70% of Governments Fail to Protect Against Corruption in the Defense Sector, Report Finds
Seventy per cent of countries leave the door open to waste and security threats as they lack the tools to prevent corruption in the defense sector, according to the first ever index measuring how governments prevent and counter corruption in defense, released by Transparency International UK’s Defense and Security Program. Those with poor controls include two-thirds of the largest arms importers and half of the biggest arms exporters in the world, according to TI.
Germany and Australia are the only countries that have strong anti-corruption mechanisms according to the index, with measures in place such as robust parliamentary oversight of defense policy, stringent standards expected of defense companies, and accountable intelligence services. Nine countries – Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, DRC, Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Syria, and Yemen – exhibit critical risk, lacking basic measures such as controls to enable accountability, making institutionalisation of anti-corruption mechanisms in the sector near impossible, according to TI. South America and Eastern Europe, on the other hand, show lower risk of corruption thanks to strong technical controls in areas such as administration of audits, the TI report found.
The Government Defense Anti-Corruption Index analyzed what 82 countries do to reduce corruption risks. These countries accounted for 94 per cent of the global military expenditure in 2011, equivalent to US$1.6 trillion. Countries were scored in bands from very low risk (A) to critical risk (F) according to detailed assessment across 77 indicators that cover five prominent risk areas in the sector: politics, finance, personnel, operations, and procurement.
“Corruption in defense is dangerous, divisive and wasteful, and the cost is paid by citizens, soldiers, companies and governments. Yet the majority of governments do too little to prevent it, leaving numerous opportunities to hide corruption away from public scrutiny and waste money that could be better spent,” explained Mark Pyman, Director of Transparency for International UK’s Defense and Security Program.
Transparency International called on governments to make "this traditionally secretive sector, which involves large public contracts, more open." In TI’s view, defense establishments should increase citizens’ access to information about defense budgets and procurement, and legislators should have stronger controls and oversight of the sector, possessing the teeth and access to cut corruption down.
TI estimated the global cost of corruption in the defense sector to be a minimum of US$20 billion per year, based on data from the World Bank and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).