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Everyone pays the cost – Corruption in the defence sector

A new report by Transparency International UK’s Defence and Security Programme – the Government Defence Anti-corruption Index – assesses what countries do, and fail to do, to counter corruption in their defence sectors. Corruption in the defence industry corrodes national security, good governance, and responsible budgeting. But countries can put in place proper protocols to mitigate, if not wholly prevent, the scourge of corruption.

Corruption in defence is dangerous, divisive and wasteful: every one pays the cost.

- Mark Pyman, Director of Transparency International UK’s Defence and Security Programme.

The index of 82 countries, which represent 94 per cent of military spending in 2011, relies on the results of an extensive questionnaire to place countries into one of six bands based on their performance in a variety of categories.

  • Only 10 per cent of the countries studied have effective legislation in place to support and protect whistleblowers. This makes reporting corruption a dangerous exercise within the armed forces in 90 per cent of the countries included in the Index. Only 15 per cent of governments assessed were found to have political oversight of defence policy that is comprehensive, accountable, and effective.
  • In 45 per cent of countries there is little or no oversight of defence policy. The study also finds that citizens are frequently denied basic information about the defence sector and don’t have access to defence budgets.
  • 70 per cent of countries placed in the lower end, Bands D, E, and F, display features such as limited legislative scrutiny and a lack of regulations addressing corruption in military operations. That leaves the door open to corruption.

Visit the study’s dedicated website,, for the full report, results and analysis.

Assessors for the 82 countries provided answers to a questionnaire based on our unique five-part overview of corruption risks in the defence sector. These context-specific analyses were carried out by regional assessors, and subjected to scrutiny by expert peer reviewers.

The analyses are complemented by a strong actions section. We want governments to make this traditionally secretive sector, which involves large public contracts, more open. Legislators also have a role to play, as they should have stronger controls and oversight of the sector, possessing the teeth and access to cut corruption down. It doesn’t end there: citizens should also have better access to information about defence budgets and purchases. After all, it’s their money that is being used.

We hope that this comprehensive and unprecedented study will serve as a tool for governments, companies and citizens to hold defence institutions accountable.

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