Corruption Prevention

While corrupt conduct is not necessarily criminal, like much criminal activity it generally has three essential elements:

  • motivation
  • opportunity
  • an environment where there is a low threat of detection.

Therefore, to minimise corrupt conduct, organisations need to address these elements by:

  1. guiding the behaviour of the individuals that make up the organisation;
  2. ensuring that administrative processes do not create opportunities or incentives for corrupt conduct; and
  3. establishing methods of detecting inappropriate conduct when it occurs.

University's face many of the corruption risks faced by all organisations and all of the public sector eg. financial fraud, favouritism in recruitment, conflicts of interest, misuse of resources including cars, telephones, confidential information and the internet, to name a few. But, in addition to these types of corporate risks, universities also face some corruption risks associated with their distinctive academic activities of teaching, learning and research.

Some of these include:

  • in the learning process - cheating, plagiarism, soft marking, favouritism;
  • in the research process - falsifying results, undeclared conflict of interest, misuse of research funds;
  • in financial processes - fraud, undeclared conflict of interest, accepting bribes, gifts or other benefits;
  • in management & administration - misuse of resources, inappropriate recruitment and selection processes, abuse of confidential information;
  • staff behaviour - falsifying credentials, favouritism, accepting bribes, gifts or benefits, undeclared conflict of interest, abuse of confidential information;
  • student behaviour - falsifying documents, abuse of internet, cheating, plagiarism, inappropriate relationships;
  • corporate behaviour - failure to take action if wrongdoing is reported, collusion, inappropriate relationships with suppliers/clients;
  • involvement with the private sector - poor contract management, lack of transparency in commercial relationships (tendering, selection of suppliers etc), undeclared conflict of interest.

Reducing Corruption Risks

The systems and mechanisms an organisation has in place to allow it to effectively conduct its business can also be used to manage or treat corruption risks by reducing the motivation to act corruptly, reducing opportunities and increasing the threat of detection.

These organisational systems and mechanisms include:

  • corporate strategies, such as strategic and business planning and risk management;
  • code of conduct;
  • policies and procedures;
  • internal controls, such as ID cards, passwords, financial delegations, segregation of duties;
  • communication strategies, such as training courses, 'staff' emails, intra-net;
  • internal and external audit processes;
  • leadership and management, and
  • sanctions.

Many or all of these systems will already be in place so do not require the establishment of additional layers of bureaucracy or the development of new and different systems. Like all risk management systems, corruption prevention programs work best when they are incorporated into the broader governance framework.

While central administration and governance units of the university will be largely responsible for the development of these systems, senior staff still have a central role to play in their implementation and in the development and promotion of appropriate organisational cultures.

To assist in corruption prevention, managers must:

  • use the organisation's systems effectively;
  • authorise and endorse corruption prevention activities;
  • communicate with staff about policies and procedures, and
  • model the desired behaviour.

Updated: 27 March 2012