Information sharing must be prioritized – TISL

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The Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL), issuing a statement, emphasized the role that corruption can play in eroding national security, particularly on issues of procurement.

The statement said, “On several occasions in the past, Sri Lanka’s national security has been exposed as a result of allegedly fraudulent procurement and tender practices in addition to allegations of serious conflicts of interest.”

The TISL also highlighted its long-standing position in urging the need for greater information sharing across all state agencies.

The revelation that certain tiers of the country’s security apparatus were aware of intelligence reports regarding an impending attack, raise many questions regarding the information sharing protocols of state agencies and the manner in which such information is acted on by the political leadership, Executive Director of TISL Asoka Obeyesekere said.

The full statement issued by the TISL is as follows:

Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) expresses its shock and dismay over the tragic loss of life afflicted on our country on Easter Sunday, tearing apart families and entire communities. Whilst expressing our condolences and standing in solidarity with the victims of these acts of terror, TISL calls on all stakeholders including the public to focus attention on resolving systemic deficiencies which allowed for these attacks to be carried out.

TISL Executive Director Asoka Obeyesekere said, “the revelation that certain tiers of the country’s security apparatus were aware of intelligence reports regarding an impending attack, raise many questions regarding the information sharing protocols of state agencies and the manner in which such information is acted on by the political leadership”.

It has been TISL’s long-standing position that there is a need for greater information sharing across all state agencies. Obeyesekere added, “the current culture of secrecy which has been reinforced by legislative provisions and the establishment code, continues to foster an environment where public institutions are operating within their own silos, with a limited common purpose. Through experience we have seen this resulting in examples of two competing agencies investigating the same issues, with a reluctance to share information, thereby clearly working against the public interest”.

TISL also wishes to highlight the role that corruption can play in eroding national security, particularly on issues of procurement. On several occasions in the past, Sri Lanka’s national security has been exposed as a result of allegedly fraudulent procurement and tender practices in addition to allegations of serious conflicts of interest.

Obeyesekere concluded, “The recent lapses in information sharing, illustrate the devastating consequences of a closed state. Striving for a more open state, which communicates internally and with a shared purpose is essential. This requires reforming civil service procedures to bring them in line with 21st-century practices. If lessons are to be learnt from these tragic events, the political and bureaucratic leadership must drive these much-needed reforms”.