This news might be good job security for Inspectors General, but it’s a distressing fact: US citizens see our government as more corrupt than statistics indicate it actually is. Gallup’s most recent poll, conducted over a year ago, finds that three-quarters of US Citizens describe corruption as “widespread” in their government. Rasmussen’s most recent poll, conducted in early 2016, found an even higher number – 81% reported the Federal Government is “somewhat” or “very” corrupt”.
Fortunately, it’s not accurate to say that we’re a very corrupt country – in fact, the US is one of the “cleanest” countries in the world. Transparency International’s poll on Corruption Perception ranks the US as in the top 10% of all countries worldwide in clean governance.
Because it’s impossible to know about all corrupt activities that occur in a government (after all, a very corrupt government would be quite good at covering up these activities) it’s difficult to know whether our corruption is actually increasing. But it’s certainly not at the high level suffered by many other countries on Transparency International’s index.
With this level of suspicion, it’s more important than ever that Inspectors General help to root out fraud, waste and abuse. Because while exposing crimes might decrease public perception in the short term, it ultimately leads to citizens understanding that, even if corruption is present, it’s not tolerated. Going into this new administration, the hard work of IG offices will be required to raise the poor opinion that citizens currently have of our government.