| 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
P@C is an innovative way to expose corruption by using text (SMS). Effectively, this offers powerful voice to citizens to report corruption anonymously using mobile phones to lodge complaints by sending SMS.
The SMS System: Developed using providers - Mobimedia/Digicel for Technology, UNDP for assistance, DFAT for Funding, VSO for Human Resource, Department of Finance for support. The system is subject to continuous improvement driven by user experience research and alternative ways to expose corruption as complementary approach. To date web portal is developed www.phonesagainstcorruption.org
The Awareness Campaign: Involves publicity and awareness to inform citizens about availability of application and as to it being cost free, user friendly and anonymous. During prototyping phase it has been managed according to the target group. When extended to all citizens, the use of all available media will be prioritized.
The Actions taken: Involves the follow up mechanism of SMS reports and initiation of action; gathering and analysing the messages after subjecting the data through a process of filtering, scrutiny and prioritisation. The cases are classified by priority into High, Medium and Low. All cases are investigated after due diligence process, without any fear or favour and with utmost secrecy and confidentiality.
| 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
AusDFAT is funding a Financial Management Improvement Program called Provincial Capacity Building (PCaB) under the technical guidance of UNDP PNG and is being implemented by the Department of Finance. The P@C program is a sub component of the PCaB program aimed at reducing corruption and improving governance, accountability and transparency.
Initially, the program is implemented as a pilot within the Department of Finance in mid 2014 and all staff of the Department were encouraged to report any type of abuse of power or corruption. As the staff know that they could report and yet remain anonymous, the program gained their trust and acceptance and SMS reports started coming in and this helped the Department of Finance to identify gaps in governance and take suitable remedial measures to plug them. The various anti-corruption initiatives adopted by the Department including this program have resulted in the repeal of the Public Finance Management Act in 2016 that became effective from Jan 01, 2017.
The program targeted the Department of Finance Staff across PNG numbering around 1,500 in 2014 and benefitted all citizens that were receiving delivery of services through the Department. Now in 2017 the program wants to progressively target 110,000 staff in PNG public service and will benefit all citizens receiving any type of delivery of services or benefit from any public investment targeted at making life better for the citizens.
| 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The innovative idea originated consequent to a request from the Secretary of the Department of Finance to address the concerns being raised in various public discourse forums as to what steps GoPNG was taking to tackle corruption. GoPNG efforts to improve public accountability date back to September 1999 when ADB first considered a proposal from GoPNG to fund a Financial Management System to address concerns related to transparency and accountability of Public Expenditure and Budgeting. However, in September 2010, ADB released a completion report titled “PNG-Financial Management-Project” stating that despite a total project spending of USD 60.309 million by September 2008 the project did not deliver any significant gains.
The Department of Finance had expected the Financial Management Improvement Program embarked upon with the assistance of ADB Loan and AusDFAT Donor Funding to deliver significant financial accountability. As the benefits from the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) were being delayed due to implementation issues, the Department felt that it needed to take other measures to tackle abuse of power, graft and corruption. One significant measure was signing up for “Better than cash alliance” and deciding to accept all payments into government treasury only through Bank. The other was to pilot the “Phones Against Corruption” P@C initiative within Department of Finance. P@C is based on theories of Action Research and Participatory Process and seeks active participation of society in helping PNG government become transparent and accountable. The Department also realizes that this participatory process mechanism works as long as the Department is able to uphold the trust of the citizens by addressing the issues raised by them and communicate back to them the actions taken and show results of such actions.
Once the Department realized this need, then the challenge was to find a way to engage directly with people. This is where the mobile telephony technology has become a boon. Since PNG had issues with digital connectivity, smart phone penetration and user abilities, the decision was to go for simple text messaging systems.
P@C system in a nutshell
An interactive text messaging system
Not a mobile application and hence needs no downloading
No internet access required
Can be accessed free of cost
Is anonymous as the technology partner Mobimedia encrypts the phone numbers.
Runs on any basic mobile phone (no need of a smart phone)
Is user friendly
Is available in TokPisin and English
The messages received are encrypted to protect identity, recorded, analysed and action taken. As with all systems, improvements are always possible to make the application robust and the Department of Finance is constantly trying its best to incorporate new ideas.
Dr. Amanda Watson conducted research on Phones Against Corruption and her paper is published in Discussion Paper Series produced through Australian National University. Three important findings were that P@C was easy to use, quick to respond and intent to use it again.
The initiative was conceived to be part of Provincial Capacity Building and was taken up by GoPNG under technical guidance of UNDP assisted by Mobimedia/Digicel/VSO and funded by AusDFAT. The P@C Initiative has been recognised with awards by UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia-Pacific’s Innovation Fund Competition for Best Innovative Approach in the Asia Pacific Region and awarded USD 25,000 in 2014 and 2015 for Prototyping and Scaling up. GoPNG/AusDFAT/UNDP combined have utilized human/financial resources to the tune of well over USD 250,000/- since July 2014.
*Foot Note - Asian Development Bank Project No. 30535 & Loan No.1703 for PNG-Financial Management Program: Completion Report issued in September 30, 2010 and Validation Report Reference No. PCV: PNG 2011-30 issued in October, 2011.
*Foot Note - Dr. Amanda H Watson’s paper can be accessed at http://ssgm.bellschool.anu.edu.au/sites/default/files/publications/attachments/2016-09/dp_2016_5_watson_and_wiltshire.pdf
| 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
Corruption and abuse of public funds is a development challenge that can hinder the ability of the public service to deliver vital services to citizens. PNG has realized that Citizen Participation is its best chance to fight corruption as it hinders development and adversely affects the quality of life and the living standards of citizens, especially the underprivileged masses.
PNG rates very poorly on a number of world indicators and for it to improve its ratings it has to fight corruption and Phones Against Corruption is an innovative initiative that is helping GoPNG. The stakeholders involved are:
1. GoPNG Department of Finance
2. UNDP PNG
3. Australian DFAT
The team leading the innovation includes development and technology experts, committed officers from Department of Finance/UNDP and Program Staff from AusDFAT. Other partner organisations include Mobimedia, Digicel, VSO and when required or necessary professionals from various supporting organisations.
The following people contributed to the design and/or implementation of the initiative:
1. Dr. Ken Ngangan, CPA Secretary, Department of Finance GoPNG
2. Mr. Sam Erepan National Program Coordinator UNDP/DFAT PCaBE
3. Mr. Tito Balboa Zegarra Chief Technical Adviser UNDP/DFAT PCaBE
4. Dr. Cameron Jackson Mobimedia Pty Ltd Private Sector
5. Mr. Tess Wingi First Assistant Secretary, IACD GoPNG
6. Mr. Tom Tiki Assistant Secretary, IACD-DoF GoPNG
7. Ms Naomi Kivi Audit Officer GoPNG
8. Dr. Amanda H Watson Researcher Academician
9. Ramya Gopalan Knowledge Management UNDP RBAP
10. Malika Bhandarkar Innovation Facility Coordinator UNDP HQ NY
11. Maya Shankar Behavioral Insights Team New York, USA
12. Lori Foster Behavioral Insights Team New York, USA
13. Ms Julie Bukikun Head of Governance UNDP PNG
14. Mr. Hisashi Izumi Assistant Resident Representative UNDP PNG
15. Mr. Roy Trivedy Resident Representative UNDP PNG
16. Mr. Appala Saripalli, CPA VSO Volunteer UNDP/DFAT PCaBE
| 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
P@C program aims to specifically address SDG 16 – “Promote peaceful and inclusive ….. institutions at all levels”. Corruption hinders development process and good governance practices of transparency and accountability. As a result, public funds budgeted to be applied to address other life basic SDGs 1 to 8 are not utilized in full for the purposes for which they are disbursed. A significant part of public funds is lost to corruption. This adversely affects the quality of services delivered to the citizens or in some cases the services are not delivered at all. The acts of corruption destroy the fabric of society and citizens tend to lose faith. When corruption is effectively tackled, it improves the last mile service delivery in areas such as livelihoods, health, education, infrastructure & utilities, gender & youth development etc. This results in improving the living standards and quality of life of the citizens at the bottom of the pyramid and in turn helps improve their individual productivity leading to growth at the micro level. All such micro level growths eventually contribute to national economic growth.
The following outputs indicate that the programs of GoPNG to fight corruption are effective:
1. PNG has been ranked 136 out of 176 countries on the 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), a slight improvement from previous years – with PNG ranking 145 out of 174 in the 2014 CPI as a result of the fight against corruption.
2. The DoF 323 valid complaints and 77 cases were identified for investigation. 17 cases where investigations were completed resulted in detection of corruption of over 7.50 million Kina. 5 Cases were filed out of the 17 and 2 judgements were handed down for USD 2 Million.
3. In order to devolve power to provinces funds were disbursed to local governments to enable them to design, develop and deliver programs at the provinces. The P@C program helped GoPNG in good governance as citizen participation ensured that complaints of corruption from various provinces relating to abuse were reported.
4. GoPNG has a number of Public Investment Programs across PNG targeting vital infrastructure in Health, Education, Transportation (air/sea/land), Public Works, Communication, Law & Order, Gender, Governance etc. Corruption affects the quality of the infrastructure and the program has been helpful in bringing about transparency and accountability by reporting abuse.
5. The program builds empowers the society by building trust and confidence.
*Foot Note - Transparency International PNG: http://www.transparencypng.org.pg/newsroom/view/2014-corruption-perceptions-index-offers-a-reminder-and-a-warning-that-abus).
| 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The delays to envisaged implementation of Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) to allow GoPNG plan, budget, control and monitor public expenditures necessitated the Department of Finance (DoF) to look for alternative means of securing reports of abuse of power or corruption. The old system of physical complaint boxes did not appeal to the public as they were sceptical to use them because of the fear of being identified.
1. Anonymity - DoF by deciding to use mobile phones and seek reports by SMS and creating awareness that the identity of the callers was going to remain anonymous because of encrypting of numbers being done by Mobimedia ensured willing participation of staff/citizens.
2. Telephony & Penetration – DoF realized that smart phone penetration was low especially in rural areas and that people were used to the ordinary mobile phones. Hence by deciding to model the initiative using SMS text, DoF made sure that the tool was made available to all free of charge and hence inclusive.
3. Overcoming the “Wantok” system – By maintaining confidentiality and anonymity, the program was able to overcome the Wantok system as those who report need not fear retribution.
4. Creating awareness – DoF staff were made aware as to how the system would be effective in helping them make public officers accountable and in doing so improve service delivery. This helped in enabling them to embrace the change and report abuse of power without fear.
5. Feedback mechanism – Finally DoF realized from a survey of the respondents that they wanted a built in feedback mechanism to indicate to them statistics of how many complaints were lodged and what actions have been taken in relation thereto. It was then decided to add the feedback SMS at end of every SMS received. This feedback helped build trust and confidence.