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Why this site?

This website has been conceived and set up by Mark Pyman.  From his experience of working in two of the toughest environments for corruption – as the Programme Director for Transparency International in tackling corruption in the military and Defence Ministries worldwide 2004-2015; and in Afghanistan, as one of the three international Anti-Corruption Commissioners 2015-2017 – he came to believe that much more progress against corruption is possible.

Working with militaries and Defence Ministries in country after country, Mark was struck how senior officials and senior officers were open about their participation in corrupt or questionable practice. They knew very well the political constraints on what they could do, but many were nonetheless taking small actions to reduce the corruption. They knew how deeply corruption went against the ethos of military leadership, and many were ashamed. Their question – almost every time – was ‘What do you suggest I could best do, and where do I find the necessary knowledge?’ For many, finding that defence-specific anti-corruption knowledge existed was like finding water in the desert.

In Kabul, Mark was astonished at how some of the most imaginative anti-corruption solutions – impressive even by developed world standards – were emerging out of this unpromising soil. But at the same time he was horrified to discover that the world’s anti-corruption knowledge in almost every sector – from education to telecommunications – was poorly organised and, where it even existed, difficult to access. Worse, he found that many international sector specialists avoided the subject of corruption, perhaps because of the risk that they would lose funding.

Having discussed this gap in sector knowledge with many people and in blogs (see here and here), Mark felt he could help  by starting a new website: one that public officials and politicians would feel was for them, containing knowledge and reform experience specific to their sector. Many people share this vision and are contributing to help him make CurbingCorruption into a practical, useful reality.

Join us! Contribute your experience, benefit from sector networks, add new knowledge to the website. The website is open to all.

Who is our target audience?

Public officials, politicians and others who operate the machinery of government 

We have developed this website to appeal widely to people who want to take action to reduce corruption within their sector of society, and/or within their organisation. This includes Members of Parliament, the private sector, civil society organisations, professional associations, the media and the judiciary.

Nonetheless, the website is oriented towards two groups more than others: 1) public officials within government or related agencies who wish to develop initiatives, or who have been charged with doing this, and are not sure how to proceed; and 2) politicians, whether in government or in opposition, looking how to develop and implement anti-corruption initiatives within their sphere of responsibility.

We believe that action by public officials and politicians, working within their individual sectors, is the most sustainable route to reducing corruption.

Our vision

Public officials, politicians and others being more effective against corruption, sector by sector

Our vision is that corruption can be addressed and reduced better than people realise. Even in the toughest corruption environments, where progress may only be possible in tiny steps, there are many improvement measures that can help, and which can form the basis of a much larger improvement when circumstances change.

We believe that there are two key components to doing this. First, enabling public officials and politicians to develop counter-corruption initiatives.  At present, only a very small proportion of people in these positions have knowledge or experience of ways to tackle corruption. Public officials, because they operate the machinery of government, are in perhaps the best position to enable sustainable reforms and to collaborate with politicians, civil society, corporate stakeholders and others.

Second, building up knowledge, insights and experience at sector level. At present, most anti-corruption knowledge is at the national, cross-government level, which is broad and complex. At sector level, whether public service delivery sectors like health or economic sectors like telecommunications, there is both more knowledge and more ownership from those working in the sector. This increases the chances of success whether for small initiatives, such as within a department, or large ones, such as across a whole agency or ministry.

This is a practical vision, not an idealistic one. We hope you share this vision too, and we invite you to work with CurbingCorruption to help its implementation.

Our plan

Website users networking & contributing; a Wikipedia of shared knowledge; building to forty sectors

Here is what we are doing and what we hope for:

  1. We provide a straightforward, practical approach that people who are working on anti-corruption initiatives can use, even though they themselves may have no in-depth knowledge;
  2. We research every sector to find what is known about tackling corruption in that sector and to collate reform experiences. Eleven sectors have been covered so far and we will put many of the other sectors out on CurbingCorruption in the coming months.  We are open to people wishing to be co-authors who can help us to research and write the reviews that are not yet written.
  3. We encourage all users of the site to ‘Ask and connect’. We encourage you to identify other people in the sector, from whatever country, and ask them for ideas or advice for their situation. It may be that we ourselves can help, by acting as one node of a network of such people, and by offering ideas.
  4. We ask all users of the site to’ Contribute’. Tell us of examples, cases or reports that they know of that we have not mentioned; help us improve the website by proposing edits; and add short reports on your experience, in simple rather than academic language. We have only started our work – so we welcome readers improving and developing our content.
  5. We want the website to grow and be managed by groups of site users, sector by sector, who will collaboratively contribute, edit and manage content.

Focus on sectors

Reducing corruption sector by sector; getting to the necessary detail & the context

By sectors, we mean the structures and functions through which national life operates. ‘Structures’ includes the legislature, the judiciary and the civil service. ‘Functions’ includes public sector functions like the health sector, economic functions like the construction industry, and the multiple public-private systems that span both public and private, like sport. Whilst we recognise that national-level reforms have their place, we are convinced that more success will be achieved against corruption by working sector by sector.

Our experience is that the differences between sectors are large and significant, often bigger than between countries. Many of the particular corruption types in a sector are specific to that sector (e.g. the various pharmaceutical-related corruption types within health). Even when a corruption type is common across sectors, such as the corrupt diversion of salaries from the ministry to the worker, the ways that this happens and the ways that it can be stopped can be very different from one sector to another. Sector knowledge also transcends national boundaries: medical staff in one country may well have knowledge that is helpful in another; and transnational initiatives to solve sector-specific corruption problems now exist, such as in education, in mineral extraction, in defence and in shipping.

We bring together the knowledge on the detailed types of corruption in each sector, worldwide reform experiences and possible reform strategies for that sector, and the state of international action on corruption in the sector.

Fitting into national strategies

It is increasingly common to see nation-level anti-corruption strategies. However, the older versions of such strategies tend to be focused only at national level, and do not include sector-level strategies for the high-risk sectors. If possible, do ensure that your sector strategies form part of the overall national one.

There are, of course, important anti-corruption tasks not only at sector level but also at the whole-of-government level. Examples include national anti-corruption strategies, the criminal prosecution system and ethics in the cvil service. Strategies such as establishing integrity frameworks more naturally operate at this level.

Equally, there are other international types of non-sector corruption, such as beneficial ownership transparency and the recovery of stolen assets. You can follow up these important initiatives elsewhere.

The CurbingCorruption team

Mark Pyman

Mark Pyman is an experienced anti-corruption professional. From 2015 through 2017, he was one of three International Committee Members on the Afghanistan independent Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee. Established by the President of Afghanistan, the Committee – known as the ‘MEC’ – comprises 6 people, three well-respected Afghans and three internationally known anti-corruption experts, supported by a supporting secretariat of 25 professionals in Kabul. They monitor what is going right and wrong in anti-corruption efforts in the country, carry out detailed analyses of the corruption issues, and press for change. More detail can be found here.

From 2004 to 2015, he founded and then led the global Defence and Security programme at the NGO Transparency International. This large, ground-breaking programme works on tackling the ways that corruption undermines security and military forces in countries. He led the team’s field work in over 30 countries, including Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Latvia, Lebanon, Norway, Palestine, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, UK and the USA; and pioneered detailed, comparative analyses of the defence corruption risks of some 130 countries.

His work was instrumental in shaping the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (2013), in influencing NATO policy and operations in respect of counter-corruption, in shaping the military doctrine of several countries, and in policy forums such as the Munich Security Conference.

From 1985 to 2003, he was a senior executive at Shell International. He was Chief Financial Officer of Shell companies in West Africa (Gabon), China, Taiwan and South Korea. Other senior roles included Director of major change programmes for Shell across Europe, leading a transformation team of 700, and manager of Shell’s investor relations with the City of London. From 1981-1985, he was one of the founders of the market-leading technical risk consultancy ‘Technica’.

He holds a PhD from the University of Western Australia, an MSc from Bath University and a first-class honours degree from Birmingham University. He has authored or supervised many blogs and some seventy publications on tackling corruption.


Paul Heywood. Professor Paul Heywood PhD, FRSA, FAcSS holds the Sir Francis Hill Chair of European Politics in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham, UK.  Prior to taking up his Chair in 1995, he taught at the University of Glasgow and Queen Mary College, London.  He studied at the University of Edinburgh and did his doctorate at the London School of Economics.

His research focuses on political corruption, institutional design and state capacity, and he is author, co-author or editor of eighteen books and more than eighty journal articles and book chapters. Recent funded research includes an ESRC/Hong Kong project on Integrity Management in the UK, HK and China; an EU FP7 project, ANTICORRP, on anti-corruption policies; and TACOD ,an EU project on tackling corruption through open data.  He served at the EU DG Home Affairs UK expert on corruption (2012-16), contributing to the 2014 EU Anti-Corruption Report.

Professor Heywood was leader of a £3.6m British Academy/DFID Anti-Corruption Evidence programme (2015-18), designed to identify new initiatives that can help developing countries tackle the scourge of corruption and the negative impact it has on millions of people’s lives.  He is a Trustee of Transparency International UK, where he chairs the Advocacy and Research Committee.  Professor Heywood is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (2002), a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (2012), and a Fellow of Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (2013).

Michelle Man. Michelle Man is a strategy consultant working in the third sector. Her experience spans the public, private and third sectors, and she has specific expertise in international financial crime risk, electoral policy and democratic processes, education policy, and social mobility. She has a master’s degree in international relations and anti-corruption strategies, and previously led Transparency International’s work on corruption in the defence industry.

Tom Shipley. Tom is a PhD researcher at the Sussex Centre for the Study of Corruption, where he is undertaking a comparative study of anti-corruption reforms and strategies in four states in Nigeria. He began his career in anti-corruption with the Transparency International defence and security programme. He subsequently held positions focused on anti-corruption in the private sector, at the consultancy Control Risks and then at CDC Group, the UK development finance institute. He is an expert contributor to the Transparency International U4 Helpdesk and the Global Integrity Africa Integrity Index.

Authors and contributors

The originating author for each of the sector reviews and the guidance reviews are noted in the table below, together with people who have made additional contributions. We are also seeking co-authors for the new reviews and curators for each of the sector material.

  Sector Originating author and Co-authors   Organisation  Contributors
1 Construction, public works and infrastructure Mark Pyman CurbingCorruption Peter Mathews; Neill Stansbury, Hamish Goldie-Scott; John Bray.
2 Education  Mark Pyman CurbingCorruption Ian Kaplan
3 Fisheries Mat Tromme Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law Mark Pyman
4 Health Mark Pyman CurbingCorruption  Rich Feely; Sarah Steingrüber; Taryn Vian
5 Higher Education Monica Kirya Senior analyst at U4
6 Land Tom Shipley PhD Candidate
7 Police Services and Law Enforcement Agencies Mark Pyman CurbingCorruption Paulo Costa; Wilf Dunne
8 Prison services Katie Fish Mark Pyman; Phil Wheatley.
9 Private Sector Tom Shipley PhD Candidate Mark Pyman; John Bray
10 Shipping Mark Pyman CurbingCorruption Eléonore de la Bache
11 Sub-National Government Mark Pyman CurbingCorruption Alan Doig; Dessi Hristova
Coming next:
12 Agriculture
13 Aid and humanitarian assistance
14 Banking and Finance
15 Borders
16 Civil Service Paul Heywood University of Nottingham
17 Civil society and media
18 Commodities trading
19 Consumer Goods
20 Customs
21 Defence & Military Mark Pyman CurbingCorruption
22 Elections and politics
23 Electricity and energy
24 Financial Services & regulation
25 Forestry
26 Heavy engineering
27 Judiciary & Criminal justice system
28 Legislature & Parliament
26 Mining, Oil & Gas Andrea Shaw
29 Other industries
30 Property
31 Public Finance Management & Tax
32 Public Procurement
33 Religious affairs and Haj
34 Sport
35 State-owned enterprises (SOE)
36 Telecommunications
37 Tourism, heritage and culture
38 Transport
39 Water
40 Wildlife/conservation
  Five-step Guidance Originating author and Co-authors   Organisation   Contributors
Step 1  Analyse the specific corruption types Mark Pyman CurbingCorruption
Step 2  Review reforms and reform approaches Mark Pyman CurbingCorruption Agata Slota; Tehmina Abbas; Paul Heywood; Scott Guggenheim.
Step 3  Develop the overall strategy Mark Pyman CurbingCorruption Paul Heywood
Step 4  Gain from international initiatives Mark Pyman CurbingCorruption
Step 5  Ask and Connect Mark Pyman CurbingCorruption


The website has been designed and built by Matt Goodall of website designers Arnold and Pearn.

The website is managed by Mark Pyman and Michelle Man.

Original artwork is by Simon Young of Saltash, UK.

Funding and links to organisations

This website has been established on a pro-bono basis. By working without external funders or income at this stage we have been able to develop the site and its direction in the way that we believe is best. We are open to ideas on funding, whilst remaining independent, as the website becomes more established

We (Mark Pyman, editors and originating authors, contributors) all have other responsibilities and/or jobs with other organisations. We do not believe that there are any conflicts of interest.

Sources of information

For each sector review we have an originating author. He or she is probably someone working professionally in that sector, an academic, a civil society activist, or a company executive.  The author seeks out all articles and reports that discuss constructive approaches and experience in seeking to address or reduce corruption in that sector. This is quite a task because most published material is about the problems of corruption, rather than reports of active reform experience. The author is encouraged to engage with people worldwide who are known for their knowledge and/or efforts on tackling corruption in the sector. The author agrees to work in the style of this website, especially being constructive, writing in accessible language and giving multiple reform examples. One or more of our editors reviews the draft, edits it where required, and we send it to others in the sector for review.

Once the review is public on CurbingCorruption, we ask readers to improve and expand the content. We ask that readers notify us of good material that they know of that is not on the site, comment on the current material, and add reports of their own experience. We do not require academic standards or smart language. If necessary, you can submit in your own language with an English summary. Our editors review all the material for content and to ensure some consistency of style. All those making additional contributions are credited by name, unless they have reason to request anonymity. We update the sector material regularly to include comments and additional contributions.

Contact us

You can contact us anytime at editor@curbingcorruption.com

We may be able to offer ideas or point you to examples and reports. We may be able to connect you to others in the same sector.

Data privacy: Our editors and authors will use your contact details to be in touch with you and, where you have indicated, to connect you with other people who may be able to assist. We will not disclose any correspondence with you. We will not share your contact details with any third party organisations. By submitting your details below you consent to this policy.

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