Biden Administration Unveils United States’ Strategy on Countering Corruption

By Sarah Wirskye - On

In December 2021, the Biden administration released the United States Strategy on Countering Corruption (“Strategy”). Htttps:// The Strategy follows up on establishing the fight against corruption as a core national security interest of the United States in the National Security Study Memorandum-1 (NSSM-1) earlier in 2021.

The Strategy discusses the impacts of corruption and announces the United States’ “new approach” based on the increasing interconnectedness of the global economy. It recognizes that combatting corruption will require addressing vulnerabilities in the domestic and international financial systems; bolstering international best practices, regulations, and enforcement; supporting the role of non-governmental actors; building political will and recognizing when it is absent; and consistently pursuing accountability through a combination of diplomatic engagement, foreign assistance, and enforcement actions. These goals will be accomplished by an approach consisting of the following five pillars.

Five Pillars of the Policy

To curb corruption and its effects, the Government will organize its efforts around the following five pillars and their strategic objectives listed below.

Pillar 1: Modernizing, coordinating, and resourcing U.S. Government efforts to fight corruption. This pillar bolsters resources of the federal government and increases coordination, with the following five strategic objectives.

  1. Enhance corruption related research, data collection, and analysis;
  2. Improve information sharing within the U.S. Government, with non-U.S.-Governmental entities, and internationally;
  3. Increase focus on the transnational dimensions of corruption;
  4. Organize and resource the fight against corruption, at home and abroad; and
  5. Integrate an anti-corruption focus into regional, thematic, and sectoral priorities.

Pillar 2: Curbing illicit finance. This pillar emphasizes the United States’ responsibility to address its regulatory deficiencies and work with other economies to do the same, with the following two strategic objectives.

  1. Address deficiencies in the anti-money laundering regime; and
  2. Work with partners and allies to address deficiencies.

Pillar 3: Holding corrupt actors accountable. This pillar makes clear that the Government will enforce existing rules “with vigor,” such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, establishing additional initiatives and working with partners to encourage the same, with the following five strategic objectives.

  1. Enhance enforcement efforts;
  2. Update tools available to hold corrupt actors accountable at home and abroad;
  3. Work with partner countries to bolster anti-corruption enforcement to amplify the use of tools;
  4. Strengthen the ability of foreign partner governments to pursue accountability in a just and equitable manner; and
  5. Bolster the ability of civil society, media, and private sector actors to safely detect and expose corruption, increase public awareness, and pursue accountability.

Pillar 4: Preserving and strengthening the multilateral anti-corruption architecture. This pillar involves establishing the United States’ leadership role to fight corruption globally, with the following two strategic objectives.

  1. Bolster existing anti-corruption frameworks and institutions; and
  2. Redoubling efforts at multilateral fora.

Pillar 5: Improving diplomatic engagement and leveraging foreign assistance resources to advance policy goals. This pillar further establishes the United States’ role in working with foreign partners in fighting corruption, with the following five strategic objectives.

  1. Elevate and expand the scale of diplomatic engagement and foreign assistance that address corruption;
  2. Protect anti-corruption actors;
  3. Leverage innovation in the fight against corruption;
  4. Improve coordination and risk analysis across foreign assistance; and
  5. Improve security assistance and integrate corruption considerations into military planning, analysis, and operations.


Overall, the Strategy makes clear that fighting corruption will be a significant priority of the Biden administration. The Strategy concludes by stating that the United States, working with its partners, will lead in advancing the fight against corruption. To hold themselves accountable, federal departments and agencies, coordinated by the National Security Council, and in consultation with the National Economic Council and Domestic Policy Council, will report annually to the President on progress made toward the Strategy’s goals. By elevating its efforts, coordinating with partners, and learning as they move forward, the Biden Administration intends to counter a corruption to “create a safer, more equitable, and more prosperous world.”

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