The Phones Against Corruption approach from UNDPs Provincial Capacity Building (PCaB) project has been recently awarded by the Innovation Fund grant of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia Pacific Centre ? RBAP based in Bangkok, as one of the innovative approaches in the region aimed to combating corruption in PNG. This award also includes a seed fund of USD 25,000 that will serve for the development of the initial stage of the programme.
From a total of 60 proposals presented by 11 countries, PNG was awarded as one of the innovative proposals dealing with corruption. Phones Against Corruption is an approach that forward the idea to offer a corruption reporting tool that is easily accessible to the general public - mobile phone technology, more specifically a text message system (SMS) to report corruption through crowdsourcing.
The SMS system application, which is currently being developed by an Australian company, is a free text message system that will run in simple phones. It will run even if no credits are in.
Phones Against Corruption will complement and connect to ongoing anti-corruption efforts carried out by different stakeholders, including the Government of PNG, Australian Aid Programme, Transparency International PNG, Business Against Corruption Alliance, and EU amongst others.
Proto-typing, testing and scaling-up Phones Against Corruption involves three stages, which will ensure sustainability of this initiative through establishing a system and understanding of mutual accountability. These phases are:
1. Awareness campaign: seeks to let PNG citizens know about the availability and the conditions of service of the SMS application. This campaign will be carried out through all available media resource an important strategy of this phase is to emphasize the use of public-private-partnership to share costs and tasks.
2. SMS Reporting: A software application is developed, which can run on simple mobile phones, and a local mobile phone carrier has agreed to making available its network as the messaging platform and to providing free-to-dial numbers.
3. Actions taken: Links reported cases of corruption to the various sections of Government to take appropriate action - including the Auditor General?s Office, the Ombudsman Commission, the DoF, DJAG, anti-Corruption Task Force Sweep, the police, as well as the ICAC, which is currently being established. Crowd-sourced data and information will strengthen these ongoing anti-corruption GoPNG initiatives.
The initiative includes a monitoring plan that tightly follows these three phases and will ensure lessons are fed back into the roll-out of this initiative.
The value addition of this proposal is to increase mutual accountability between the citizens and the state, a crucial step to making development participatory and inclusive, in particular for women and youth who are largely excluded from public discourse and decision-making.