Not as Easy as It Sounds? Delivering the National Integrity System Approach in Practice - the Case Study of the National Anti-Corruption Programme in Lithuania

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ABSTRACT

The article takes forward some of the issues deriving from the Transparency International concept of the National Integrity System [NIS]. The NIS is a framework approach developed by Jeremy Pope when he was with TI that proposes assessing corruption and reform holistically. The NIS not only looks at separate institutions, or separate areas of activity, or separate rules and practices, but also bases its perspective on institutional and other inter-relationships, inter-dependence and combined effectiveness. It provides a framework for the development of comprehensive country-wide anti-corruption plans.

This article assesses the NIS approach in the light of the main themes raised by two research studies into the NIS in practice - one funded by the Dutch Government and the other by the UK Department for International Development - in some 40 countries, involving 18 countries, including transitional countries.

One such country - Lithuania - is used to illustrate the NIS in practice and, in particular, issues concerning the delivery of an NIS in practice. The implementation of the Lithuanian anticorruption programme is used to assess how easy or difficult it is both to deliver a comprehensive reform process that reflects the purpose of an NIS in practice and to implement its core components. Such issues should inform the nature of the support provided by donor agencies and also what expectations other transnational agencies may have of transitional countries as they seek to implement an appropriate and integrated framework to address corruption. Overall, the use of the NIS is seen as a useful framework within which to assess corruption and deliver reform. Seeking to implement a comprehensive programme without the use of such a methodology or framework does create issues of effective implementation.

PART 1: THE NIS

Introduction - The NIS Approach: Framework and Implementation

The first point about the use of an NIS is that it provides a comprehensive country-specific framework or template through which anti-corruption reform may be assessed and pursued.1 The development of the NIS was very much a response to addressing reform within country specificity but bearing in mind the failures of previous initiatives, which have included: the inability of any single individual or agency to address the extent of corruption; the absence of top-level commitment; overly-ambitious reform projects; piecemeal and uncoordinated reform; overreliance on the laws as the vehicle for reform; lack of focus or uneven application of reforms; lack of sustainable institutional mechanisms; the potential for corruption among those institutions responsible for dealing with corruption. By identifying and focusing on common core components and actions as vehicles for combating corruption, the NIS framework was intended to seek to resolve failings of past evaluation and reform efforts by proposing a more comprehensive and ongoing framework with which to assess corruption, through to measure institutional, inter-institutional and procedural relations, and then to propose integrated reforms. As the initial paper proposing the NIS noted:

'This paper does not suggest that there are easy solutions or models that can be applied in the fight against corruption; nor does it suggest that any country has yet designed an ideal model, or indeed that such an ideal model exists. What this paper does argue is that while each country or region is unique in its own history and culture, its political systems, and its stage of economic and social development, similarities do exist and that experience and lessons are often transferable. A "national integrity system" is proposed as a comprehensive method of fighting corruption. It comprises eight pillars (public awareness, public anti-corruption strategies, public participation, "watchdog" agencies, the judiciary, the media, the private sector, and international cooperation) which are interdependent. …