Find us on Google+

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Incentivising whistle-blowers

Liberia's President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf recently issued a decree to pay and protect whistle-blowers as part of her campaign to tackle corruption. Under the new measures, anyone giving information leading to money being recovered will get 5% of that sum.

A previous post touched on the need for whitle-blower protection, but I went on to add that "we don't want to give government employees rewards for whistle blowing because that defeats the overall objective of keeping government costs to the minimum". That requires some revision because perhaps the aim is not to "keep government costs to the minimum", but to ensure the overall policy of whistle-blowing delivers a superior outcome than no whistle-blowing (i.e. with rampant corruption). So any incentive that produces a marginally better outcome than the status quo must be better. The other advantage of a financial reward is that it mitigates the other danger we mentioned in that post - job loss. Although "job protection" would be legally guaranteed, some people may suffer psychic losses (lost friends, etc), financial reward goes some way to compensate for this.

Similar legislation already exists in the US - a qui tam lawsuit allows employees to bring cases on behalf of the federal government, and receive 15-30% of any damages paid out. Zambia of course does not even have whistle-blower protection, but when we do a legal and financial package would be a good place to start.


  1. Good idea, wish we had a progressive govt in Zambia instead what we hear is the need to protect govt or is it state secrets (?) even when such secrets are inimical to the public interest. Look at what happened to the public officials who stuck to the rule book in the Dora Siliya saga.....they are all gone.

  2. The present situation protects criminals rather than those who would unmask them. This is scandalous and must be corrected.

    But protection from dismissal or other punishment is not enough. Even then, the whistle blower is likely to be denied promotion. Whistle blowers should certainly be offered the incentive of financial reward. We should follow Liberia.

    But that will only happen when we have a government led by people who are not afraid of whistle blowers.


All contributors should follow the basic principles of a productive dialogue: communicate their perspective, ask, comment, respond,and share information and knowledge, but do all this with a positive approach.

This is a friendly website. However, if you feel compelled to comment 'anonymously', you are strongly encouraged to state your location / adopt a unique nick name so that other commentators/readers do not confuse your comments with other individuals also commenting anonymously.