Biden administration releases plan to combat corruption at home and abroad

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The Biden administration Monday released a 5-pillar strategy to combat corruption in the U.S. and abroad.

"Corruption threatens United States national security, economic equity, global antipoverty and development efforts, and democracy itself," Biden said in a statement on June 3, 2021, as he established a fight against corruption as a core national security interest of the United States. "But by effectively preventing and countering corruption and demonstrating the advantages of transparent and accountable governance, we can secure a critical advantage for the United States and other democracies."

The strategy involves five pillars: modernizing, coordinating and resourcing U.S. government efforts to fight corruption; curbing illicit finance; holding corrupt actors accountable; preserving and strengthening the multilateral anti-corruption architecture; and improving diplomatic engagement and leveraging foreign assistance resources to fight corruption.


The strategy comes after federal departments and agencies conducted a review "to take stock of existing U.S. Government anti-corruption efforts and to identify and seek to rectify persistent gaps in the fight against corruption."

President Biden, with first lady Jill Biden, speaks during a visit at Brookland Middle School in northeast Washington on Sept. 10.  (Associated Press)

The strategy "builds on the findings of the review and lays out a comprehensive approach for how the United States will work domestically and internationally, with governmental and non-governmental partners, to prevent, limit, and respond to corruption and related crimes," the document explains.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to members of the media outside a voter service center, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, in Chester, Pa. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The strategy lays out a few different types of corruption: 

  • Grand corruption: when political elites steal large sums of public funds or otherwise abuse power for personal or political advantage.
  • Administrative corruption: the abuse of entrusted power for private gain — usually by low- to mid-level government officials — in interactions with citizens and the private sector, including to skirt official regulations and extort citizens in exchange for their basic services.
  • Kleptocracy: a government controlled by officials who use political power to appropriate the wealth of its nation. Can include state capture.
  • State capture: when private entities improperly and corruptly influence a country’s decision-making process for their own benefit.
  • Strategic corruption: when a government weaponizes corrupt practices as a tenet of its foreign policy.

President Biden addresses the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 21, 2021, at U.N. headquarters in New York City.  ((Photo by Timothy A. Clary-Pool/Getty Images) / Getty Images)


"From the small-town hospital administrator who demands bribes in exchange for life-saving services, to the globe-trotting kleptocrat who offshores an embezzled fortune, corruption harms both individuals and societies," the strategy document explains. 

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