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Developing Empirically-Driven Public Corruption Prevention Strategies

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2018
13 pages
This is the Final Summary Overview of the report on a research project that addressed the following three questions: 1) Why are a significant number of public corruption cases still occurring over many years, despite many convictions? 2) Are there circumstances common to these cases that can be addressed more effectively? 3) What can be done to reduce and respond more effectively to cases of public corruption, given their adverse impact on public trust in government?
Data collection involved a review of case summaries of all federal public-corruption convictions for 2013-15; an analysis of court documents for a sample of these cases; an analysis of statistical data on all public corruption cases covering 30 years; and in-person interviews with investigators, attorneys, offenders, victims, insiders, undercover personnel, whistleblowers, and researchers. Data analysis procedures are described. The study concludes that corruption by government employees and entities is a more serious threat to the public than corruption by private individuals and entities, since government has a monopoly over goods and services the public needs. In addition to the harms caused by the corrupt practices, the corruption undermines confidence in the legitimacy and practices of government institutions. The study also concluded that controlling public-sector corruption is a prerequisite for controlling private-sector corruption, since the public depends on government institutions to adopt and enforce regulations that protect the public from corrupt private entities. Applying an eight-part typology of corrupt behaviors to several hundred cases found that receipt of bribery was the most common corrupt behavior. The prioritization of federal legislative, investigative, and prosecutorial efforts to counter public corruption is discussed, because the investigation and prosecution of corruption rarely occur at the state level. A listing of 13 sources of the project findings and recommendations

Date Published: July 1, 2018