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Good Governance and the Fight against Corruption

Vincent Tophoff  | 

World Bank President Dr. Jim Yong Kim recently wrote an inspiring blog on LinkedIn about the critical importance of good governance for all countries, arguing that “when [good governance] doesn’t exist, many governments fail to deliver public services effectively; health and education services are often substandard; corruption persists in rich and poor countries alike, choking opportunity and growth.”

Fortunately for the world, Dr. Kim sees a new wave of progress, driven by “the spread of information technology and its convergence with grassroots movements for transparency, accountability, and citizen empowerment.” He subsequently provides a series of examples where progress indeed had been achieved. However, as “many challenges remain in fighting corruption and promoting good governance,” he concludes his blog with a call to people in both developed and developing countries to share their experiences with anti-corruption or governance programs.

Through our interactions with professional accountants and others working in the public sector around the world, IFAC recognizes the need for more effective public sector governance. I posted a comment on Dr. Kim’s blog citing the recently published International Framework: Good Governance in the Public Sector as a resource for other readers to encourage more effective public sector governance.

The Framework addresses many of the specific topics that Dr Kim talks about, for example, avoiding and tackling corruption; transparency and accountability; improving communication and information technology; and fighting poverty by ensuring that public sector entities achieve their intended outcomes while acting in the public interest at all times.

The Framework also emphasizes the fundamental importance for public sector entities to behave with integrity, demonstrate strong commitment to ethical values, and respect the rule of law. In addition, it urges public sector entities to:

  • implement effective arrangements for determining their desired outcomes and what interventions are needed to achieve those outcomes;
  • develop their leadership capacity;
  • manage their risks and performance through robust internal control and strong public financial management; and
  • implement good practices in transparency, reporting, and audit to deliver effective accountability.

No matter how good the Framework is, however, the proper application is the real challenge, because this is so often where the problems lie. To that end the Framework and its supplement also include application guidance, implementation tips, and examples.

We believe that the Framework will be a potent tool for public sector entities seeking to enhance their governance arrangements, win the battle against corruption, and reinforce transparency and accountability. What do think? What else can be done to enhance governance in the public sector?

Vincent Tophoff

Former Senior Technical Manager

Vincent Tophoff was a senior technical manager at IFAC, working with the Professional Accountants in Business Committee. Previously, he was a partner at INTE-Q Integration Management, a management accountancy consulting firm in The Netherlands and senior lecturer at the postgraduate accountancy program of the Vrije University in Amsterdam.