The United States and Its Current Rating With the CPI

Where there is power, there is often corruption. While many people have simply accepted the low standards for politicians and ethicality in business, there is still hope that transparency can bring about change. As U.S. citizens, we must demand a government and institution that values integrity and denounces corruption in all forms. 

Corruption and the United States

It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly how corruption develops and what allows it to grow. Most countries have at least some history with corruption, and the United States is not an exception. While it can be tempting to avoid responsibility by responding to corruption with “but look how far we’ve come,” as United States citizens, it’s our duty to advocate for higher standards. To help us in doing so, organizations such as Transparency International utilize the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) to rank countries based on corruption. 

Determining a Country’s Corruption Status

Transparency International’s CPI measurement follows criteria to develop rankings:

  1. Defining Corruption. First, they make it clear that their definition of corruption is “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.” Check out the link to read their detailed analysis of corruption, how it can happen, what it looks like, and why it matters.
  2. Criteria. The criteria that they use comes from 13 different data sources, which measure things like bribery, diversion of public funds, status of the persecution of corruption cases, access to information, protection for whistle-blowers and more using the sources’ unique questions and scoring.

  3. Data Sources. The public has complete access to each source, how the source was compiled, and what kind of data was collected. Countries must be included in at least 3 of the 13 data sources in order to be individually assessed.

  4. Conversion. The data is then standardized using a scale from 1 to 100 (1 being completely corrupt, and 100 being anti-corrupt), which translates data from all over the world into comparable information. Each country included then gets their score from each data source, and the scores are averaged, creating each country’s final score and ranking.

Where the U.S. Stands

Though Transparency International has been collecting data and ranking countries since 1995, some modifications in the process mean that the data collected between 1995 – 2011 cannot be compared against data collected between 2012-present. Still, there are eight years worth of valuable data to look at. So, where does the U.S. stand?

In general, the U.S. score has drifted between 60 and 80. In 2015, the U.S. received its highest score ever, a 76—but this score has slid downwards since. The score given for 2019 was the lowest score in U.S. history, a 69. 

How the CPI Encourages Transparency

Transparency International does more than just collect data and create colorful charts. Their website outlines the action steps they take (and encourage others to take) in order to fight for an anti-corrupt world. Additionally, this ranking holds countries accountable for their actions by showcasing corruption to the public. 

  1. Research

Founded on the transparent, focused, and unbiased approach of data-collecting, Transparency International uses the CPI as a tool to get countries interested in improving their score. The research gathered leads to investigations on repeated issues found in countries and regions across the globe

  1. Advocacy

Transparency International focuses less on tearing down the big, corrupt figures, and instead turns the attention back towards the victims of corruption. Creating networks and chapters in countries all over the world, teams work together to identify governmental and legislative issues, collect evidence, and partner with local leadership to choose the appropriate form of publicly addressing the issues. 

  1. Projects

Using their organization as a platform, Transparency International has launched several programs to end corruption. Check out the link provided to search for projects by country or topics like Business Integrity, Judiciary or Law Enforcement, or Political Integrity.

Continuing to Become Less Corrupt

Though the ranking for the U.S. has dipped in the last few years, with a score of 69, it still remains in the top 25 least corrupt nations in the world. In order to keep this status, the American people should prioritize holding politicians, local and federal governments accountable. 

Organizations such as Transparency International make it easy to see how countries are doing—so now it lies in our hands to elect officials with integrity and without a shady history. Other organizations, including Citizens for a Pro-Business Delaware, work at the local level to advocate for transparency in the court system. As members of a democracy, we the people should continue to band together and fight for a just system. 

Coastal Network

The Coastal Network is an outlet committed to providing a voice against corruption and advocating for transparency in the Delaware court system, business world and beyond.

For more on corruption in the United States, including the Delaware Court system, visit