The costs of corruption and its toll on development have galvanized
civil society around the globe into demanding more transparency
and accountability from governments. In the spirit of decentralization
and devolution of public services to bring them closer to the citizens,
local administrations have also sprung into action to combat corruption.
Seoul, as the capital and the centre of economic development of
the Republic of Korea, has faced the problem of corruption that
accompanies rapid economic growth. Recognizing that corruption is
deterred not only by the good will or ethical conduct of public
officials but also by institutionalizing effective systems, Seoul
adopted a systematic approach to corruption. Among its preventive
and punitive measures, public-private partnerships, and efforts
to ensure transparency in its administration, the Seoul Metropolitan
Government (SMG) has developed a web-based system that allows citizens
to monitor corruption-prone applications for permits and approvals.
This Online Procedures Enhancement for civil applications (OPEN)
system makes it easier to raise questions in the event that any
irregularities are detected.
Recognizing the OPEN system to be a successful example of an innovative
approach to increasing transparency, deterring corruption, and bringing
services closer to the citizen in public administration, the United
Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), through
its Division for Public Economics and Public Administration, has
signed a Joint Statement of Cooperation with the Seoul Metropolitan
Government (SMG). Specifically, UNDESA and SMG, with the cooperation
of the Asia Foundation, will hold the Seoul Anti-Corruption Symposium
in Seoul on 30 and 31 August 2001. The main objective of the Symposium
is to share the experience of Seoul with other major cities in order
to assist them to achieve a more transparent and accountable administration.
In addition, the Symposium will enable participants to share their
own experiences on successful and not so successful anti-corruption
initiatives. Based on these presentations and discussions, a manual
on the OPEN system will also be reviewed for publication in the
six working languages of the United Nations and for wide dissemination.