David Apol, the current head of the Office of Government Ethics raised some eyebrows this past week when he directed government employees to avoid damaging public perception of the government’s integrity.  While some elements of the message may have been controversial, one point is beyond debate.  Citizens are more likely than ever to believe their government is corrupt.

In his memo, Apol cited a recent Transparency International found that 44% of Americans believe that corruption is pervasive in the government – an increase from 36% a year earlier.  Even among those that don’t describe it as “pervasive”, the perceptions aren’t good; 70% of people think that the US government is failing to fight corruption.

The perception of corruption isn’t directed only at one institution.  While White House officials fared the worst of anyone in government (with 44% of people tabbing them as corrupt), Congress and other government officials were viewed as mostly or entirely corrupt by one-third of surveyed Americans.

The one positive note for government investigators is that citizens want their help.  Three quarters of citizens felt that there was at least one way that ordinary citizens could make a difference, and 21% felt that reporting corruption was the single most effective thing they could do to reduce government corruption.

Does your agency make it easy for citizens to submit complaints?  Is your online submission system well-advertised?  Is it producing legitimate complaints?  These are some of the most important questions that an Inspector General, Ethics, Ombudsman or other investigative office can be asking if they want to help citizens feel empowered to improve their government.  It’s also one of the best ways to receive more valuable tips and improve the effectiveness of your office, because people do believe their input makes a difference.

To learn more about how CMTS can help your agency improve its online complaint intake system and close cases more quickly, call us at 919.600.5102 or email us at Team_CMTS@MyCMTS.com.