New tech help China fight corruption

Updated: 2011-01-16 13:27
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BEIJING - A new computer software program is pushing government officials in East China's Jiangsu province to work hard and behave professionally.

In the Nanjing Urban Planning Bureau, if an official does not finish a case within 20 days, a yellow light will flicker in the office computer system of the department, a warning signal from monitoring software.

"If an official violates the protocol when dealing with a case, a red light will flicker," said Ding Haiyang, head of the discipline department of the bureau.

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The public can follow the process, learn the result on the bureau's official website and submit complaints online, Ding said.

"Since the system was installed, every official has tried his best to finish his part of his work on time and hand it to colleagues in the next step. No one wants to be the one who delays the case and causes the yellow light to flicker," Ding said.

The discipline department will monitor the work of all officials through the system.

Now 52 departments of the provincial government, 13 city governments and 106 county departments in Jiangsu are linked by the new monitoring system.

According to the provincial discipline agency, the system has sent about 3,200 yellow-light warnings and 22,400 red-light warnings throughout the province since it started operation in January last year.

"Transparency of government work and effective supervision are the best way to prevent corruption. The new computer system helps us supervise the administrative power and stem graft from its source," said Xie Chang, deputy secretary of the provincial commission for discipline inspection.

At a plenary session ending on Tuesday, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the Communist Party of China (CPC) vowed to minimize loopholes and improve transparency in government work, especially through new technologies.

Experts suggested that China's leadership has realized information technologies can play a positive part in improving governance and fighting corruption.

Traditionally, the CPC used education and punishment to fight corruption, but now it focuses more on improving administrative and supervision systems to prevent corruption, said Dai Yanjun, an expert from the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.

"Information technologies, including Internet, are providing a more effective tool of supervision," he said.

As China's netizens reached 450 million last year, 35 percent of the total population, the Internet became a major platform for people to supervise the behavior of officials and even tip off supervisors to inappropriate or corrupt behavior.

In November last year, a netizen posted online a list of hospitals, doctors, and details of bribery claims by a medical device sales agent at a local website of Hangzhou, eastern Zhejiang province, which triggered a large-scale investigation into hospital bribery.

Also, in 2009 the CCDI and Ministry of Supervision opened its first tip-off website against corrupt officials.

"The number of tips and complaints against corrupt officials through the website has notably increased in 2010," said Gan Yisheng, deputy secretary of the CCDI.

Some local discipline agencies also improve interaction with netizens. The discipline agency in Hangzhou has founded a team to respond to clues exposed online.

Prof. Wang Wei, with the Chinese Academy of Governance, told Xinhua that technical developments, such as the application of management science, psychology and computer science, can save lots of resources, time and effort in battling corruption.

"The point is that the CPC has the resolve to curb corruption," Dai Yanjun said.