Remarks on the Convention Against Corruption


Paul Balukas, President

Association of Inspectors General


Mr. President, honored delegates and members of the audience.


I would like to thank the United Nations for this opportunity to make observations and comments regarding the Convention against Corruption and of how the association of inspectors general can assist in its implementation.


I am the President of the Association of Inspectors General, a voluntary assembly of officially appointed Inspectors General and their top staff members. Our membership includes inspectors general in the United States and we are in the process of recruiting inspectors general from other nations. The Association was formed to "foster and promote public accountability and integrity in the general areas of the prevention, examination, investigation, audit, detection, elimination and prosecution of fraud, waste and abuse ....".


Some words about Inspectors General. Offices of inspectors general are typically provided broad powers that allow the Inspector General unlimited access to information needed to conduct a thorough investigation - which is often backed up with authority to subpoena the information through the courts. also, some inspectors general are provided with police powers to make arrests and work with local prosecutors.


The title, Inspector General, is not accidental - it is given to a person of unquestioned integrity and qualifications. An inspector general must be given total independence, free from all political influence, to conduct investigations and audits on matters which require scrutiny. "Inspector General" is meant to convey a powerful position - one who will protect the interests of citizens. Most inspectors general are given a specific area of responsibility. For example, I am the inspector general of the New York State Department of Social Services - the agency responsible for protecting and assisting the most vulnerable in our society - when corruption strikes here it takes away from those most in need. I have noted that some other nations have used the term ombudsman or have commissions to deal with the problem of corruption. Our association welcomes all entities devoted to investigating and exposing illegal acts in government.


With respect to the subject of this conference, the Association firmly supports the Convention against Corruption and has adopted a Resolution which states: "Therefore be It resolved, that the association of inspectors general commends the united nations and the participating governments for development of the convention; encourages all nations to implement effective anti-corruption measures; recommends that such measures include the implementation of the inspector general concept as a key anti-corruption agency; commends to all nations the generally accepted inspector general principles and standards developed by the association of inspectors general, and offers to work with nations engaged in establishing and strengthening anti-corruption measures". We believe

passage of the Convention against Corruption represents a major event in pursuing the elimination of corruption in governments around the world


The Association is well aware of the pervasive nature of corruption as our members routinely investigate corrupt officials in their role as investigators, auditors and inspectors of governmental operations at all levels of government. A major role of an Inspector General's office is to identify and provide useful recommendations for the removal of corruption when it is discovered.


There has been much discussion here about how best to implement the articles of this convention. It is easy to preach on such a corrosive subject but how many nations are taking the steps necessary to end the horrible effects of corruption on society? It is essential that to make this convention meaningful, we must be willing to implement strong proactive measures to prevent and root out corruption at all levels of government along with establishing appropriate monitoring and oversight functions. An inspector GENERAL also monitors and reports to the proper governmental authorities (including prosecutorial authorities) on the success and failures of the programs it oversees.


It is imperative that we stress the oversight function in the war against corruption. It must be an integral tool in the process developed to eliminate corruption where ever it occurs in government. That includes internal governmental operations as well as well as the policies and procedures governments use to acquire goods and services and contract for capital construction projects. We believe the Convention against Corruption will provide additional leverage in assisting Inspectors General where ever they are based in the conduct of their work.


Our Association was formed to support the work of inspectors general and, when requested, other oversight organizations related to governmental operations. In pursuit of this goal we have developed and adopted a set of professional principles and standards which our membership is encouraged to follow as a condition of membership.


The association meets regularly to discuss areas of mutual concern through conferences and seminars. Our Association also provides networking opportunities, communications between functioning oversight bodies and training to improve the oversight profession. Lastly, we also assist governments, both in the United States and internationally, in creating their own offices of inspector general or, when requested, in the development of an oversight function. Through these activities, we are attempting to strengthen and enhance oversight practices of those individuals and offices tasked with oversight responsibility.


We believe that our Association may be uniquely suited to materially assist in the implementation of the Convention against Corruption and wish to be on record as offering to provide such assistance as might be considered helpful. Therefore, please accept this statement as the means by which that offer is extended.


We look forward to working with the various organizations charged with the implementation of this convention.