Transparency International

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from one of Transparency International’s national chapters. The Anti-Corruption Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International and funded by the European Union


Could you provide us with best practice examples on bureaucracy and corruption?


This answer is also available in French.


1. The links between corruption and bureaucracy
2. Main trends in reducing bureaucracy
3. Country studies: Portugal and Georgia
4. References


Excessive bureaucracy or red tape – as it is often referred to – is a “derisive term for excessive regulation or rigid conformity to formal rules that is considered redundant or bureaucratic and hinders or prevents action or decision-making” (Anti-Corruption Business Portal, Corruption Vocabulary). As a result, red tape imposes a disproportionate bureaucratic burden on firms and citizens. It can manifest itself through excessive or overly rigid administrative procedures, requirements for unnecessary licences, protracted decision-making processes involving multiple people or committees and a myriad of specific rules that slow down business operations. There is a broad consensus that unnecessary and excessive administrative requirements for complying with regulations create both incentives and opportunities for bribery and corruption.

Countries across the world have implemented reforms aimed at reducing bureaucracy. While in some countries such reforms are part of broader anti-corruption strategies, in others it primarily aims to improve service delivery or to increase competitiveness. There are a wide range of tools used by countries to reduce red tape, such as the establishment of one-stop shops, the use of data-sharing and standardisation, and reforms aimed at simplifying administrative procedures and cutting bureaucratic burden. ICTs and E-government have also been used to improve administrative regulations, and most importantly, to improve transparency and accountability. This answer analyses the case of Portugal, where extensive and ambitious reforms aimed at reducing bureaucracy have been implemented, and the case of Georgia, which is often referred to as a best practice example in reducing red tape and curbing bureaucratic corruption.


Maira Martini, Transparency International, [email protected]


Marie Chêne, Transparency International; Dieter Zinnbauer, PhD, Transparency International,




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