Organizations report false or incomplete data to cover up bad performance and illicit practices.
Risk type: Practice
Risk driver: Internal
Deliberate tampering with data, vagueness, and inaccuracies in reporting to regulatory bodies or donors may not only cover up the bad performance of a water sector organization, but may also hide corrupt behaviour. Reporting within an organization can be flawed if staff members report for example that problems have been fixed even though no action has been taken. Similarly, it is problematic if no effort is made to collect information in the field, and only estimates rather than actual figures (e.g. on consumption, coverage, continuity of services, etc.) are reported.
Many utilities do not produce annually audited reports and accounts, even when they are required to do so. And frequently such reports are not widely accessible to anyone other than regulators within government.1
- Contradictory data is reported to authorities, donors and the public
- Staff provide information very quickly when it comes to internal reporting requests (an indication that estimates are being used rather than, for example, actual meter readings)
- The regulator does not validate data from utilities
KEY GUIDING DOCUMENTS
Asís, M. G. de, Leary, D. O., Ljung, P., and Butterworth, J., 2009, Improving Transparency, Integrity, and Accountability in Water Supply and Sanitation, World Bank Institute and Transparency International
Using estimates rather than actual readings1
Target group: Utilities
In one major water utility in Asia, for example, nearly half of the flow and pressure gauges installed in the network were not in working order. The low-level staff responsible for reading and recording these data entered “estimates” rather than actual readings in the record books. Some data might be wilfully misrepresented by linemen and meter readers. A service problem might be reported as “fixed” even if no action has been taken.
- Asís, M. G. de, Leary, D. O., Ljung, P., and Butterworth, J., 2009, Improving Transparency, Integrity, and Accountability in Water Supply and Sanitation, World Bank Institute and Transparency International