Understanding Administrative Corruption

Questions have been raised on what is the meaning of Administrative Corruption?

Firstly, defining administrative corruption is not a modest task. However, there is agreement about the idea that corruption crosses legal systems, history, and cultures.

Here we provide an explanation on its definition;

Imagine this scenario; a village needs to have a water system in their village to supplement them during the long dry seasons, they have always relied on water tanks, which are, unreliable when dry weather lasts for more than 2 months.

They draw up a request and approach the Provincial Water Officer who assists them to look for fund support.

It is not long before they receive news that their application is successful. The fund for the first stage of the project arrives and the villagers begin clearing up the site for the water system. After they have finished clearing the site they send back a report to the authority concern and wait for the stage two funds.

But the days turn to weeks, then the weeks to months and yet no funding has arrived. Natural vegetation slowly claims back the cleared location of the project until it looks as if the land had never been cleared at all.

And as the years go by nothing has arrived. Gradually, the promises become myths, trusting a leader becomes an issue and participatory voting has decreased.

Coincidently, the shortage of clean drinking water throughout the dry seasons is getting worse, water borne diseases are a constant threat and more and more of the community’s young people are moving to Luganville and Port Vila for employment opportunities and better services.

But for the Provincial Water Officer, his life has been luxurious. He bought a truck and owns several shops, he gained political favor and moved higher on the salary chain. Eventually he becomes the overall supervisor of the country’s Rural Water Department and slowly, one by one, community water projects began to fail across the country while he grew wealthier. He has pocketed water funds as his own and used it towards his own interests.

This is Administrative Corruption. It is the abuse of power for private gain.

The widespread interest at the international and national level in fighting administrative corruption is severely connected with the idea that it produces many negative effects, falsifies and deteriorates public institutions.

Transparency International Vanuatu is against corruption in all its forms. During an anti – corruption workshop that was held recently in Port Vila ‘Administrative Corruption’ was identified as one of the most serious type of corrupt activity that had to be dealt with.

The administrative level is an area where corrupt behavior can be costly. Hundreds of millions of vatu can be diverted to a private account with just a signature, and development projects can be diverted simply because of favorism or by the wantok system, or because someone or a group of people within the administration see their personal benefits in this diversion.

Over the years Vanuatu has witnessed failed projects, broken promises and reports of alleged favorism in the management of projects.

Vanuatu is not alone in this activity, investigations and publications by Transparency International have revealed that administrative corruption is universal.

So can you fight against administrative corruption?  YES!   How?

The Encyclopedia of Law and Economics explains that “preventing corruption needs a tool – box: good quality regulation, also when regulation determines sanctions; controls, which should be sustainable and informed t deterrence and planning’ administrative reforms, in order to reduce monopoly and discretionary powers, to strengthen the Civil Service and to ensure transparency and information”.

Additionally, during the Civil Society Anti-Corruption Workshop, held in Port Vila in May of this year, organized by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Code of Ethics for Administrative Officers is one of the most effective tools that can be utilized to discourage administrative corruption.

The Code of Ethics is a set of rules or understandings that differentiates what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’ in the workplace, and it is the responsibility of the workers to apply this understandings in their decisions.

There are other ways that individuals can use to fight corruption especially in the administrative sector of their workplace, in late 2015 an individual put out a complaint on a senior provincial government who worked in the administration sector for selling, for personal profit, TC Pam relief supplies. These are courageous individuals unusually knowns as ‘whistleblowers’, they are people who have morally decided to expose the unjust and corrupt practices at their places of work. Anyone can become a whistleblower, it needs courage and bravery, and the vision for the greater good.

There has been instances where workers in the administration sector were convicted for corruption. For instance, during the Presidency of Ronald Reagan in the United States (1981-1989) over 138 administration officials over 139 administration officials were convicted of corruption.

More examples; in Iraq several judges were convicted with administration corruption in 2013. In Fiji a Senior Hydrologist of the Public Works Department was convicted of official corruption, which is similar to administrative corruption, he took benefits from employees so that he could show them favor in his decisions later. The judge who presided over the cases described administrative corruption as “a cancer to the society”.

Overall, administration corruption is considered as a serious form of corruption because it is the selfish act of using public power for personal benefit. Fortunately, this corrupt act can be challenged by through legal means and by ordinary people from all walks of life.

Transparency International Vanuatu is committed to educating the Vanuatu society on the different forms of corruption that exists in Vanuatu and how society can fight back.

For any information regarding our work and our awareness programs on corruption please contacts us Tel: 25715 or email us at transparency@vanuatu.com.vu, we are also on facebook.


  1. http://www.paclii.org/cgi-bin/sinodisp/fj/cases/FJHC/2010/354.html?stem=&synonyms=&query=corruption
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reagan_administration_scandals
  3. https://tivnews.wordpress.com/2016/06/09/the-important-role-of-whistleblowers/
  4. http://onlykashmir.in/corruption-syndrome-jk-govt-to-terminate-51-top-officials/

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