USIS Washington 

24 February 1999


(Urges use of "diagnostic surveys") (3614)

Washington -- Vice President Al Gore says that government corruption
can not only destroy economies and destabilize governments but also
hamper economic growth and employment in third countries.

Addressing representatives from almost 90 countries, Gore outlined a
strategy for addressing corruption, including: fewer and clearer
regulations, greater privatization of government activities,
increasing accountability of government officials, and assuring the
free flow of information.

"Official corruption can speed environmental destruction, accelerate
the drug trade, even encourage the smuggling of biological, chemical
or nuclear weapons materials," Gore said February 24 in his keynote
address to "A Global Forum on Fighting Corruption: Safeguarding
Integrity Among Justice and Security Officials." The forum is
scheduled through February 26 at the State Department.

"Economically, corruption represents an arbitrary, exorbitant tax,"
Gore said. "It can lead to wasteful government spending, bigger
deficits, greater income inequality, and a crisis of confidence that
can spark capital flight, crash the economy, destabilize governments,
and put people half way around the world out of work."

Gore noted the success of in-depth diagnostic surveys of citizen and
business perceptions of corruption in Albania and Bolivia. These
surveys, conducted by local groups, international institutions and
nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), were then released to the public
and media.

"I am pleased to announce today that the United States plans to work
closely with the World Bank, local organizations, civil society and
other international donors and NGOs to support willing countries in
the use of these diagnostic surveys," Gore said. "When a country shows
it is committed to the rigorous self-analysis necessary to launch a
process of reform, we would be honored to work with its civil society,
companies, public officials, and citizens to assist and encourage
those efforts."

Concurrently, he said, the United States will press other countries to
sign the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
Convention on Bribery. He said the United States will also press for
global standards on transparency and accountability; an Agreement on
Transparency in Government Procurement at the December ministerial
meeting of the World Trade Organization, and regional anti-corruption
initiatives in Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe.

Following is the text of Gore's remarks as prepared for delivery:

(begin text)

Wednesday, February 24, 1999

Once in a rare while, the cycles of time present us with what
historians call an open moment -- when some combination of luck and
circumstance allow us the chance to choose a better future. We are in
such a moment. We have the chance now to draw on our oldest ethical
values, our strongest democratic principles, and our newest tools and
technologies, to do a better job than any people before us in creating
a world that is not just better off, but better -- for all who inhabit
the earth.

In the Old Testament, Moses teaches the people of Israel: "Do not
accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the
words of the righteous."

Some thousand years later, Confucius found in China a corrupt
government, and began to set the high moral standards he believed
would make for a more harmonious society.

Some thousand years after that, the Koran says: "O my people! Give
full measure and full weight in justice.... And do not evil in the
earth, causing corruption."

Corruption is an old affliction, and no corruption is more damaging
than the corruption that is the focus of this conference: corruption
among justice and security officials, those pledged to uphold the law.
In the information age, the speed of information, the movement of
capital, the increase of trade have all magnified the potential impact
of official corruption.

Official corruption can speed environmental destruction, accelerate
the drug trade, even encourage the smuggling of biological, chemical
or nuclear weapons materials. Economically corruption represents an
arbitrary, exorbitant tax. It can lead to wasteful government
spending, bigger deficits, greater income inequality, and a crisis of
confidence that can spark capital flight, crash the economy,
destabilize governments, and put people halfway around the world out
of work.

While the debate can rage all night about the precise role of
corruption in the global financial crisis, there can be no serious
doubt that the crisis has been aggravated by corruption. And now -- in
spite of the general prosperity of the U.S. economy, some American
sectors are hurting a great deal from that crisis. Of course, at the
epicenter of the financial crisis, it is far worse -- millions of
Asian families feel they have lost their financial future.

The point is -- corruption in one country can make its impact felt
around the world. No country can seal itself off from the impact of
corruption beyond its borders, and therefore every nation must work
with every other nation to fight corruption wherever it is in the

At the same time, to work well together, we must all acknowledge a
central truth: No nation has a monopoly on virtue. None has a corner
on corruption. And no nation has the right to lecture any other.

Just this month, three U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
employees, charged with patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border near
Nogales, were arrested for their involvement in a scheme to smuggle
illegal drugs into the U.S. The alleged role was simple -- looking the
other way. The alleged crime was vile -- betraying the trust of their
country, and selling out the millions of young people we seek to

The large amount of illegal drugs that pass through the 300 ports of
entry into the United States -- combined with the enormous amount of
money drug traffickers will spend trying to corrupt U.S. officials --
can put enormous pressure on the professionalism of officers from the
DEA, INS, Customs, and Treasury. We are attentive to it. We are
addressing it. But let's be clear: The stakes are too high --the lives
of our children too precious -- to waste time posturing about it. We
in the United States must have a serious, rigorous discussion of every
possible avenue for guarding against corruption -- both here and
abroad. And I want to welcome each and every one of you to the United
States, and thank you for coming to this conference to join us in this
critical three-day conversation on fighting corruption.

A sample of any week's newspapers, TV, and magazines might suggest
corruption is on the rise. We read and hear everywhere about its
infestation in former empires and its choke hold on young democracies.
Today, the reach of corruption seems longer; its power to shake the
world seems greater. And yet, there is hope. Hope in the successful
approaches of the past. And even greater hope in the early and growing
successes of today. There is an important reason why -- at a time of
apparent rise in global corruption -- that corruption may be suddenly
and surprisingly more vulnerable than before. Cynics no doubt will
mock any optimism in the fight against corruption. But let me remind
you of the words of George Bernard Shaw: "The reasonable man adapts
himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt
the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the
unreasonable man."

Let me review for you today the forces that can assist our fight
against corruption, and suggest to you that we have a secret weapon
that is unique to our time in history, and could turn the fight in our

First the world's tolerance for corruption is fading fast. Gone are
the days when corruption was written off merely as a cost of doing
business. Today, in more and more parts of the world, corruption is
seen as it should be seen: as serious crime with devastating
consequences -- as a cold, vicious, often violent sacrifice of citizen
security, for a narrow, greedy, private, personal profit on the part
of a crooked official.

As evidence of the rising interest in fighting corruption, let me
explain that we initially expected to have representatives from about
40 countries at this conference. In fact, we have representatives from
eighty-nine. Some nations were so eager to come they even cautioned us
that our bilateral relations would suffer if they were not invited.
And so we are here, squeezed to the walls, because of the rising
intolerance of corruption, and the rising sense that it is time to
take action against it. Victor Hugo once wrote: "An invasion of armies
can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come." Fighting
corruption is an idea whose time has come.

A second important force in our favor is leadership. We are blessed to
have in the world today -- and many are in this room right now -- very
prominent leaders who have placed the fight against corruption at the
heart of their public mission. There is no substitute for leadership
by example -- especially on the issue of official corruption.

The 13th-century Persian poet Saadi told this story to illustrate the
importance of leadership. A King was moving with his army through the
land when he came upon some beautiful apple trees. The King asked for
an apple, ate it, and suddenly noticed his top general had gone to pay
the owner the price of the apple.

When the General returned, the King challenged him: "Why did you pay
the man? He must have been flattered to have a King take a piece of
his fruit."

"Your Majesty," his General explained. "If you had taken even one
apple, your army would have taken the whole orchard"

People are guided by the behavior of the men and women they look to
for leadership.

A third force in our favor in our fight against corruption is the
growing trend toward government reform -- or reinventing government.
Just five weeks ago I hosted right here at the State Department an
international conference on Reinventing Government -- the effort to
institute reforms that can help government work better and cost less.
There is one especially striking parallel between that conference and
this one -- namely: in many cases, the very steps you would take to
reform government to reduce corruption are the same steps you would
take to reform government to increase efficiency.

As an example, confusing regulations can foster corruption. Adopting
fewer, clearer regulations would help reduce corruption. That is also
a principle of reinventing government.

Monopoly power can foster corruption. Diluting monopoly by privatizing
some functions would help reduce corruption. That is also a principle
of reinventing government.

Lack of accountability can foster corruption. Increasing
accountability by focusing on measurable results would help reduce
corruption. That is also a principle of reinventing government.

The point here is one often made by students and scholars of
international corruption, namely: the fight against corruption is not
separate from the process of government reform. They are both efforts
to make sure self-government works for its citizens.

A fourth factor in our favor in the fight against corruption is
ethical behavior. Robert Klitgaard, Dean of The Rand Graduate School
in Santa Monica California, has developed a formula to gauge the
likelihood of corruption. He describes it: C = M + D - A or
"corruption equals monopoly plus discretion minus accountability." If
you have a monopoly, and you have discretion in applying the rules,
and no one is holding you accountable, you are far likelier to become

I think that is a very insightful analysis, particularly if the
formula takes into account what I would call the "inner
accountability" of conscience. I believe conscience is innate,
universal, and one of the most important tools in the fight against

Chilean poet Pablo Neruda talked of "the most ancient rites of our
conscience." The poet Dante once wrote: "A light is given you to know
good and evil." Immanuel Kant once wrote: "Conscience is not a thing
to be acquired ... but every man, as a moral being, has it originally
within him."

More recently, Harvard Professor Jerome Kagan published a book
contending that there is a universal desire to see oneself as
ethically upright. This desire explains the power of conscience. If we
wish to see ourselves as ethically upright, we will avoid situations
where we could be seen doing wrong.

This explains not only the power of our private conscience, but also
the power of our public conscience -- our clergy. Our Priests,
Ministers, Monks, Nuns, Mullahs -- who represent God in society. They
are the public voice of conscience. They command enormous respect
throughout society. They have immense power to tilt the scales toward
good in public life. I look forward to their work here at the
conference, and to having their ongoing participation in society's
efforts to root out corruption.

If we accept that people, driven by conscience, really do prefer to be
clean and honest, we can see the wisdom in reinventing government and
reforming systems to make it easier for people to make the right
ethical choices. And it would itself be ethical to do so. After all,
the last line in the most famous prayer in the Christian world begins
with the words "And lead us not into temptation." A system that
reduces temptation and engages conscience will reduce corruption.

The fifth factor in our favor as we fight against corruption may be
decisive. Some months ago, I spoke of people whose countries were in
economic crisis, raising calls for democracy and reform. But today, in
the information age, reform is not enough unless it matched with an
effort to inform. First inform; then reform. Then, information may be
decisive, because information is the natural enemy of corruption.
Corruption thrives on ignorance, not information. It needs secrecy,
not transparency. It seeks darkness, not light.

It has always been a legendary trait of organized crime that members
of the syndicate would not talk; because talk would kill them. It is
the same today with corruption. The free flow of information is the
very thing corruption cannot abide, and yet the free flow of
information is the signature trait of the age in which we live.

There have never been more channels of information, more sources of
information, more storehouses of information. Information has never
moved more quickly, to more people, with more purpose. Information has
never been more prized, more purchased, or more essential to the
wealth and success of society. It is the central medium of exchange.

At a time when society's central industry is the effort to satisfy
people's need to know -- it bodes ill for corruption that it lives off
the need that no one know --that no one talk; and no one take action.

In fact, the recent examples of successful efforts against corruption
come from the power of information, and the action of civil society.

In Argentina recently, newspapers reported huge discrepancies in
public school lunch costs between the capital of Buenos Aires and a
more rural school district. Within two weeks, there were personnel
changes in Buenos Aires and lunch costs dropped by half. If we inform
civil society, civil society will reform the system.

Through a process called third-party procurement monitoring that
brings openness, transparency and information to the process, a
private firm has helped the Ministry of Health of Guatemala reduce its
corruption, gain savings of 43 percent, and lower the price of its
medicine by an average of 20 percent. The same approach has shown
results in countries as diverse as Kenya, the Dominican Republic,
Argentina, and Colombia.

In several countries from Latin America to Eastern Europe and to the
former Soviet Union, the World Bank -- in collaboration with local
institutions and civil society and international NGOs such as
Transparency International -- has collaborated with local Governments
to administer deeply detailed surveys on corruption to citizens,
companies, and public officials in willing countries. Survey results
typically reveal that public officials are highly cooperative survey
respondents. They are very candid. They say they are themselves sick
and tired of the corruption in their midst, and they are prepared to
join coalitions to address the problem.

Businesses -- far from accepting corruption as a cost of business --
say they would pay 15-20 percent more in taxes just to be free of the
costs and hassles of corruption. As an example of the depth of
corruption exposed by these diagnostic surveys, respondents from one
country say it takes an average bribe of one thousand dollars to get a
phone line. In another country, 60 percent of the customs officials
surveyed say they purchased their positions. You know that if they pay
for their position, they will make their position pay off.

Following this in-depth diagnostic survey approach, all this data is
released in a major public meeting in the country, with the media
present. Leaders from government, business, and civil society then
come to consensus on an action plan targeting the worst areas of

In Bolivia, Vice President Quiroga -- after receiving and reviewing
the survey results on official corruption in his country -- delivered
a PowerPoint presentation before a national television audience
identifying his 20 priorities over the next twelve months, and
promised to follow up with further diagnostic survey work to monitor
progress. This is just a beginning, of course. But it is an auspicious

In Albania, the then Prime Minister was presiding at a diagnostic
survey workshop last summer. He said "we can sit here past midnight
and argue about a particular number or claim that a point has been
overstated. That would be a waste. We have the data. We know what
needs to be done. Let's begin." The next day, all the nation's
newspapers carried Page One coverage of the results, with charts,
graphs, and texts of survey results. Pushed off the front page that
day -- amazingly -- was coverage of the prior day's crucial World Cup
Soccer match between Albania's neighbors Romania and Croatia. People
were more eager to see the survey information.

As a result of the excellent early results of this approach, and its
success in engaging the energy of civil society, public officials,
business people and individual citizens, I am pleased to announce
today that the United States plans to work closely with the World
Bank, local organizations, civil society and other international
donors and NGOs to support willing countries in the use of these
diagnostic surveys. When a country shows it is committed to the
rigorous self-analysis necessary to launch a process of reform, we
would be honored to work with its civil society, companies, public
officials, and citizens to assist and encourage those efforts.

Of course, this initiative will be part of our administration-wide
effort to mount a comprehensive, global response to the problem of
corruption. Over the next two years we in the U.S. will work
diligently with our friends and partners to (1) urge other key
exporting nations to ratify and implement the OECD Convention; (2) to
develop and implement global standards on transparency and
accountability; (3) to conclude an Agreement on Transparency in
Government Procurement at the WTO ministerial in Seattle later this
year; and (4) to pursue region-wide anti-corruption initiatives in the
Americas, Asia-Pacific, Africa, and Europe -- including urging
ratification in the United States Senate of the Inter-American
Convention and seeking full implementation by all signatories.

We also look forward to working with all of you to maximize the
advantages offered by what is called "mutual evaluation" -- an
approach where different countries conduct on-site mutual evaluations
to heighten the accountability and rigor attached to anti-corruption

I would suggest, to build on the effectiveness of the mutual
evaluations, that we discuss during this conference ways to supplement
the mutual evaluation process with an Internet-based reporting device.
In addition, the mutual evaluation teams might consider offering
individual citizens and business people of the host country the
opportunity to serve as evaluators. That would increase interest and
awareness of the evaluation efforts and help contribute to their

The information age -- with its advances in science and technology,
new medical discoveries, mobile capital, expanded trade, and
instantaneous communication -- offers great opportunities coupled with
great risks -- and thus brings us to the open moment I mentioned
earlier. We have a rare chance to use the tools of our newest
technology in the service of our oldest values -- helping us build
faith in democracy, improve competitiveness, expand prosperity, expose
corruption, and strengthen the system of self-government that is
history's greatest guardian of freedom, equality, opportunity and
human dignity.

If we do not fight for these values, the information age will simply
create more efficient channels for the spread of mischief, mayhem and
corruption. Make no mistake: this is a fight for our values. We know
that as bribery rises, civil liberties fall. We know that as bribery
rises, the rule of law falls. We know that as bribery rises, the
professionalism of our civil service falls. We are not engaged in an
academic debate. We are locked in a battle over the kind of world we
will leave our children

Together, for the sake of a greater global community, let us set new
standards of humanity and new heights of prosperity -- by matching
wisdom with intelligence, humanity with humor, compassion with common
sense, and realism with idealism -- by instituting the open, honest,
transparent, democratic systems that will help make public servants
accountable for the best and most honest use of public money, and urge
them to earn and safeguard every citizen's deposit of public trust.
Thank you.

(end text)