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It takes integrity to play fair

August 1, 2017

Read the transcript in Spanish, French and English.

In the video, a corporate executive plans to bribe a government official to create a monopoly for his products by finding an excuse for banning his competitors. Along with unfairly targeting the executive’s business rivals, the government’s involvement in corporate fraud ultimately hurts everyone involved, including consumers, said Jessica Tillipman, the assistant dean for field placement and a professorial lecturer in law at the George Washington University Law School in Washington.

Citizens have a basic assumption that their tax money and other public resources will be used to provide the best products and services available. That system completely breaks down when the government selects a contractor or service provider who is not the most qualified.

“You’re going to be dealing with a higher cost for both consumers and potentially the government,” Tillipman said. “Oftentimes corruption leads to higher prices for goods and services than would be necessary if there was no corruption because usually the company is building the corrupt payments into their prices.” The customer, meanwhile, is usually getting poorer quality services or faulty products.

In addition to losing public trust and paying more, the government is “potentially shutting out competitors that could have more innovative products or services.”

The company also stands to lose if its collusion with the government ever becomes public.

“Companies that are engaging in corruption do get prosecuted and do get potentially blacklisted or disbarred,” Tillipman said. “That puts a company out of business, and even just the reputational damage could significantly harm a company to the point that they could go out of business. Those sorts of things could lead to the destruction of jobs for hundreds or thousands of people.”

Government transparency mechanisms, such as offices that audit and publish contracts, procurements and spending, are essential to preventing this type of corruption. But they need to be independent and have adequate staff and resources to be effective, she said.

“We really depend on transparency, because that can at least flag for people how the government is making decisions and how the government is spending money so that they can then see whether or not something has happened.” Free media and protections for whistleblowers are also “powerful tools to unearth corruption.”

In the end, Tillipman said, everyone wants to have safe and functioning goods and services and to get the best value for the tax money the government collects.

Ask yourself: Can a whole community benefit when access is granted to only a few?

Integrity Starts With You. Join #YLAI For Integrity by taking the pledge at ylai.state.gov/integrity.

Video Transcript


I had my secretary setup a quick business lunch with this lady from the drug administration. As one of the biggest corporations in the country, we’re doing great. But sales can always be better. I need to corner this market. And to do that, I’m going to convince her to ban my competitors, based on their breaking some regulations. That will keep their products from getting in this market. And she’s going to do it, because I’m going to line her pockets. It takes money to make money and we’re saving lives!

Where’s the harm in that?

[TEXT: Governments granting unfair access leads to fraud, waste, and abuse.]

[TEXT: Learn “What’s the harm?” at ylai.state.gov/integrity]


J’ai demandé à ma secrétaire d’organiser un déjeuner d’affaires avec cette dame qui travaille pour l’administration des médicaments. Étant une des plus grandes entreprises au pays, mon
entreprise va bien. Mais les ventes peuvent aller mieux. Je dois cerner le marché. Et pour faire cela, je vais la convaincre d’interdire les produits des concurrents pour le motif de violation de certains règlements. Cela empêchera leurs produits d’accéder à ce marché. Et c’est ce qu’elle va faire parce que je vais lui remplir les poches. Il faut de l’argent pour faire de l’argent et nous sommes en train de sauver des vies.

Où est le mal en ça ?

[TEXT: Un accès injuste accordé par les gouvernements conduit à la fraude, au gaspillage, et aux abus.]

[TEXT: Apprendre “Où est le mal en ça ?” à ylai.state.gov/integrity]


Le pedí a mi secretaria a que organizara un almuerzo rápido de negocios con esta señora quien pertenece a la administración de medicamentos. Mi compañía le yendo muy bien, y está considerada una de las corporaciones más grande en el país, pero las ventas siempre pueden ser mejoradas. Yo necesito acaparar este mercado. Y para hacer eso, voy a tener que convencerla a que prohíba los productos de los competidores, basándose que ellos están incumpliendo con algunas normas. Algo que prevenga que sus productos lleguen a este mercado. Y élla lo hará, porque voy a hacer que gane mucho dinero. ¡Se necesita dinero para ganar dinero y nosotros con esto salvamos vidas!

¿Qué hay de malo en hacer eso?

[TEXT: Los gobiernos que conceden un acceso injusto llevan al fraude, desperdicio y abuso.]

[TEXT: Aprenda “¿Cuál sería el daño?” En ylai.state.gov/integrity]