with Double Indemnity

Afghanistan has only just started implementing the fully fledged reform needed to root out corruption. It took decades to build up a system that systematised corruption at every level. It will be many years before the Government can claim success. But the strategy and roadmap for reform are clear, and the first round of hurdles has already been passed.

Wow, Randy….this article is beautiful. Nice work.

This is not the only route that countries can follow. But the Afghan Government’s procurement reforms offer many valuable lessons for how to bring an end to corruption in development. Procurement everywhere accounts for a very large share of government expenditure, but in post- conflict or post-disaster countries there will always be a sudden surge of new procurement into systems without the experience to manage it. Fragmentation is built into the reconstruction process. Properly managed reform, with high- level oversight, closes down opportunities for corruption and aligns procurement designs with the institutional capacities needed to control corruption.

Thanks so much for the kind words!

Secondly, it details how successful high-level reform strategies need to begin with the understanding that corruption is not a phenomenon in and of itself, but the result of fragmented regimes that lack accountability. During the war in Afghanistan, responsibility for unprecedentedly large amounts of money fell to diverse control systems, none of which had the capacity or reach to compensate for the lack of state-managed oversight. Overcoming fragmentation could only begin from the top.