Ian Kaplan

Ian Kaplan

Ian has over 25 years of experience as a teacher, facilitator, university lecturer, researcher and education resource developer. His focus is on inclusion in education for those most marginalized and he has worked on education with communities, NGOs, multilaterals and government ministries of education in Africa, the Balkans, Europe, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia. Ian has also been working to support governments in Afghanistan and Armenia in anti-corruption efforts. Ian currently works with the Norwegian Afghanistan Committee (NAC) as an education specialist, and is also a director of the Enabling Education Network (EENET) – a global inclusion in education information sharing network of practitioners and researchers.

Pyman TI-DS story 2020

Tackling defence corruption is about much more than stopping dodgy commissions on arms sales. Civilians and soldiers die because of corruption in defence, insecurity rises, peace is compromised, wars extended. This working paper describes the twenty-year effort by Transparency International’s Defence & Security Programme to reduce defence corruption across the whole sector, collaborating with and pressuring defence ministries, military forces, defence companies, NATO, NGOs and others. The progress suggests that a ‘whole sector’ approach – covering companies, governments, regulators and civil society – can be effective, and may hold lessons for how reform approaches in other sectors can be better conceived and implemented.

Heywood & Pyman 2020 GI

In a recent paper on rethinking corruption, Heywood (2017, 47) concluded that, without greater analytic sophistication and depth, ‘it will remain difficult to develop interventions that have an impact on the lived reality of specific instances of actual corrupt practices, as opposed to generic observations about which places are more corrupt than others.’ In this paper we move from rethinking corruption to ‘rethinking corruption reform’. We start by challenging the current infantilisation of the word ‘strategy’ through an analysis of how good strategy is defined, taught and formulated in the domains of the military, business and politics. This brings us to new conclusions about how those seeking to reduce corruption can conceive and execute better, more effective reform strategies.

Pyman & Heywood GI 2020

This paper describes a new approach to assist politicians, leaders and managers develop better strategies to reduce corruption. The Sector Focus & Reformulation Approach, or SFRA, is applicable in both developed and developing country environments. The situation that SFRA responds to is this: I am responsible for delivering policies/services/products. My team and I know the issues, the politics and the context, but we know little about reducing the damaging impact of corruption on our operations. Help us to understand how we should analyse the problem, what reform approaches to consider, and how we then formulate a good strategy.

Sector overview

Corruption issues and remedies are usually best addressed at sector level, not at whole-of-government level

In working sector by sector, CurbingCorruption responds to a major shift in the structure of modern economic society. Today, almost every area of national life includes public elements, private elements and regulatory elements.

Some areas may still be more public than private, such as taxation and policing, whilst others may still be more private than public, such as fisheries or tourism, but the increasing inseparability of public and private via all sorts of mechanisms, such as  outsourcing, the dictates of national strategy and the acceptance of executives having multiple roles, has become a core characteristic of most areas of national life today.

At the same time, the trans-national characteristics of each sector have become more pronounced: the major companies are international, the money flows are international, the sector standards are often global.

Front-line reformers understand their sector (health, education, telecoms, policing, etc). They understand the economic incentives that drive their sector, the language of their sector, the social norms that govern peoples’ behaviour, the political specificities of the sector. There is also usually ownership and pride among those working in any given sector, powerful motivators if ways can be found to harness them. Even in the toughest corruption environments, where progress may only be possible in tiny steps, there are many sector improvement measures that can help, and which can form the basis of a much larger improvement when circumstances change.

Why are Sectors are a good locus for reform?

Working within the sector brings significant benefit for corruption reformers. When they operate inside a given sector (such as in health, construction or telecoms), the reformers understand the economic incentives that drive the sector, the social norms that govern peoples’ behaviour, the political specificities in that sector. Greater focus comes from these deeper insights. Thus, for a reformer working in, say, the electricity and power sector, they would be familiar with corruption issues associated with the power regulatory agencies, the state-owned power entities, the immense leverage of power pricing that are accessible to only a few, the leverage of favorable financial investment terms, the political dimensions of public access to cheap, safe power, and so forth. By contrast, a reformer working in health will be attuned to the political power of doctors and of medical device companies, to the immense scale of private payments for health services in poorer countries and its abuse, to the benefits and threats of generic drugs, and so on. What we see, as exemplified by these two sectors, is that many of the openings for corruption and therefore the nature of the possible reforms are quite distinct.

What is a sector?

There is no universally agreed upon definition of a sector. In economics, besides the generic terms public sector and private sector, sector tends to mean industry sectors, usually as defined in various national and multilaterial classifications such as NACE (nomenclature statistique des activités économiques dans la Communauté européenne) and relating almost exclusively to the private sector. In the development world, sector tends to denote the public sector, with particular reference to those areas of the government expenditure most relevant to development agencies, such as agriculture, construction, education, health, power and water.

We use the following, updated, definition of sector (adapted from Heywood and Pyman 2018, Pyman 2020):

Sectors are the individual structures and functions through which national life operates. Structures include the legislature, the judiciary and the civil service. Functions include public functions, such as health, education, policing and public financial management; economic functions, such as agriculture, telecommunications, mining, construction and shipping; and the multiple public-private functions that span both public and private, such as sport, infrastructure projects, tourism and land management. A sector comprises some or all of the following: one or more professions, a government ministry, multiple government organisations and agencies, multiple commercial organisations and the relevant industry associations; one or more multilateral organisations concerned with international application; and a functional or market regulatory authority.

There is no natural number of sectors, and for each sector, such as water, there are always sub-sectors, such as water table management, water services, and further possible sub-division. A parallel with the four-level industry NACE classification system  is helpful. The NACE list identifies 21 Economic Areas, which in turn are subdivided into 88 divisions, then into 272 groups and then finally into 615 classes (European Commission 2020).

CurbingCorruption has a working list of sixty sectors, categorised into 13 different areas. These are:


Approach overview

The final part of developing an effective Anti-Corruption strategy is to lay out a range of  Actionable Reform Approaches. Actionable means that we exclude approaches that are impossible, theoretical or simply a statement of desire, and concentrate on feasible ways forward. For example:

 ‘In societies that have widespread rule violations, high-impact anti-corruption is only likely to be feasible if the overall strategy succeeds in aligning the interests and capabilities of powerful organizations at the sectoral level to support the enforcement of particular sets of rules.’  From Khan et al. (2016, 1).

Generic statements such as ‘ensuring agents hold principals to account’ or ‘more political will is required‘ are not actionable. These statements may reflect genuinely held desires, but they are not actionable. Instead we work through political and tactical possibilities, then specific reform measures, then ways to choose amongst the options that are generated.

1. Options for feasible Political and tactical approaches

Eight generic approaches to start from. Click here

2. Options for Specific reform measures

Eight types of measures with 70 specific measures. Click here

3. Choose & discard among the options

Eight lenses to frame your options. Click here


Bibliography – Defence & Military

Barynina, M., & Pyman, M. (2012). The 3rd line of defence: How audits help address defence corruption. The experience of Ukraine. Berlin, Germany: Transparency International. Retrieved from http://ti-defence.org/wp- content/uploads/2016/03/2012-03_3rdLine_AuditsDefenceCorruption.pdf

Centre for Integrity in the Defence Sector (Norway) and Transparency International UK Defence and Security Programme “Integrity Action Plan. A handbook for practitioners in defence establishments.”. November 2014. www.ti-defence.org

Clark, Tiffany and Pyman, M 2013. Raising the bar. Part I: Seven practices that distinguish the best. Transparency International Defense & Security. Accessed at https://curbingcorruption.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Clarke-and-Pyman-2013-Raising-the-bar-Good-anti-corruption-practices-in-defence-companies-Part-I.pdf

Clark, Tiffany and Pyman, M 2013  Raising the bar. Part 2: 104 examples of good defense company practice. Transparency International Defense & Security. at https://curbingcorruption.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Clarke-and-Pyman-2013-Raising-the-Bar-Part-II-104-examples-of-good-defence-company-practice.pdf

Feinstein, A. (2011). The shadow world: Inside the global arms trade. New York, NY: Penguin Books.

Gorbanova, Mariya and Wawro L 2011. The transparency of national defence budgets. Transparency International Defense & Security. https://curbingcorruption.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Gorbanova-and-Wawro-2011-The-transparency-of-national-defence-budgets.pdf

Kerry, J. (2015, January 22). Remarks at the World Economic Forum. Retrieved from http://m.state.gov/md251663.htm Lapko, A. (2014, October 8). Ukraine’s own worst enemy: In war time, corruption in Ukraine can be deadly. New York

MacLachlan, K. (2015). Security assistance, corruption and fragile environments: Exploring the case of Mali, 2001– 2012. Berlin, Germany: Transparency International. http://ti-defence.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/ 03/150818-150817-Security-assistance-corruption-and-fragile-environments-Exploring-the-case-of-Mali-2001-2012. pdf

Ministry of National Defence. (2013). Building Integrity: Action plan of the Ministry of Defence of Georgia 2014–15. http://www.mod.gov.ge/documents/Buildingintegrity.pdf

Mustafa, Saad, Schwellenbach S, Pyman M and Wright E 2014  Single Sourcing: A multi-country analysis of non-competitive defense procurement. Transparency International Defense & Security, https://ti-defence.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/140910-Single-Sourcing.pdf

Narvaez, C. (2015, April). Personal communication to the author from Vice Admiral Cesar Augusto Narvaez, Inspector General, Colombian Ministry of National Defence, at the NATO Biennial Conference on Building Integrity.

NATO. (2015, March 9). Building Integrity: Self-assessment questionnaire and peer review process. Retrieved from http://www.nato.int/nato_static_fl2014/assets/pdf/pdf_2015_03/20150309_150309-bi-saq-en.pdf

Pyman, M. (2011). Building integrity and countering corruption in defence and security: 20 practical reforms. Berlin, Germany: Transparency International. Retrieved from http://ti-defence.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/1102_ Handbook_IntegrityReducingCorruption.pdf

Pyman, Mark (2015) Augustina Tzvetkova: Interview with the former Deputy Defense Minister of Bulgaria 2009 – 2013. Transparency International Defense & Security.   https://curbingcorruption.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Pyman-2013-An-interview-with-the-former-Deputy-Defence-Minister-of-Bulgaria-2009-to-2013.pdf

Pyman, Mark 2017  Addressing Corruption in Military Institutions. Public Integrity19(5), 513-528, DOI: 10.1080/10999922.2017.1285267.

Pyman, Mark, Wilson R and Scott D 2009. The extent of single sourcing in defense procurement and its relevance as a corruption risk. Transparency International Defense & Security. Defence and Peace Economics 20(3), 215-232.  Accessed at https://curbingcorruption.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Pyman-Wilson-and-Scott-2009-The-extent-of-single-sourcing-in-defense-procurement-and-its-relevance-as-a-corruption-risk.pdf

Pyman, M., Cover, O., Vidal, E., Kerr, E., & Fish, K. (2014a). Étude sur les aspects de l’intégrité de la Police Nationale du Burundi [Survey of the integrity of the National Police of Burundi]. Berlin, Germany: Transparency International. Retrieved from http://ti-defence.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/2014-05_integrite_police_ nationale_burundi.pdf

Pyman, M., Cover, O., Vidal, E., Kerr, E., & Fish, K. (2014b). Étude sur les aspects de l’intégrité de la Force de Défense Nationale du Burundi [Survey of the integrity of the National Defence Force of Burundi]. Berlin, Germany: Transparency International. Retrieved from http://ti-defence.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/2014-05_integrite_ force_defense_nationale_burundi.pdf

Pyman, M., Vittori, J., Waldron, A., & Seymour, N. (2014). Corruption threats and international missions: Practical guidance for leaders. Berlin, Germany: Transparency International. Retrieved from http://ti-defence.org/wp- content/uploads/2016/03/140930-Corruption-Threats-International-Missions.pdf

Shaw, Steven and Totman J 2015. Suspension and debarment: strengthening integrity in international defence contracting. Transparency International Defense & Security, accessed at http://ti-defence.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/150507-Suspension-and-Debarment.pdf

Tenbrunsel, A.E., Messick, D.M. Ethical Fading: The Role of Self-Deception in Unethical Behavior. Social Justice Research17, 223–236 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1023/B:SORE.0000027411.35832.53

Transparency International UK. (2015). Government defence anti-corruption index. Retrieved from http://government.defenceindex.org

Transparency International UK Defence, & Security Program. (2015a). Government defence anti-corruption index 2013. Retrieved from http://ti-defence.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/gi-2013-mainreportphase04.pdf

Transparency International UK Defence, & Security Program. (2015b). Regional results for Middle East and North Africa. Retrieved from http://government.defenceindex.org/downloads/docs/GI-MENA-Regional-Results-web.pdf

Transparency International UK Defence, & Security Program. (2015c). Results for NATO members and partner states. Retrieved from http://government.defenceindex.org/downloads/docs/GI-NATO-Results-web.pdf

World Bank. (2012). Fighting corruption in public services: Chronicling Georgia’s reforms. Washington, DC: World Bank. doi:10.1596/978-0-8213-9475-5.

World Bank, World Development Report 2011, Boas, Tiltnes and Flato 2010    https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/4389/9780821384398_ch03.pdf?sequence=77

Example Bulgaria (May be duplicate)


The Bulgarian government of 2009-2013, led by the GERB party, was strongly focused on anti-corruption. Bulgaria had just had some of its EU funding cut off due to lack of progress on tackling corruption. The focus was especially strong in the Defence Ministry, whose senior leadership had already developed an anti-corruption strategy in 2008, ready to implement in 2009 were they to be elected.  Theirs was a broad initiative, attacking corruption on almost all fronts, using the new NATO-TI integrity-building tools, encouraging external media and NGO engagement, being highly transparent.  TI-DSP actively supported the anti-corruption initiative, mentoring the leadership, assisting with training and facilitating leadership events.

The successes and failures of the initiative are described in some detail in a detailed interview with the Deputy Defence Minister[11]. Besides staff changes, the new leadership made a large number of changes:

  • Immediately established an anti-corruption council in the MOD as the key leadership change body
  • Introduced transparency into formulating decisions as well as into the decision making process as a basic weapon against the hidden practices related to abuse of position-in- office for personal gain.
  • All the activities of the leadership of the Ministry of Defence were conducted under complete publicity. This considerably improved the relations of the political leadership of defence with the expectations of the public
  • Developed the strategic documents of the defence policy and the modernisation of the armed forces under the conditions of clear accountability to the citizens regarding the ways of spending the defence budget
  • Put into law that any contract over €50 million should be approved by parliament
  • Developed an Ethical Code of Conduct for the military and civilian personnel
  • Introduced specialised training in anti-corruption practices
  • Implemented rules on preventing and determining conflicts of interest
  • Changed the internal rules on publication entirely: because everything was confidential or secret and nothing was published on the MOD website
  • Changed the rules for the so-called “special procurement” for secret tenders. For the first time ever information about special tenders could be found on the website.
  • Created a strategy for the management of surplus property and published on the webpage the complete list of real estate.

Positive evidence of impact is found in the relatively good scoring of Bulgaria – in band C – in the TI Government Defence Index in 2013[12], though no comparative evidence is available.


The GERB government resigned in 2013, and the successor administration reversed a number of the reforms. My own conclusion is that they tried to do too much with a Ministry and military that still had deep ‘particularistic’ roots, with insufficient time. They could have been faster in the first year – Ms. Tzvetkova comments that perhaps she tried too hard to convince the 100 Division Chiefs of the merits of reform, and was thus too slow to dismiss those resistant to change – but it seems to me that they were pretty quick nonetheless, having already pre-prepared their plans. Ms Tzvetkova’s own assessment is that she was halfway through their reform programme when the GERB government fell. There is a parallel to TI’s defence work in Colombia in 2006/7/8 (see below), where the Defence Minister commented that one electoral cycle was insufficient time for a full, range of anti-corruption reforms in the Ministry. She thought that real cultural change would take 4-6 years, meaning that two cycles were required, on the basis that the first and last years in each electoral cycle would be taken up with campaigning or getting (re)established.

Bulgaria’s military and their reforms never had the public approval that came with most of the other countries in this paper, such as Afghanistan or Poland. It also seems that they were not leading – or at least not getting any credit for leading – reform across the government as a whole.

Our perception of Bulgaria’s experience is that it offers the following policy lessons:

  • Ministry-by-Ministry plans have to be prepared. These plans have to be pre-prepared, unless major changes, including staff dismissals, are planned to be implemented right from the beginning
  • Countries should be cautious about all-encompassing Ministry reform plans, however strong the will and commitment of the leadership. More prioritisation (see for example Poland below) is a lower-risk route.
  • Have two plans running in parallel: Plan A to show progress through one electoral cycle, Plan B to build progress through two cycles, if re-elected.
  • Transparency of information and decisions did help, but much less than anti-corruption theology would imply. It helped internally to know that the information was public, but it was not really picked up by the media or NGOs. The media, despite being courted, was similarly not much of a key player in encouraging or stimulating the reforms. The real lesson was that it was hard, internal work that had to be done to change the key processes – eg defence acquisition policy decision-making, technical requirement specifications, promotion approval boards, conflict of interest actions – and the key people, in order to see effective reduction in corruption.
  • From a TI point of view, it has been critical to visit the MOD every few months, to provide support, offer ideas, and help resolve problems. There is so little practical anti-corruption expertise around that such ‘mentoring’ plays a big role in supporting a Ministry
  • Similarly, leading an anti-corruption initiative is a lonely endeavour. Creating a support community internationally is very helpful – In this case it has been TI-DSP people, people in other countries doing the same thing (eg Poland), experts brought together by TI-DSP for discussion of new tools (eg via TI-DSP’s MEKANIC process[13]), military gatherings where like minded nations can confer, such as have been set up by NATO.

GDI country results

Detailed reports – defence corruption vulnerability

Transparency International Defence & Security (here).

Results are from 2020, or 2015 when not yet available in the 2020 results set.

Albania Cameroon France Latvia North Macedonia South Korea
Algeria Canada Gabon Lebanon Norway South Sudan
Angola Cape Verde Gambia, The Liberia Oman Spain
Argentina Central African Republic Georgia Libya Palestine Sri Lanka
Armenia Chad Germany Lithuania Pakistan Sudan
Australia China Ghana Madagascar Philippines Swaziland
Austria Colombia Greece Malawi Poland Sweden
Azerbaijan Comoros Guinea Malaysia Portugal Switzerland
Bahrain Congo, Republic Guinea-Bissau Mali Taiwan Syria
Bangladesh Cote D’Ivoire Hungary Mauritania Tanzania Thailand
Belgium Croatia India Mexico Qatar Togo
Benin Czech Republic Indonesia Morocco Russia Tunisia
Bosnia & Herzegovina DRC Iraq Montenegro Rwanda Turkey
Botswana Denmark Iran Mozambique Saudi Arabia Uganda
Brazil Egypt Italy Myanmar Senegal Ukraine
Bulgaria Equatorial Guinea Japan Namibia Serbia United Arab Emirates
Burkino Faso Eritrea Jordan Netherlands Sierra Leone United Kingdom
Burundi Estonia Kenya New Zealand Singapore United States
Cambodia Ethiopia Kuwait Niger Somalia Uzbekistan
Finland Kosovo Nigeria South Africa Yemen

Sector preamble

The purpose of this review is to provide examples and experience of how others in this sector have reduced the damaging impact of corruption. The sector-specific information is relevant for politicians, leaders, managers, civic groups, company executives and others. We hope it will bring both knowledge and inspiration.


Contribute your experience. Connect with us on Twitter

Connect with us on LinkedIn

Send the Editor an email