Despite these institutional changes, there has of yet been little hard evidence to dispel the notion that they will not result in any meaningful change. There is a deep-seated suspicion that each new administration comes to power promising reform, but that politics and vested interests triumph over reform.
An important element in overcoming this suspicion and securing needed public support for institutional reform is greater transparency and inclusion of civil society in reform efforts. Again, we have some experience indicating movement in the right direction. For example, the government of Panama invited TI to participate in the oversight of the privatization of the state-owned telecommunications system. The City of Buenos Aires has agreed to work with TI in providing civil society oversight of the contracting for construction of an extension of the subway system. But, there is still inadequate inclusion of civil society on a regular basis in government processes of policy formulation and decision-making. There is still inadequate access to information on a timely basis.
The OAS has played an important role in promoting greater public participation. They have made a place at the table for civil society at many of their meetings and workshops that will hopefully encourage similar inclusiveness of civil society in the discussion and design of national anti-corruption programs at the country level.
The OAS has also promoted implementation of the OAS Anti– Corruption Convention through national workshops. These workshops are useful first steps in raising public awareness about the Convention and providing expertise. Unfortunately, there is no OAS institutional mechanism to ensure continuity, and to follow-up on a regular basis, of how countries are proceeding with implementation.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has also made a significant contribution by adopting revised procurement guidelines with strong anti-corruption elements. It has also agreed to permit borrowers to require anti-bribery undertakings in bank-financed projects and it is supporting a wide range of in-country programs to improve governance.
III. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR MATCHING EXPECTATIONS TO REALITY
This overview of some of the reforms that are underway reflects the considerable progress that has been made in just a few years, particularly for those who have viewed corruption as too pervasive and entrenched to overcome. But, there are those who continue to doubt the effectiveness of legal remedies to change entrenched practices and vested interests.
There must be hard evidence of meaningful reform in the short– term and, as Mack McLarty put it, “sustained engagement” so that by the Canada Summit in 2001 we have aligned expectations with reality-or reality to expectations. I would like to conclude with a few recommendations as to next steps to help reach that goal.