WP11Building accountability: transparency, civil service and administrative responses

This work package is led by the Quality of Government Institute and builds on  work package 7, exploring both institutional and societal factors considered essential to accountability, and in particular how these interact with one another to curb corruption or, alternately, fail to do so. The work package comprises four interrelated strands exploring these structures and dynamics of accountability. The first of these two relates to the institutions of horizontal accountability, i.e. institutional mechanisms designed to allow political institutions to detect and sanction misdeeds internally and externally, with a focus on bureaucratic autonomy, government transparency and government audit institutions. In order to map these institutional factors, researchers from WP11 conduct a worldwide survey of public administration experts in all countries, to be identified and contacted through professional networks of public administration scholars.

The first strand of inquiry probes the varying effectiveness of these horizontal accountability mechanisms on curbing corruption. The national level data from the expert survey is supplemented by contemporary and historical data for the bureaucratic structure at the sub-national level in EU27, and captures the level of politicization of central, regional and local bureaucracies, the recruitment and promotion systems within the civil service, and the financial conditions for those working in the civil service. This is done in collaboration with work package 5.

The second strand investigates the interaction between horizontal mechanisms of accountability and the efforts of non-state actors in holding government accountable.  Societal accountability, defined as the actions of domestic and international actors from outside the immediate sphere of the state to hold government accountable, may enhance the effectiveness of anticorruption measures, and institutional configurations may strongly affect the success of anti-corruption campaigns by non-state actors. This second strand builds both on the survey as well as on case studies to further elucidate whether and how transparency laws, bureaucratic structures, and other aspects of the accountability system enable international and domestic non-state actors to promote accountability.

The third strand of inquiry focuses on approaches to integrity management, looking at tensions between values-based and compliance-based systems. In regard to the former, particular emphasis is placed on civic and ethics education programmes. Key questions include whether changes in institutional design can be divorced from changes in organizational culture; whether the mutual dependence between regulators and the regulated creates particular pathologies; and whether the pursuit of ‘absolute integrity’ undermines government effectiveness.

The fourth and final strand of WP 11 turns its attention to electoral accountability and studies to what extent, in what way and with what consequences political parties politicise the issue of corruption as part of the process of democratic competition. The issue of anti-corruption has gained salience in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and in several countries, political parties campaigning on this particular issue have been electorally very successful. Key examples include the Simeon II National Movement and Citizens for European Development (Bulgaria); Res Publica (Estonia); New Era (Latvia); Smer (Slovakia); Law and Justice (Poland); Freedom and Solidarity (Slovakia); and Public Affairs (Czech Republic). This line of inquiry also explores the efforts and effectiveness of the social movement Without Corruption, the Future Starts Again (Italy) which sought to inject corruption into an election campaign. The research undertaken here attempts to answer the following questions: To what extent and in what way do parties politicise the issue of anti-corruption? Under what conditions do anti-corruption parties emerge and to what extent is their rise linked to levels and perceptions of corruption or the mobilisation of civil society against it? Under what conditions do such parties enter governing coalitions? And, if they do, what is their impact on anti-corruption policies? What are the broader implications of the use of anti-corruption as a tool of political mobilization for anti-corruption policies?