Corruption and quality of public service are unavoidably and reciprocally interlinked. An institution’s internal culture, evident in internal controls, reflects its kind of service to external clients.
Internal controls are dynamic integral processes that should continuously adapt to the changes an organization faces because graft mutates like any other societal menace.
Creating and implementing internal controls in line with Section 9 of the Bribery Act (2016) can help institutions. Both private and public institutions should act by putting up procedures and processes appropriate to their operation’s size, scale, and nature to prevent bribery and corruption.
Internal control mechanisms deter fraud, corruption, conflict of interest, waste and abuse. Value-for-money and corruption risks assessments are internal to ensure compliance with laws, regulations and policies. Employee performance may increase with good controls. Section 9 (3) of the Bribery Act mandates the anti-graft agency to help private entities and individuals to fight corruption because the private sector is often the supply side of bribes to the demand side of public service.
Internal controls should not only be thought of in financial statements, government or commercial market activities. Internal controls should be a universal requirement because even criminal enterprises typically have lethal internal controls to prevent their illicit products, information or ill-gotten gains from leaking.
Lead individuals within entities should not sit pretty and wait for external stakeholders to guide them on how to fight corruption. Leadership within must always initiate anti-graft action. Written policies, charters and procedures and codes of conduct should always communicate the organisation’s values to stakeholders, including the public. Ideally suited for success, internal control systems should be focused on mitigating corruption risks because corruption is a real-world phenomenon that cannot be solved by formal rules alone.
Controls should always be dynamic, like passwords or locks on doors to more complex real-time analytic accountability mechanisms that can delve deeper and find what is going on.
Controls that gather and disseminate information can help to detect potential corruption. Whistleblowing and reporting methods can give clues for inquiry or data that might not otherwise be known to law enforcement. Gathering information as part of a control system drives data analytic approaches that can lead to a potential trigger to delve deeper and discover what is going on.
Penalties for wrongdoing revealed from controls should be responsive with a ‘lessons learnt’ forum for reviews. Through ongoing internal training programs, top management should ensure that employees are constantly apprised of industry trends and new regulations. Organizations should not wait for an external solution to fight graft within.
Daily Nation Dr. Kevin Omai (PhD) is an anti-corruption crusader and governance consultant.