The spiraling international attention on the oil spill disaster in the Gulf Coast assures one thing – there will be hundreds of millions spent in the area on cleanup and economic recovery.
Federal money pouring into the region during this election season assures that there will be dramatic claims of corruption, favoritism and incompetence.
Indeed, where vast sums of “crisis” money flood a region on an issue, opportunists come out of the woodwork. There will be corruption.
Of course, it is not just the White House, and the combatants in the mid-term elections that are at risk of corruption accusations. The career civil servants, and the state and federal agencies themselves will be tested.
The actions of government and political leaders are judged harshly by the public. One act of corruption becomes more important than 50 or 100 acts of competence. The track record shown with Hurricane Katrina is an unfortunate example. Although there were many acts of competence, integrity and leadership, the general impression of the response to the crisis was mixed at best.
The oil spill cleanup will provide an opportunity for federal and state agencies to demonstrate they they deserve our trust and support by increasing their efforts to prevent corruption in the face of the coming political pressures.
Whether the oil spill will be remembered as another instance where tax dollars were squandered for political gain, or as an example of integrity by the world’s leading Superpower will be revealed in the next several months.
Brian Pinkowski is an attorney and anti-corruption expert with Global Transitions & Development providing consulting and training for government institutions around the world.
Global Transitions & Development is currently conducting a Global Corruption Survey that can be viewed at: http://www.pinkowski.us/Pinkowski/Global_Corruption_Survey.html