TechCamp on Anti-Corruption Capstone Event

TechCamp on Anti-Corruption Capstone Event, December 14, 2018

Remarks by Lori Michaelson

Hello all, I am so happy to be here today and to with so many individuals interested in demonstrating how technology can be used to combat corruption.

One of the U.S. embassy’s highest priorities, all year long – not just during Anti-Corruption Week is fighting corruption – at all levels.

Why is this such a priority for us and why would the Economic Section Chief be here to talk about it? Because corruption — whether it is the taking of a bribe, or the sidestepping of a hiring process to hire a family member, or the use of an official position to help a friend before or more than others, tarnishes a country’s reputation at home and abroad.  It diminishes citizens’ faith in their government, and it discourages investment and economic growth. 

The US government recognizes and is pleased to see that Kosovo has made great strides in putting in place a legal framework to combat corruption. Now is the time to move from creating the framework to requiring accountability.

And that is where you all – and many of your projects — come in. To hold each other accountable we need evidence, and evidence is just another word for data.

That is why the work you are doing here is so crucial to the fight against corruption. The solutions you develop will help hold bad actors accountable and bring much needed transparency to corrupted systems.

I have read about the impressive projects you are working on it is clear that you are pushing for accountability and finding creative ways to present complex information. For example, the BIRN project in Serbia creating a platform that can explain a very complex situation where public officials switch back and forth between the public and private sector and the implications it has on the rule of law.

Also, I see the potential for the model developed in the Albania Tech Camp that creates a network between civil society, independent institutions, and the media to fight corruption in the health sector, to expand and tackle corruption in other sectors.

And, the Prizren project that aims to provide technical tools for easy data collection about construction and urban development, including analysis to detect violations against laws and potential instances of corruption, shows how starting with a very specific issue and showing progress in that area can create consumer demand for more, and greater, results.

Recognizing all the great ingenuity you have shown and applauding your initiative, I now want to encourage you to take the next step. I want to encourage you be a direct participant in fighting corruption.

It is not enough to build tools for others to use, and it is not enough to complain about how corrupt everyone is. You personally must act.  Anyone that observes an act of corruption and does nothing, is part of the problem, not part of the solution.  So, I encourage you to be vigilant and to be part of the solution.  Thank you and have a wonderful day.