CIVICS 101: ROOTING OUT THE GRAFT

* In September 1993, politicians, lawyers, bureaucrats, public activists, business people, and accountants from 18 countries in Central and South America gathered in Quito, Ecuador to attend a workshop funded by the United States Agency for International Development entitled ``Democracy versus Corruption''.

Participants developed a variety of suggestions for controlling corruption, including:

* Setting up a presidentially-appointed anticorruption ``czar'' or commission to coordinate investigations, reforms, and public-education programs.

* Promoting a public employee code of conduct, starting at presidential and ministerial levels.

* Sponsoring a media campaign against corruption, with hot lines for citizens to report possible acts of corruption.

* Promoting a private sector initiative to set standards for government contracts, bidding procedures, and such.

* Establishing citizen-oversight boards comprised of lawyers, public accountants, labor union members, businessmen, and homemakers to review the activities of particular ministries. Funding would be sought from international institutions such as the World Bank.

* Making a list of the 500 most important officials in government and monitoring their incomes. Going after the ``big fish'' would help change the public's cynicism and politician's culture of impunity.

* Creating financial rewards for public employees who discover inefficiencies or make their offices more efficient.

* Making a list of all public works projects by location and providing details of each project (estimated costs, schedule) to neighborhood groups, trade unions, and other civic groups.

* Requiring an independent audit of government spending each year.

* Setting limits on campaign donations and spending, or requiring campaigns to be financed by the state. Public audits of all campaign spending could also be required.

* Making constitutional reforms that fortify the powers of the offices of the attorneys general and state controllers.

* Creating an independent judiciary and providing better training and pay for judges.

* Adding ethics studies to school curricula and offering ethics seminars for community leaders.

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