“Strengthening the resilience of rights-respecting democracies is one of the defining challenges of our era . . . corruption attacks the foundations of democratic institutions, drives and intensifies extremism, and makes it easier for authoritarian regimes to corrode democratic governance.” President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Transnational corruption crosses borders, leverages global networks, and employs sophisticated schemes to divert resources intended to serve the public – undermining democracy and development objectives across all sectors.
In an increasingly connected and digital world, corrupt actors exploit oversight and regulatory weaknesses at the country and regional level – as well as gaps in the global financial system – and work across jurisdictions to steal public resources, launder and hide the proceeds of corruption. Kleptocrats routinely utilize public contracting, concessions, and procurement processes for personal enrichment, while corrupt political and economic elites enrich themselves through illicit flows of high-value commodities, such as gold, wildlife, and natural resources.
At the heart of this challenge are weak regulatory and legal frameworks, opaque financial and business operating environments, poor governance and financial oversight capacities, a lack of adequate and fully independent oversight and accountability measures, and captured or compromised justice sector and enforcement efforts. These weaknesses leave countries vulnerable to exploitation and capture by corrupt actors, including those operating across and within high-risk sectors.
As the cornerstone of USAID’s suite of new and innovative programming to tackle transnational corruption, announced as part of the Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal, and as directly referenced in Strategic Objective 3.4 of the U.S. Strategy on Countering Corruption - the Global Accountability Program (GAP) will strengthen the capacity within countries and regions to counter transnational corruption, grand corruption, and kleptocracy, including by strengthening country and multi-country prevention, detection, oversight and accountability systems, and by enhancing international cooperation and collaboration.
The first Activity under GAP - the GAP/Strengthening National Architectures (GAP/SNA) to Counter Corruption Activity - will enhance systems and capacity to prevent, detect, investigate and disrupt transnational corruption, grand corruption, and kleptocracy - including as it manifests across regions and high-risk sectors – and build resilience to corruption. At the global, bilateral, and multi - country levels -- as well as across sectors - GAP/SNA will:
Improve the anti-corruption prevention environment - including internal controls, public procurement and licensing, public financial management, fiscal transparency and open government;
Enhance legal and regulatory frameworks, including those related to beneficial ownership; real estate, financial, contract, procurement, and tax transparency; implementation of global anti-corruption commitments; and whistleblowing, disclosure, and reporting;
Bolster financial detection, oversight and disruption capacities, including the work of Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs), financial task teams and investigation units, and other detection and oversight actors; and
Strengthen implementation of anti-corruption enforcement and accountability measures.
GAP/SNA partners with USAID missions, bureaus, and other donors to:
Deliver high-impact country-level assistance that builds the resilience of institutions to kleptocracy and strategic corruption, and systemically tackles pervasive governance weaknesses that corrupt actors exploit;
Explore and expand efforts to counter corruption across high-risk, high-opportunity sectors (such as real estate, extractives, infrastructure or pharmaceuticals);
Fund groundbreaking multi-country work to enhance international cooperation and galvanize collective action in rooting out and blocking transnational corruption; and
Launch global efforts to identify and test promising and cutting-edge practices, tools, and approaches to move anti-corruption practice forward.