Several gov’t institutes get worst rating for corruption

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Several gov’t institutes get worst rating for corruption

The National Tax Service, the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee and the government offices of Gwangju and Jeju Island were among a handful of public institutes to be rated at the lowest level in this year’s integrity index announced Monday by the country’s anticorruption watchdog.

The Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission (ACRC) said in a press release that the overall “integrity level” of Korean government agencies reached 8.19 points this year on a scale of zero to 10 in its latest Integrity Assessment.

This year’s score was 0.07 points higher than last year’s 8.12, and last year’s score was 0.18 points higher than in 2017, when government agencies received an overall score of 7.94. A higher score means the government has more integrity.

But the ACRC also grades public institutes individually on a scale of one to five, with five being the worst and one the best.

According to the commission, numerous public institutes were graded at level 5, which basically means they are corrupt.

Public institutes that received a level 5 included the National Tax Service, the Tax Tribunal, the Gwangju Metropolitan Government Office; the Jeju Provincial Government Office; the city offices of Donghae, Gangwon; Suwon, Gyeonggi; Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang; Naju, South Jeolla; Suncheon, South Jeolla; the district offices of Seocho District, southern Seoul; Jung District, central Seoul; the Korean Red Cross; the Korea Environment Corporation; the Korea Creative Content Agency; the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee; and the Seoul Facilities Corporation.

Those who received a level 1 on the index, which means they were the least corrupt this year, included Statistics Korea; the city governments of Sokcho, Gangwon; Hwaseong, Gyeonggi; Sacheon, South Gyeongsang; Gwangyang, South Jeolla; the Gangwon Provincial Office of Education; the National Health Insurance Service; and the Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute.

Public officials, people who work alongside government organizations, like reporters, and policy pundits were surveyed for the ACRC’s Integrity Assessment. The ACRC said it also looked into the number of corruption cases that occurred in those government agencies.

About 239,000 people participated in the telephone and online surveys conducted from August to November, the ACRC said. A total of 609 public institutes were assessed in this year’s integrity index.

In general, the ACRC said members of the public who have experienced working with government agencies thought more positively about how the state-backed agencies were distancing themselves from corruption this year compared to last year. But public officials and policy pundits mostly gave a lower score than last year, the ACRC’s report showed.

Specifically, the study indicated that 6.3 percent of public officials witnessed corruption in the “process of executing the state budget,” which was 1.2 percentage points higher than last year; 5.8 percent of public officials said they received an “unfair order,” which was 0.1 percentage points higher than last year; and 0.6 percent said they experienced corruption related to personnel issues.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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