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Despite the PNG’s booming of resources in the last decade (growth 7% p.a.) and increased budget allocations for social services, wealth is not translating into well-being and equitable human development of all Papua New Guineans. Corruption is one of the major reasons for these inefficiencies. Exposing and combatting corruption is very difficult in a society, where client-patron relationships based on reciprocity rules are embedded in the social fabric of PNG through the ‘wantok’ system. Most citizens do not know where and how to denounce corruption and fear often violent retribution.
The ‘Phones against Corruption’ Initiative has offered an alternative safe space for reporting corrupt practices. Trialed with 1,200 staff of the Department of Finance (DoF), UNDP helped introduce a corruption reporting tool by SMS, a crowdsourcing approach that is easily accessible, anonymous and free of charge.
The SMS system involves close collaboration with government entities, the private sector, media and donors. Under the lead by the DoF, these partners are: Auditor General’s Office, Department of Provincial and Local Level Government Affairs, Digicel (mobile phone operator), mobimedia (designer of the SMS tool), Post Courrier newspaper, and Australian Government, with interest of collaboration from the European Union and Transparency International.
The SMS approach achieved important results in few weeks after its launch in the Department of Finance. By December 2014, 6,254 SMS were received from 1,550 different users. The Internal Audit and Compliance Division are investigating 251 cases of alleged corruption. Five staff were prosecuted waiting the judiciary trial, and two – having been involved in financial mismanagement of 5 million Kina (approx. USD 2m) - have been convicted for a jail sentence. The tool has not only created interest in PNG. The Australian-based SMS software provider, Mobimedia, has received requests from Bangladesh, Fiji, and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, about the effectiveness of this tool in combating corruption for possible replication in those countries in the near future.
To manage political and other sensitivities, ensure that you gain the trust of the target group, informing and involving them well and with clear messages about the purpose and process of the new approach;
As the approach deals with very sensitive issues, ensure absolute confidentiality in the investigations, while informing about high level results to show the effectiveness of and create further trust in the tool;
Ensure that the crowdsourcing approach is 100% anonymous.
Tito Balboa: email@example.com