Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index is the world’s most watched measure of national graft. The CPI is cited in stories everywhere, usually as proof that a country is wallowing in corruption. But not everyone is a fan.
Criticisms include the CPI’s use of third-party surveys, sampling inconsistencies, an inability to compare year-to-year rankings in a statistically meaningful way, and the amalgamation of data from multiple years. (See this critique from Nathaniel Heller at Global Integrity.)
But the CPI may be getting a facelift. Transparency International is reported to be monitoring Russia and the United States in a test drive of its new way to measure corruption.
A Russian participant at U.S. – Russia bilateral trade talks told the Russian press how a TI representative described a different way corruption numbers will be tracked. Details haven’t been released. But in the U.S. – Russia test run, TI apparently will compare its traditional survey approach to a new methodology that will also include input from native NGOs, sociologists, and other experts.
A report earlier this year from RIA Novosti said the new methodology — which should be completed during 2010 — will prioritize what Americans and Russians think is important about their home country’s corruption.
Based on the U.S. – Russia test, the new system can be analyzed and critiqued before its planned application to other countries.
TI, however, has said the RIA Novosti report is wrong and there are no formal plans involving Washington and Moscow to change its evaluation criteria.
“There was no agreement between Transparency International and Russian negotiators,” the organization’s Media and Public Relations Manager Gypsy Guillen Kaiser said in a letter to RIA Novosti. However, she admits that NGOs participating in the meeting agreed to collaborate and share information on ways to research, tackle and monitor corruption in their respective countries.
“There was no agreement to develop universal corruption evaluation criteria within six months,” she added. “NGOs present agreed to exchange views on ways to research corruption and methods for monitoring implementation of anti-corruption plans.”
The CPI currently ranks the United States 19 and Russia 146 out of 180 countries.