Reporting Corruption in Papua New Guinea’s Public Financial Management System

Image from conference

View Amanda and Colin’s presentation now (pdf, 1.75mb)

For Papua New Guinea (PNG) to achieve its development aspirations, effective utilisation of public expenditure is essential. However, significant weaknesses exist in PNG’s decentralised political, fiscal and administrative arrangements, from national to sub-national levels, which open up spaces for corruption. Public officials responsible for administering funds intended for basic service delivery have lacked anonymous and accessible ways to report corrupt practices. In a context of limited reach of most media and communication technologies, with the exception of widespread mobile phone coverage, this presentation reports on the expansion of corruption reporting mechanisms through an innovative new approach.

The Department of Finance, with support from the Australian Government and the United Nations Development Program, has established a way for public officials working in PNG’s public financial management system to anonymously report cases of corruption through a mobile phone text messaging service. All reported cases are referred to the Internal Audit and Compliance Division in the Department of Finance for further investigation, in collaboration with relevant state authorities.

The presentation will outline the experiences of public officials with this new corruption reporting mechanism. Overall, findings show that the service has been utilised well, with hundreds of ongoing investigations and several arrests. However, it needs to be promoted more amongst public officials at all levels, in particular at district treasuries where significant funding increases have been directed in recent years. The presentation will be of interest to those seeking to understand issues related to public expenditure, corruption and its reporting. The talk will also explore how mobile phone technology can be utilised for strategic purposes in PNG.

About the speakers

Dr. Amanda H A Watson is a Visiting Fellow with the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at the Australian National University. Dr. Watson has spent the last four years researching the use of mobile phones in service delivery and development efforts in Papua New Guinea. The research was conducted in partnership with the Government of Papua New Guinea through the Economic and Public Sector Program, managed by Coffey on behalf of the Australian Government. Dr. Watson has published in Pacific Journalism Review, Media Asia, Australian Journalism Review and The Australian Journal of Emergency Management.

Colin Wiltshire is a research fellow in the politics of service delivery at the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at the Australian National University. His research explores the political economy of budget and expenditure practices in PNG and its implications for development outcomes. He has conducted extensive fieldwork in PNG and focuses on applied, policy-relevant research. Colin recently managed the PNG Promoting Effective Public Expenditure Project, a joint research initiative with PNG’s National Research Institute. Colin has spent the majority of the last eight years living in PNG, including working in Provincial Administrations as part of the PNG–Australia Sub-National Strategy.

Updated:  25 September 2023/Responsible Officer:  Bell School Marketing Team/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team