Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I Paid a Bribe and Similar Corruption-Exposing Sites Spread -

I Paid a Bribe and Similar Corruption-Exposing Sites Spread -

The going rate to get a child who has already passed the entrance requirements into high school in Nairobi, Kenya? 20,000 shillings.

The expense of obtaining a driver’s license after having passed the test in Karachi, Pakistan? 3,000 rupees.

Such is the price of what Swati Ramanathan calls “retail corruption,” the sort of nickel-and-dime bribery, as opposed to large-scale graft, that infects everyday life in so many parts of the world.

Ms. Ramanathan and her husband, Ramesh, along with Sridar Iyengar, set out to change all that in August 2010 when they started, a site that collects anonymous reports of bribes paid, bribes requested but not paid and requests that were expected but not forthcoming.

Mr. Ragui in Kenya is working to develop a system to enable reporting of bribery by mobile phone that he hopes to have ready in time for elections later this year. The idea is to allow people to report vote-buying in real time that will be connected to a map. “It could be really powerful to have real time, granular data to analyze how much corruption affect the election,” he said.

“My real goal, though,” he added, “is to change just one government department and how it does business.”

That is what happened in Bangalore, where Bhaskar Rao, the transport commissioner for the state of Karnataka, used the data collected on I Paid a Bribe to push through reforms in the motor vehicle department. Some 20 senior officers in the department were “cautioned,” Mr. Rao said, and many others received ethics counseling.

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