8.4 Modernising acquisition processes and resource management systems
In some environments, reliance on decentralised, often paper-based materiel tracking and accounting systems opens up opportunities for corruption. Records can easily be falsified or lost, and paper-based accounting is time-consuming and difficult to verify. Introducing more effective, coordinated systems enables real-time monitoring and closes off theft and diversion avenues.
In some cases, modernisation will also mean greater centralisation, which improves standardisation and an ability to track movement of and the needs for particular items. However, in cases where the greatest corruption risks are at the central level, further centralisation is likely to increase opportunities available to corrupt networks and is not the answer.
Costs and benefits
As with all large-scale investments, modernisation of resource management will carry a significant price tag and will require both materiel and expertise. It is also likely to require longer-term training and mentoring to enable the recipients to make good use of the new systems. Moreover, modernisation and centralisation might not be the optimal solution in environments where reliable and systematic access to power grids is an issue. It could then make more sense to invest in paper-based systems and in-person resource management, as long as they come with independent oversight.
Closing off the space for corruption in resource management, however, is likely to bring significant improvements over the longer term. This could benefit not only the recipient force, which will lose fewer resources to diversion, but also the donor community. With recipients better able to protect resources, putting donated materiel to good use becomes easier. In the longer term, this helps build trust among donor and recipient and makes security assistance programmes easier to implement.
Case Study: Corruption and UN peace operations
Preventive measures: UNMIL's Fuel Unit
In response to fuel theft, UNMIL’s Fuel Unit introduced preventive measures including CCTV systems and spot checks at main distribution points, a requirement for a regional administrative officer to be present at fuel transfers, and collecting information to identify discrepancies.View case study
Case Study: Corruption and Plan Colombia: The Missing Link
Procurement reform in Colombia
Procurement reform in Colombia in the early 2000s saw greater centralisation and digitalisation of the processes that had hitherto been under the control of separate services. The US offered assistance in reorganising and modernising administrative processes and IT systems, which helped reduce the space for corruption. For example, it supported the creation of the Integrated Logistics System (SILOG), designed to centralise the registration and tracking of resources used by the armed forces. But centralisation, while it removed discretionary authority over large contracts, did not reduce corruption risks at the lower levels of the procurement chain and around supplies such as food, purchased by individual units.View case study
Preventing checkpoint bribery: Ukraine
In an attempt to curb illegal trade with the Non-Government Controlled areas of Ukraine, the Ukrainian government centralised and automated passage of trucks through checkpoints controlled by Ukrainian forces. The system did away with paying for passage at the checkpoint – which created opportunities for bribery and extortion – in favour of paying into a central system or a location away from the contact line. Truck are then accompanied by another official and an instruction to let pass is sent to the checkpoint.View external case study
- Audit units