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Indias Fight Against Corruption through Website: A Case Study of I Paid A Bribe Website

INDIAS FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION THROUGH WEBSITE: A CASE STUDY


I PAID A BRIBE WEBSITE

OF

Executive Summary
Corruption is major problem in India, which makes poor peoples live worse
through additional cost and delay in public service delivery. Poor people in
India pay $200 million dollar annually for free public services. This has been
reflected in major corruption measurements i.e. Transparency Internationals
corruption perception index and Global Corruption Barometer, the World
Bankss Governance Indicators, where India performed poorly.
In recent times, India experienced a surge of anticorruption initiatives by
government and civil society organizations. One such initiative named I Paid
A Bribe, a website founded by Janagraha Centre for Citizenship for bribe
reporting, drew considerable attention. The website was initially based in
India, later expanded to 14 more countries. This paper critically analyzed the
success and scope of I Paid A Bribe (IPAB) website which focuses on India.
The key issue the paper will explore is the effectiveness of IPAB in addressing
corruption in India. In other words, the potential of a website to stimulate
positive change in the fight against corruption. In doing so, the paper will try
to broaden the scope of IPAB to tackle corruption, where India is seriously
struggling. IPABs objective is to gather data on petty corruption, inform
citizens about bribery trends and provide government with corruption
information. The paper identified important stakeholders of IPABs program
along with their respective roles, level of influence and level of interest.
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Indias Fight Against Corruption through Website: A Case Study of I Paid A Bribe Website

Stakeholder analysis identified government as a key player with high interest


and influence in the anticorruption initiative, with citizens as another key
player with low interest ad influence.
IPABs core strategy is to collect, compile and analyze information from
different bribe reports submitted by the users and disseminate to wider
audience. IPAB collet four types of reports I paid a bribe, I did not pay a
bribe, I met an honest officer and I dont want to pay a bribe. IPAB also
produces location and sector specific data to show most corrupt places and
departments. The paper applied IPABs operations into two good governance
framework one by Asian Development Bank and one by the World Bank to
explore which of those areas are addressed by IPAB. While IPABs operation
responds to ADBs framework effectively, its narrow objective limits it from
addressing WB framework, which had broader perspective.
By May, 2015, The total number of reports in IPAB website reached to 44,663
and the number of visitors to 4.5 million. However, IPABs success in
preventing corruption is very little; until now, only two departments of Indian
government brought some policy change influenced by IPABs operation.
Strengths of IPAB include, anonymous reporting, legal advice to its users,
recognition of honest officers, use of technology etc. The limitations IPAB
face are urban focus, low internet penetration, little influence in policy
change, no verification of information etc.

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Indias Fight Against Corruption through Website: A Case Study of I Paid A Bribe Website

The paper identifies that IPAB, in spite of it limitation, has the potential to
become an effective force in the fight against corruption. The paper suggests
IPAB to broaden their mission, engage with all stakeholders, especially with
the government and public officials and adopt a good governance approach.
BACKGROUND:
Corruption is a major problem all around the world especially in developing
countries. Corruption increases the cost and delay the service what makes
poor peoples lives more difficult. In India, poor people pay about $200
million dollar a year to receive government services, which are completely
free (ADB 2013). The extensive corruption in India seriously disrupting many
developmental efforts, where weak enforcement and lack of commitment by
the government is failing to address the corruption problem strongly.
The latest Corruption Perception Index of 2014 by Transparency International
(TI), which explores how corrupt the public sector of a country is, placed
India at 85th position among the 175 countries with and score of 38 out of
1001 (TI 2014). According to World Bank Governance Indicators in 2013,
where control of corruption2 is one of the six indicators, Indias score for

1 Scores range from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). Source:


http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi
2 Control of corruption reflects perceptions of the extent to which public power is
exercised for private gain. This includes both petty and grand forms of corruption,
as well as "capture" of the state by elites and private interests.

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Indias Fight Against Corruption through Website: A Case Study of I Paid A Bribe Website

controlling corruption is -0.563 and percentile rank is 35.89 (World Bank


2014). In Global Corruption Barometer 2013, another survey by TI to explore
public opinion on corruption, 31% respondents expressed their concerns over
increasing corruption for last two years4 (TI 2014). The survey also reported
political parties (86% of respondents) and police force (75% of the
respondents) as extremely corrupt5. All of these corruption measurements
identified India as one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
Considering the widespread corruption in India, many interventions from
government, business and non-profit sector emerged over the years. I Paid A
Bribe was one such intervention initiated by a non-profit organization named
Janagraha Centre for Citizenship in 2010 (OWFI6 2011). I Paid A Bribe (IPAB)
is a website where users can report on retail or petty corruption through
anonymous identity. Later, identifying better accessibility and larger mobile
penetration, IPAB launched a text message based reporting system where
people can use cell phone to report on bribery. Since its inception, IPAB
expanded to 14 other countries like Pakistan, Syria, Kenya, Zimbabwe,
Liberia, Ukraine, Hungary, Serbia, Guyana, with 15 more countries following
soon. Each country has a different website, sometimes in their own
3 Point estimates range from about -2.5 to 2.5. Higher values correspond to better
governance outcomes.
4 http://www.transparency.org/gcb2013/country/?country=india
5 Ibid.
6 OWFI stands for OneWorld Foundation India.

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Indias Fight Against Corruption through Website: A Case Study of I Paid A Bribe Website

language. For the purpose of this paper, the analysis will refer to only IPABs
Indian website. In this website, users can provide information on paying
bribes, resisting bribes and meeting honest officers as well as they can ask
for information on different public service. The reports of bribery include
nature, number, pattern, types, location, frequency and values of the
incidents they encountered when receiving public services7. IPABs unique
approach has received considerable attention from different types of
stakeholders. This paper will try to assess its success and explore the ways
to improve its effectiveness to fight corruption.

Problem Identification:
The paper will try to explore the effectiveness of IPAB in addressing
corruption in India. In other words, the paper will analyze the potential of a
website to fight against corruption. As recently Indian government
introduced e-governance to provide public services in many areas e.g.
acquiring license, paying taxes, clearing goods etc. (Chene 2009), using
information technology for anticorruption purpose finds its relevance under
the current circumstances The paper will also identify IPABs success,
strength and limitations so that IPAB can enhance its operations and expand
its impact.

7http://www.transparency.org/files/content/corruptionqas/376_technological_innovat
ions_to_identify_and_reduce_corruption.pdf

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Indias Fight Against Corruption through Website: A Case Study of I Paid A Bribe Website

IPABs Program Objective:


The objective of IPAB is to explore the dynamics of petty corruption, in other
worlds, bribery in daily life. IPABs aim is not to identify people but to
identify problem8. IPAB intends to collect information of bribe reports and
share it publicly, acting like an information hub for corruption activities.
Though IPABs objective is narrow, this paper is trying to expand its horizon
by considering IPABs potential to reach massive population and accumulate
large amount of corruption related information. IPAB identifies that corruption
has two sides: supply side, when citizens are interested to pay bribe, and
demand side, when public officials demand bribes (OWFI 2011). The program
addresses both sides through sharing information to both stakeholders.
Stakeholder Analysis:
Several important stakeholders can be associated with IPABs operations.
Following table depicts different stakeholders and their roles related with
IPABs interventions:
Stakeholders

Roles

1. Janagraha
(Implementing
Agency)

Implements IPABs
operation
Manages IPAB website and
provides funding
Works as information hub
to collect and share
information

Level of Influence and


Interest
High Interest; Low
influence

8 http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/aug/19/corruption-india-anna-hazare

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Indias Fight Against Corruption through Website: A Case Study of I Paid A Bribe Website

2. Citizen

3. Government

4. Public
Officials
5. Civil Society

6. International
Nongovernme
ntal

Organizations
Source: Part of the

Provides information on
bribe
Receives information on
bribe and legislation
Engages in paying bribes
Participates in fighting
corruption
Receives information on
corruption
Enforce and regulates
legislation
Takes actions against
corruption
Opposes IPABs operation
Engages in corruption
Raise awareness against
corruption
Advocate for policy change
Make government
accountable
Operates anticorruption
programs
Provides funding for
anticorruption programs
Offers guidelines to
address corruption
stakeholder analysis is drawn

Low Interest; Low


influence

High Interest; High


Influence

Low Interest; Moderate


Influence
High Interest; Moderate
Influence

High Interest; moderate


Influence

from OWFI case study

(OWFI 2011).

IPABs Strategy:
IPABs core strategy is crowdsourcing information though anonymous
submission of bribe reports by citizens. IPAB collects four types of stories: I
paid a bribe, I did not pay a bribe, I met an honest officer and I dont want to

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Indias Fight Against Corruption through Website: A Case Study of I Paid A Bribe Website

pay a bribe (Bribe hotline)9. IPAB collects, compiles and analyzes data they
receive in the website, Later IPAB produce an objective and accumulative
reports and share among relevant stakeholders. In addition, IPAB prescribes
citizens and government in the matter of corruption. In their model, IPAB
went beyond exploring corruption by recognizing the honest officers.
Furthermore, IPAB produces location and department specific aggregate
data, which could be useful for policy makers to enforce stricter regulation in
specific geographic locations and government departments.
Applying IPABs Approach into Other Available Frameworks:
IPABs approach can be further analyzed putting it into existing frameworks
that are also trying to fight against corruption either directly or indirectly
under the overarching concept of good governance. In this paper, two
prominent frameworks by the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank
are used to analyze IPABs effort to address corruption, or even good
governance, effectively. Though IPABs objective is not to address these
frameworks, this paper is trying to match the scope of IPAB with these
anticorruption guidelines.
Asian Development Bank (ADB) identified four elements of good governance:
accountability, participation, predictability and transparency (ADB 1995). The

9
http://www.bu.edu/actforhealth/Presentations/Civil_Society_Political_Petty_Corruption_Ukraine_India.p
df

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Indias Fight Against Corruption through Website: A Case Study of I Paid A Bribe Website

following table attempts to analyze relevance of IPAB in addressing this


framework.
ADBS GOOD GOVERNANCE
RELEVANCE TO IPAB
FRAMEWORK
1. Accountability: This component can build capacity to hold public
officials responsible for their actions. IPABs reports also carry the same job
by revealing bribe incidents of government officials.
1A. Public Sector
IPABs reports illustrates how public sector
Management
manages its operations. IPAB provides
aggregated information of different sectors to
identify most corrupt sectors and the amount
of bribe money for respective sectors.
1B. Public Enterprise
IPABs reports will help to identify the entry
Management and Reform
level of corruption i.e. the lowest level of
officers involved in corruption. It will also
identify for which services most people pay
bribes.
1C. Public Financial
IPAB provides its users information regarding
Management
different aspects of Right to Information Act
from which citizens can ask local
administrators to provide financial
information for respective departments.
1D. Civil Service Reform
IPABs reports recognizes the inefficiency of
civil servants, which may be the result of
incompetency or greed or necessity. Each
reason can be addressed by recognizing the
root problem, e.g. incompetency means civil
service exam may be flawed, greed can be
attributed to the motivation towards money
and necessity can be referred to low salary
structure of civil servants.
2. Participation: This element can empower government to obtain
reliable information and citizen to monitor government actions. IPABs
report and analysis will provide government information on corruption of its
different sector and departments where citizens can monitor the
performance of government services.
2A. Participation of
IPAB engages a wide range of stakeholders
Beneficiaries and Affected
e.g. people who pay bribes, people who fight

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Indias Fight Against Corruption through Website: A Case Study of I Paid A Bribe Website

Groups

bribes, people who recognize an honest


officer and people who seek information on
public service. Moreover, the information is
available to everyone including bribe takers,
citizens, policy makers, and others. Every
group can participate be affected from the
information in IPAB website.
2B. Public sector/private
IPABs focus is on public service delivery so it
sector interface
may not address the boundary of private
service. However, it may address if private
business are affected due to the corruption
during licensing, tax payment etc. or itself
involved in corruption.
2C. Decentralization of
IPABs report will address if the corruption is
public and service delivery
concentrated in regional or local level of
functions
public sectors, which can provide a guideline
for transfer of power to local level if
necessary.
2D. Cooperation with
IPABs expansion to other countries and
nongovernment
presence in national level policy dialogue
organizations
complies with this subcomponent. However,
IPAB does not have any specific strategy to
coordinate with other civil society actors in
addressing
3. Predictability: This component will clarify citizens a clear idea on
available laws and regulations and inform them about consistent and
effective information. IPAB addresses this issue through providing
suggestion to its users on how to avoid bribes.
3A. Law and Enforcement
IPAB provides legal information to its users
who ask for information using bribe hotline,
which, to some extent, enhances
enforcement mechanism.
3B. Legal frameworks for
IPABs reports address the issue of corruption
private sector development regarding acquiring license for business,
access to utility, tax payment etc, which
directly addresses legal issues exist in private
sector development.
4. Transparency: This component will ensure accessibility and
affordability of relevant information. IPABs information regarding
corruption is free and available to its visitors.
4A. Disclosure of
IPABs reports make bribe incidents available
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Information

to everyone. It also recognizes the good


public service delivery by honest officers.

Even though, IPABs focus is not good governance, IPAB in above way, more
or less addresses all the ADB components of good governance.
The World Bank (WV) uses another framework to measure good governance.
The measure include six indicators and their relevance to IPABs operations
are as following:
WB Governance Indicators
1. Voice and Accountability: This
captures the perception of citizen
engagement in raising their
concerns and holding government
responsible for their actions.
2. Political Stability and Absence of
Violence: This captures perceptions
on citizens reaction to
governments violent activities.
3. Government Effectiveness: This
captures the perception on quality
of public services, civil service and
degree of independence of
government agencies and
governments legal and
enforcement commitments.
4. Regulatory Quality: This captures
the perception of governments
ability in policy formulation and
legal enforcement.

5. Rule of Law: Captures the


perception of peoples confidence in
the legal environment of a country.

Relevance to IPAB
IPAB provides a platform to the
citizen to report on corruption which
helps them to articulate their
apprehension and inform about
corruption to enforce accountability.
IPAB does not address the political
situation or information on violent
activities of the country.
IPAB captures the information of the
quality of public services through
bribe reporting. There is some
political connection to corruption in
social safety net programs, which
can also be found out from bribe
reports.
IPAB provides suggestion to its users
on existing regulations to help them
to avoid bribes. IPAB also points out
at the best working enforcement
mechanism, if it exist at all, to the
users to receive public service.
IPAB does not address this indicator
effectively as its users are the ones
who do not have trust in the
countrys legal environment and
asks for advice for best possible

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6. Control of Corruption: This


captures the perception of public
power used for corruption.

solutions. So, IPABs information will


tell only half of the story/
IPABs bribe reports elaborately
identify the misuse of public power
(corrupt officers) as well good use of
public powers (honest officers).

The above table illustrates that WB indicators are too broad for IPAB to
address. While one or two indictors can be relevant to IPAB e.g. control of
corruption and voice and accountability, the remaining indicators will not be
addressed by IPABs interventions.
IPABs Achievements:
Within few years, IPAB accumulated a large amount of data on petty
corruption. The total number of reports at IPAB website reached 44,663 by
May, 2015 and the total amount of bribe payment was 260.76 crore Indian
Rupee (USD 40.90 million) (IPAB 2015). Among the reports, 22,071 reports
were on paying bribes, 2693 were on fighting bribes and 911 were on honest
officers (IPAB 2015). According to the website, the most corrupt department
in India was police, which accounted for 17.6% of the bribe and the most
corrupt city was Bangalore, which accounted 13.7% of the reports (IPAB
2015). There was only one report on honest police officers. The traffic to IPAB
was also significant, which comprised 4.5 million visitors since its inception
to May 2015 (IPAB 2015). All the numbers indicate that the popularity and
the users of the website is increasing at a good pace.

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Indias Fight Against Corruption through Website: A Case Study of I Paid A Bribe Website

A survey by Janagraha, the implementing agency of IPAB, revealed that 36%


of the users accessed the site to read bribe reports, 27% reported about paid
bribes on the website and 34% visited the website to know how to avoid
paying bribes (Anna & Simon 2012). Moreover, the survey found that 21%
respondents avoided paying bribes using the information from IPAB website
and 65% respondents received important information on fighting bribes
(Anna & Simon 2012). Only 5% of the respondents reported that the
information did not resist them from paying bribe (Anna & Simon 2012).
In spite of IPABs success in data collection and sharing information, very
little success can be contributed to actual policy change. One such example
included when Department of Transport of government of Karnataka warned
twenty of its officials based on IPAB reports (IPAB 2012). Some changes in
operations of the motor vehicle department e.g. online application for
license, automated driving test tracks etc. took place due to IPAB reports
(Klitgaard 2012). Similarly, Department of Stamps and Registration made
some changes in land registration based on reports in the IPAB website
(Anna & Simon 2012).
IPABs Strengths:
IPABs strengths can be attribute to several areas. First, the website works as
catalyst and information hub for fostering systemic change. Second, IPAB
informs citizens about their rights and available legal mechanism to enforce
those. Third, IPAB also has strong presence in popular online social network

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platform where they inform and engage youth on the fight against
corruption. Fifth, IPAB values honesty in public services through its reports on
honest officers where almost no formal incentive available for such
performance. Sixth, people can use both internet and cell phone to access
and use the website. Seventh, the anonymous reporting protects its users
from any backlash from respective government employees and departments.
IPABS Limitations:
IPAB faces several challenges in their operation. First, the users of the
website are informed and powerful citizens, mostly urban citizens, who
know about the tool and do not feel threatened by the corrupt officials they
reported about (Wittemyer 2014). Second, the internet penetration in India is
relatively low despite the rapid increase, which makes IPAB inaccessible to a
vast group of people (Anna & Simon 2012). As of March 2014, only 68% of
Indian population resides in rural areas who do not have broadband internet
access and 3% household in India own a personal computer (Vian 2014).
Third, the platform failed to influence a significant reform in the government
(Wittemyer 2014). Fourth, the language of the website is English which
further restricts its access where majority of population do not speak English.
Fifth, the authenticity of reports is questionable due to anonymous reporting.
In addition, IPAB faced structural barrier to operate in some countries, e.g. in
China. The Chinese government shutdown the website on the ground that it

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was not registered with relevant authorities10. This raises concerns about
their operations within India as well. Sixth, IPAB does not have any
mechanism to involve public officials within their existing framework to
reflect upon the widespread bribery expressing their side of stories. Seventh,
no clear strategy to involve civil society actors are currently available within
IPABs strategy, which deprives IPABs efforts from their valuable input.
Program Implications:
As it is already stated earlier, IPAB possesses a narrow objective and intends
to work as an information generation website. However, the paper identifies
its potential to broaden their objectives and engage actively to fight against
corruption. IPAB already has developed a critical mass on anticorruption
issues and they can step forward to assume larger role in policy and ground
level. IPAB can have better impact in fighting corruption if it can adopt
following measures:

Broader Objectives: IPAB needs to broaden their objectives from being


only information hub. IPAB needs to realize that collecting information
may not reduce corruption by default. It requires better commitment to
produce effective result. IPAB needs to focus in the areas where they can

utilize the information to reduce corruption actively.


Engage with Government: IPABs one of the goals is to provide information
to government to identify bribe prone areas. But, there is no clear and

10 http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2011-06/17/content_12723800.htm

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effective mechanism in the place which will ensure that government is


using the information of IPAB website to address corruption. IPAB needs to
devise such mechanism where they can connect with governments
anticorruption initiatives to improve their performance. For an example,
IPAB can collaborate with governments anticorruption cell to produce

annual corruption statistics named the State of Corruption.


Engage with Other Civil Society Organizations: IPAB needs to collaborate
with other organizations working on anticorruption. At present, IPAB does
not have a definitive plan to collaborate with other civil society
organizations to develop joint programs or agendas where both can
enhance their effectiveness utilizing others knowledge and experience.
For an example, they can establish a network of anticorruption initiatives
where they can build capacity on different areas and expand their reach
to currently unexplored areas. They can also establish a common platform
(website) to share their information on corruption and reduce the number

of ineffective programs.
Engage Citizens: IPAB should provide an offline platform for its users and
others can participate actively in the fight against corruption. In
developing countries, consumers associations are not prominent. In this
case, IPAB can initiate a consumer association specifically for public

service.
Adopt Good Governance Approach: Corruption is a result of poor
governance system; therefore, corruption should be tackled in a
comprehensive manner. Currently, IPAB only addresses one aspect of
good governance, which cannot be solve without taking care of other
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Indias Fight Against Corruption through Website: A Case Study of I Paid A Bribe Website

aspects of good governance, i.e. legal enforcement, public sector


management, structure of civil service etc, which, in some way,
perpetuate the corruption situation in the country. Comparing with ADBs
framework, this paper identified that IPABs approach has a potential to
adopt a good governance framework and fight against corruption in a

comprehensive way.
Engage Public Servants: IPAB can include public servants within their
existing framework. Public officials are important stakeholders who are
missing from IPABs picture now. While corruption is largely due to
structural reasons, behavioral change among public official will motivate
them provide efficient service delivery. For example, IPAB can introduce
IPABs Honest Officer Award to recognize the honest officers reported by
its users.

Reference:
Asian Development Bank. (1995). Governance: Sound Development
Management. Manila: ADB.
Chene, M. (2009). Overview of Corruption and AntiCorruption Corruption
Efforts in India. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre. Retrieved from
http://www.u4.no/publications/overview-of-corruption-and-anti-corruptionefforts-in-india/
Davies, A., & Simon, J. (2012). Citizen Engagement in Social Innovation A
Case Study Report. Brussels: European Commission, DG Research. Retrieved
from http://youngfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/citizen-engagein-soc-inno.pdf
I paid a Bribe. (2012). Quarterly Report 2011-12 (Quarter 2). Bengaluru:
Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy.
I Paid A Bribe. (2015, 4 May). I Paid A Bribe. Retrieved May 4, 2015, from I
PAid A Bribe Website: http://www.ipaidabribe.com

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Indias Fight Against Corruption through Website: A Case Study of I Paid A Bribe Website

Klitgaard, R. (2012). Social Media: A New Tactic in the Fight Against


Corruption. Asian Journal of Public Affairs, 5(1), 8-12.
OneWorld Foundation India. (2011). ICT Facilitated Access to Information
Innovations: A Compendium of Case Studies from South Asia. New Delhi:
OneWorld Foundation India. Retrieved from
http://access2info.asia/Access_to_information.pdf
Transparency International. (2014). Corruption by Country/ Territory.
Retrieved May 5, 2015, from Transparency International:
http://www.transparency.org/country#IND
Vian, T. (2014). Civil Society Monitoring of Political and Petty Corruption:
Ukraine and India. WHO Technical Working Group on Good Governance in
Pharmaceutical Sector. Retrieved from
http://www.bu.edu/actforhealth/Presentations/Civil_Society_Political_Petty_Co
rruption_Ukraine_India.pdf
Wickberg, S. (2013). Technological Innovations to Identify and Reduce
Corruption. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre/ Transparency
International. Retrieved from
http://www.transparency.org/files/content/corruptionqas/376_technological_in
novations_to_identify_and_reduce_corruption.pdf

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