The Governance & Integrity Anti-Corruption Evidence (GI ACE) research programme has supported research projects around the world generating actionable evidence that policymakers, practitioners, and advocates can use to design and implement more effective anti-corruption initiatives.

Top-down technical and regulatory approaches to tackling corruption implemented over recent decades have a very poor record of success.

In response, and taking account of the complexity of how corruption operates in practice and acknowledging the importance of understanding contextual factors, the GI ACE programme is designed to generate world-class evidence to help inform practitioners’ efforts to deliver more effective anti-corruption outcomes in specific contexts. 

Research undertaken is operationally relevant, problem-driven, rigorous, and actionable. The programme aims to help researchers communicate and share findings in ways that support practitioners designing and implementing more effective anti-corruption interventions.

In phase 2, the GI ACE programme will focus on three priority areas of research (themes):

  • Global finance and the enablers of corruption
  • Crisis responses and corruption in vulnerable sectors
  • Corruption risks in global trade and commerce

In phase 1, the GI ACE programme focused on these three priority areas of research (themes):

  • Addressing the international architecture that supports corrupt exchanges
  • Promoting integrity systems in the public and private sectors
  • Tackling corruption at subnational and sectoral levels

Examples include research projects that help identify malfeasance in public procurement, deter the theft of medicine, or determine whether ethics training can reduce corruption in the public sector.

GI ACE is designed to be more than the sum of its parts, ensuring not only that supported projects generate world-class research, but that the research is meaningful, actually having an impact on anti-corruption efforts.

For all the research that has been done over the years around corruption, the questions of what works and in what context still remains. If the impact that we all care about is solving corruption problems in the world, evidence that can actually contribute to impact must get into the hands of practitioners around the world and within various sectors who are charged with designing and implementing effective solutions to corruption problems.

GI ACE’s Theory of Change recognises the important role researchers play in generating rigorous evidence that can help to make progress. The GI ACE programme seeks to support researchers in their efforts to establish, build, and strengthen meaningful relationships with those practitioners actually working on the problems being researched. The best research is informed by practitioner involvement throughout the process, ensuring that the research is addressing real-world problems and building capacity for practitioners making best use of the research generated.

The Anti-Corruption Evidence (ACE) programme is funded with UK aid from the British people
and represents a £15 million investment from 2015–2022. A new phase of funded research is coming in 2023.

ACE is designed to produce new, operationally relevant research evidence on tackling corruption and, through this, support more evidence-based and therefore effective anti-corruption initiatives.

Key Features:

  • Investigating anticorruption (not just corruption)

  • Focusing on real-world problems (not just concepts or theory)

  • Tackling the politics of anti-corruption (as well as the technical barriers)

  • Demonstrating impact (by measuring reduced corruption)

ACE is an interdisciplinary programme, cutting across political science, economics, anthropology, sociology, and socio-legal studies. ACE’s research questions require a combination of research methods, and substantial fieldwork to generate new data, and some experimental methods. These are carried out through the sister programmes GI ACE and SOAS-ACE.

SOAS–ACE

Led by SOAS University of London, SOAS-ACE is a research programme consortium that takes an innovative, incremental approach to generate evidence on specific sectoral questions to help policymakers, businesses, and civil society adopt new, feasible, and high-impact strategies to tackle corruption.

SOC ACE

Led by the University of Birmingham, the Serious Organized Crime Anti-Corruption Evidence programme is the newest of the three sister ACE programmes funded by FCDO. SOC ACE aims to help unlock the black box of political will for tackling organised crime, transnational corruption, kleptocracy and illicit finance through research that informs politically feasible, technically sound interventions and strategies.

British Academy

The British Academy ran the initial phase (2016-18) of the portion of the Anti-Corruption Evidence programme now under with Global Integrity. The eight funded projects identified new initiatives to assist developing countries in efforts to tackle corruption and the negative impact it has on millions of people’s lives.

Select outputs from this phase are available on the Resources page, including from three project that received funding to continue their work in the current phase.

More about ACE & GI-ACE

Research Priorities (Phase 2 Themes)

In line with the first phase of GI ACE, we aim to continue exploring the role played by enablers (such as bankers, lawyers, realtors, auditors and so on) in an expanding ecosystem, especially with regard to illicit financial flows (IFFs), and proposed responses. The continued focus on this theme reflects the growing worldwide momentum to pass new and enhanced anti-money laundering legislation, including on beneficial ownership registers — a trend that has received a boost with the Biden administration’s commitment to crack down on illicit finance.

Related Projects

As the world faces growing threats from climate change, more frequent extreme weather events and health-related crises including pandemics, the risk of corrupt actors exploiting emergency measures taken to deal with such challenges also increases. Past health emergencies and natural disasters, such as the Ebola crisis in West Africa or cyclones in East Africa, saw the emergence of fraudulent charities, government and private-sector benefit fraud, identity theft, government contract and procurement fraud, and other forms of public corruption.

Related Projects

Transactions between people and companies in an increasingly globalised world have opened new opportunities for corrupt exchanges (e.g. illicit cross-border trade, underground financial systems, trade diversion, transfer pricing, invoicing abuse), yet there has been little focus on how to address such corruption challenges.

Research Priorities (Phase 1 Themes)

Promoting Systems of Integrity Management

Explores how integrity can be better understood and positively identified and promoted in both the public and private sectors so as to build effective models of integrity management—formal frameworks that ensure stakeholders proactively engage in ethical behaviour whilst also complying with legal norms.

Related Projects

Tackling Corruption at Subnational and Sectoral Levels

Explores variations in corruption at the subnational level and between different sectors. These variations are too often masked by the focus on nation–states as the general unit of analysis in studies of corruption and anti-corruption.

Related Projects

Recent Posts

#GI_ACE Twitter Feed

💥New episode on #statecapture in Madagascar 🇲🇬
@shipley_tom1 speaks to @KeRafitoson about state capture in key sectors, ie the exploitation of natural resources🌍, the role of international firms and states💼and innovative approaches from civil society💡

💥New episode on #anticorruption in the UK 🇬🇧
@CSC_barrington talks to @JohnPenroseNews about the behind the scenes as former UK government Anti-Corruption Champion and his decision to stand down from the role during Boris Johnson's administration.

🔎Discover how corruption networks target destinations like London. Our #GI_ACE 2.0 project dives deep into this topic and many more, connecting research with real-world cases like this one. Find all of our ongoing projects on our website! https://tinyurl.com/5f8z9spf #anticorruption

💥New episode on #journalism investigations into corruption 🔍
@LizDavidBarrett speaks to @tomburgis about how he got into journalism and his book #Cuckooland which grapples with the challenges in scrutinising public figures in a 'post-truth' society

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