Policies, process and procedures
The first step towards defining corruption is actually identifying it. Clear policies, process and procedures (PPP) have to be in place. Those PPPs could be identified using standardized systems such as the ISO, internal charters, or a simple code of ethics. Training and development has to be integrated in order to introduce those PPPs and identify best practices. A famous Egyptian saying “Draw me a line and I’ll follow it”, explains it all. Do not expect the people to follow a system when there is no clear system in place.
One thing we’re not short of in Egypt is Audits. We have a number of monitoring layers and bodies. Such bureaucracies burdens the system and create varying and often opposing standards. After the creation of PPPs for each administration, industry, or organization the responsibility of auditing the compliance of such standards should be delegated to a single body (could be different for each organization), with clear penalties in place, including legal actions.
Most service oriented institutions use what is known as a “Mystery Guest”. A mystery guest is a regular guest in every single aspect., except for one thing, he/she is an experienced guest, who is paid to rate and monitor the service provided. Such a guest would follow a pre-determined check list in order to determine whether the procedures were made in accordance to the standards. The beauty of such a tool is that the person providing the service doesn’t know whether he’s being audited or not, which means that he/she must follow the standards at all times, since the audits are hidden and random.
Why not legal bribes? Lets generalize what Mr. Mahgoub did in Alexandria. Lets get into each institution, get with our “bribe champions,” find out which services people are willing to bribe for, and set premiums for those services. For example, people are willing to pay a bribe to speed up certain processes so set a premium for speedy services, and setup a specialized office for that. This would definitely cause an outcry of discrimination. For that reason, it should only be used in investment/business services, and avoided in any public or social service.
The internet is becoming a much more active mode of communication. Think of all those user-generated sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, and Youtube. The new thought of Mass-Intelligence can be a powerful weapon against corruption if utilized correctly. Think of how many bribe cases would be caught if we create a page on Youtube that invites users to submit videos of bribe incidents. The magnitude of the effect is far more important than the actual caught incidents, the true leverage comes from the avoided incidents of those who feel watched.
Check the growth rates of newly developed private media and compare them to the national giants and you will find a huge gap. Our national media giants are dying, they lost credibility, and they failed in doing at their jobs of being the watchful eye of our nation. Selling those giants will definitely provide financial resources that can be used more efficiently. The privatization of those media giants will lead to more effective monitoring of the government and better initiation of public debates.