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Reporting Corruption from within Papua New Guinea's Public Financial Management System

CollectionsANU Department of Pacifc Affairs (DPA) formerly State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) Program
Title: Reporting Corruption from within Papua New Guinea's Public Financial Management System
Author(s): Watson, Amanda H. A.
Wiltshire, Colin
Date published: 2016
Publisher: Canberra, ACT : State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM), Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University
Series/Report no.: State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) discussion paper series: 2016/5
For Papua New Guinea (PNG) to achieve its development aspirations, effective utilisation of public expenditure is essential. However, significant weaknesses exist in its decentralised political, fiscal and administrative arrangements, which open up spaces for corruption. This paper explores the potential of technology-based corruption reporting in the midst of substantial fiscal and logistical pressures. The research was designed to be of practical assistance to those with an interest in innovative uses of technology, while also contributing to broader debates about the potential strategic use of mobile telephony in developing countries. As widespread mobile phone networks are relatively new in the Pacific region, the findings presented are the first to explore mobile phone use for corruption reporting in any detail, which helps to fill gaps in the literature regarding potential future opportunities. In PNG, public officials responsible for administering funds have lacked anonymous and accessible ways to report corrupt practices. In response, the PNG Department of Finance, with support from the Australian Government and the United Nations Development Program, has established a way for public officials working in the public financial management system to anonymously report cases of corruption through a mobile phone text messaging service. All reported cases are referred to the Internal Audit and Compliance Division in the Department of Finance for further investigation, in collaboration with relevant state authorities. This paper reports on this innovative approach to expand corruption reporting practices in PNG based on the experiences of public officials using this new reporting mechanism. Overall, the findings show that the service has been well utilised, with hundreds of ongoing investigations and several arrests. However, it is argued here that while the project is proving to be successful, its expansion should be very carefully and cautiously planned. The current context of PNG’s public financial management system is explained first, before the project is introduced. The paper presents the research design and findings, followed by a discussion of practical recommendations and implications for the domains of policy and theory. Finally, the conclusion presents suggestions for further research.
ISSN: 1328-7854


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