Government's honesty and sense of accountability are essential to running a country. By virtual of accountability, the government is mandated to make it easier for the public to have access to the correct and accurate information of all government's involvements. Through giving the public the precise report, the government enhances and shows transparency. The transparency factor helps gain the public's trust and faith. It is, therefore, a government's duty to ensure that it has earned the citizens' trust and this way the government can work and smoothly run its duties as compared to while working without the citizens' trust. Accountability and transparency create a good working environment for different departments and institutions. By accessing the correct information and ensuring that openness is established, various institutions cohabitate together and bring forth a fruitful eventuality which ends-up benefiting all citizens at large. To enhance transparency also involves implementing and administering laws and regulations in a predictable and fair manner to all persons. The information released by the government should be open to evaluation. over the years the government has lost credibility due to lack of transparency. According to research, the backbone of lack of transparency and accountability has been influenced by the problem of investigation and poor government-media relationship. This research shall investigate the existence of corruption; lack of government transparency and accountability, and offer solutions to this foible in the American society.
Government's engagements in corrupt dealings may be difficult to be detected because of the well-hidden nature of the involvement. To begin with, detection of corrupt dealings is the first step to accountability and transparency. Officials can hide their participation because they may threaten the subordinates who may want to reveal the truth (Treisman 26-28). The corrupt leaders may also threaten the judicial system with the funding issue since the body has jurisdiction over them. The federal government has a law that protects the whistle-blowers after revealing corruption dealings. Unfortunately, the law does not protect officers who investigate the reported corruption dealings (Castlberg 405-406). This event creates an opening for politicians and other government officials a loophole for intimating and threatening the officers-in-charge of the investigation. Although whistle-blowers report on corruption deals either through an official statement in the police station or anonymously tipping the media, there is no guarantee that an investigation will take place. Even when it occurs, the scrutiny is not done comprehensively are the accused are soon left off the hook.
Officials involved in corruption cases more often than not end up corrupting officers in charge of the investigation and also the top-ranking federal officials. The guilty persons always manipulate the high –end officials since they are also frequently involved in the corrupt deals themselves. Since many cases that involve corruption are highly political, it becomes difficult for agencies to investigate the claims due to the political orientation and pressure involved (Treisman 31). Investigations of such events are not determined by the evidence presented but also by the resource at disposal. Inquiries in these scenarios have to align with the political forces and considerations at the time which may lift eyebrows because of the political question in place. It is critical to notice that although the United States of America has a significant number of officers per population than many countries, 60% of the department employ ten full-time officers. By nature, this reduces the amount of proficiency and speed in conducting the investigation and conviction of the guilty.
Lastly, conducting an investigation is not a no-sting job. Officers have to consider the legal requirement and framework that stipulate how an investigation should be done. Enquires on things such as the specific measures to be used in the acquisition of evidence is vital (Castlberg 407). Whether the officers can use the electronic material for activities like intercepting calls and emails may or may not be allowed by the prosecutors. The law must be followed, and some rules may interfere with how an investigation is carried out (Pring). At times, the red tape is exhausted and might interfere with the collection of evidence. The accused official might interfere with the evidence: destroy the evidence and clean themselves up before the police get the search warrant. If some persons and other valuable resources interfere with the process, the investigation will be compromised. Transparency will be at the edge if all forces do not work together in harmony with one goal. Frequently, the resource people are involved in the investigations, and they interfere with the process. As a result, the corrupt officials are not held accountable for their misdeeds.
Problem with the Government –Media relationship. Looking specifically at Trump's administration, transparency has been far from the American citizens. Mid-June last year, the White House was seen not willing to work with the press. From time immemorial, media has been the eyes and ears on the ground (Graham) The media is like a vital informational tool whose sole reason for existence is to inform the public. CNN observed that last year many government bodies and institutions slowed down the media briefings. In fact, Stelter, CNN’s reporter, categorically stated that the White House was not the only government body that did not hold press briefings. The Pentagon and The State Department had also stopped holding press briefings. Trump's administration became very secretive and hid almost everything from the public. The public was left guessing who Trump aligned with, who he did business with and who he helped. The situation made not only the media but Americans in general very uncomfortable. While responding to Stelter’s article, Juce Pace tweeted, "This isn't about us as journalists, it's about public's right to get answers from the government" (Stelter). At the same time, secrecy was not only witnessed in the executive branch but also in the legislative body. The government continued to have secrets as seen in the next paragraph.
The political class is quite conversant with lack of transparency since it makes it easier for them to control situations without much interference from the public. At the same time last year, Republican leaders were creating a replacement bill that would oust the famous Obamacare. The press was completely shut down and could not access any information on the law. The media felt the need to inform the public on what the situation was. The politicians did not want the media to report to the citizens in depth of the critical changes in the bill. On the other hand, the press accused the government of hypocrisy. It was noted that off-camera briefings were increasing as days went by. Later on, the White House went ahead and forbid radio and TV from broadcasting the audio after camera briefings (Stelter). It was observed that the administration often gave answers as "I don't know," "I'll get back to you." Although the press had noted this before, these kind of responses were more frequent than before. The attitude of the president towards the media was increasingly notable where he often ignored questions from journalists. The secrecy was noted to increase especially when the visitors' log of the White House was not released to the public. The White House website did not have a lot of informing information as compared to that of the Obama's reign. If the government is working towards the betterment of its people, then it must engage in accountable and transparent ways of interacting and communicating with its people. The media is a tool that any and every government should use to enhance the two traits: accountability and transparency.
Corruption does not exist? Corruption is not well defined in the law which creates a gap due to lack of clarity of the meaning.
The vagueness creates loopholes that make corrupt people unaccountable for their vices. The vice of corruption is rampant in the government since there are no clear policies and rules that define specific misconduct. The issue is critical to the extent that some restaurants have policies that allow officers on duty to have free meals or discounted advantages (Castlberg 407). This in itself is corruption which favors the police and also the restaurant owner. The owner of the restaurant cannot be quickly prosecuted or arrested by the officers because they receive free food. The officers who eat there, compromise their professional integrity and the integrity of the country at large. These forms of corruption are not well stipulated in the law, and so neither the officers nor the restaurant owner can be held accountable. The act of accountability is lost because of lack of a proper framework that will facilitate the avoidance of such illicit relationships between the police officers and the public. In this regard, some people may argue that the problem does not exist.
Availability of resources at all levels should be facilitated for productive growth in the justice system. As seen earlier, lack of resources affect the outcome of an investigation and so for there to have an adequate inquiry, all government bodies should work hand in hand to ensure investigations are conducted effectively. The judiciary is noted to be more self-centered than it cares about public resources. The court should care more about how the country will be free from corrupt individuals. As stated earlier, government officials may threaten the judiciary by withholding the body's resources until the judge rules in their favor. This manipulation affects the integrity of the court and the outcome of the case. Separate independent agencies should be responsible for the detection of corruption and inspection of corrupt officials at all levels of governance. The independent bodies should be well financed and given the space to work on their crafts. The body should not be answerable to any government institution to avoid any kind of influence. The government too should show its commitment to ending corruption. The systems and bodies that the government has put in place should ensure that all culprits are held accountable and that the vice is brought to an end. New laws should be put in place that condemns corruption and harshly punishing those involved in the practice.
Since political stretches affect the law enforcers, all police offer should be advised to stay neutral and not engage in any political battles. For police departments to be free of political influences, the political class should not be involved in the police business at any point. By this, no politician should be allowed to interfere with the appointment of an official in the police department. Recruitment and promotion of officers should be under no circumstance short of merit. All this should help in attaining and reaching to less corrupt and political-influenced police departments. Police officers should be rotated from one station to another over time to avoid and reduce the probability of occurrence of any shady dealings and involvements. After employment, the agencies should give the officers some probation period to determine their professional integrity and ethical conducts. By doing that, the officers would always be on their toes and working hard to prove their proficiency and value. It would be wise to offer officers good salaries to reduce the chances of corruption involvements.
The crushing media-government relationship should also be reinstated to ensure that corruption is checked. The two entities should work hand in hand in ensuring the public get the information that they deserve. The media has the obligation of informing the public with no fear or favor. This means that the press should be given the space it needs to meet its commitment as a profession and also as a responsible body in the society (Cohen). The government should use the media in proving its accountability and transparency. By using the media, the government can sell its manifesto, plans, strengths, and alignments. Through this channel, the government has a platform to interact with the public in a much more comfortable way than on tweeter. As much as people have migrated to the digital world, some old folks depend on the traditional medium of communication so the president should not solely depend on social media (Hunja). When the two bodies work hand in hand while respecting one another, both will benefit from each other. The government will gain trust from the public, and the media will feel appreciated by the government and at the same time, will meet its basic professional role of informing.
Evaluation of the Solutions Presented above. Increasing the number of police officers and prosecutors is a good recommendation. I think the problem is not solely dependent on the number of officers on duty but the delivery factor. If the few who are conducting this investigation are incompetent, what guarantee is given that when the number of officers and prosecutors their competence will increase. Competence should be observed whether the number of prosecutors is high or low. The number of officers should only rise to help speed up the investigations (Bauhr and Grimes). In this scenario, it is like the new prosecutors are coming to start the investigations all over again instead of helping the current officers in conducting and finalizing the investigations. Another point to note is that corruption is way more rooted than the salary concerns. Although it is good to increase both the police' and prosecutors' salary, there is no guarantee that the vice will stop. You cannot pay the cops what bribery offer, in fact, no government is that stable but on a light note, it might reduce the chance of corruption dealings.
The deal breaker solution to corruption cases would be to intensify the punishment of the culprits. Everyone knows when they are engaging in corrupt dealings even if their actions or behaviors are included in the law or not. This way everyone would fear to participate in the act because no matter how sweet the deal is, the punishment is still bitter.
HOW TO MEASURE ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY?
The government can measure its transparency and accountability by evaluating the usefulness of the material it gives to the public. The content the public receives should be open to evaluation and should inform and explain the government's endeavors. The government should ensure that it collects, compiles computes and publishes relevant and reliable information in of all institutions on time (Bauhr and Grimes). The state can go as far as involving the public on how the tax is collected and used. This by nature creates emphasis on accountability. The government could also enlighten the public on how various institutions run. The institutions' job could include protection of both public and private properties and not forget the provision of goods and services in the nation.
From the above discussion, it is evident that government's transparency is the key towards achieving and reaching the goals of a country. Accountability is valuable, and the government should use that to show its commitment to deliver its promises to its people. The principal focus was on the problem on investigations and the government –media relations. The discussed solutions could help in reducing and finally eradicating the vice of corruption. The government should strive towards enhancing transparency and accountability.
Bauhr, Monika, and Marcia Grimes. “Transparency to Curb Corruption? Concepts Measures and Empirical Merit.” Crime, law and Social Change, vol. 68, no. 4 ,2017, pp. 413-458, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10611-017-9695-1. Accessed 4 May 2018
Castlberg, Anthony Didrick. “Current Problems in the Fight against Corruption and some Possible Solutions: US Perspective.” Resource Material Series, no. 56, 2016, pp. 400-411, https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/0be9/c73b766d75df7ed171f8ae52f8e8f1c8e38f.pdf.
Accessed 4 May 2018.
Cohen, Roger. “Trump’s Corruption of the American Republic.” New York Times, 2 Feb. 2018, https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/02/02/opinion/trump-corruption-republic.html. Accessed 4 May 2018.
Graham, David. “Political Corruption Enters a New Golden Age.” The Atlantic, 16 Nov. 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/11/a-golden-age-for-corruption/546143/. Accessed 4 May 2018.
Hunja, Robert. “Here are 10 Ways to Fight Corruption.” World Bank, 12 Aug. 2015, http://blogs.worldbank.org/governance/here-are-10-ways-fight-corruption. Accessed 4th May 2018.
Pring, Caralie. “Corruption in the USA: The Difference a Year Makes.” Transparency International, 12 December 2017, https://www.transparency.org/news/feature/corruption_in_the_usa_the_difference_a_year_makes. Accessed 4 May 2018
Stelter, Brian. “Why you Should Care about Increasing Secrecy in White House and Senate.” CNN, 15 July 2017, http://money.cnn.com/2017/06/20/media/sean-spicer-white-house-press-briefings-transparency/index.html. Accessed 4 May 2018.
Treisman, Daniel. “The Causes of Corruption: A Cross –National Study.” Depertment of Political Science, University of California, 2005, pp. 24-35, https://www.amherst.edu/media/view/131389/original/Treisman2000.pdf. Accessed 4 May 2018.