- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 4, 2013

As far as corruption goes, you can’t get any worse than Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia, a just-released survey of 177 nations from the group Transparency International revealed. But America could stand to do a lot better, ranking only 19 out of 177 for transparent and honest governance in this latest survey.

The 2013 Corruption Perception Index rates countries on a scale of zero to 100, with 100 being a “clean” star — meaning, the country’s government is open, transparent and honest, CNN reported.

But that rating is rarely achieved. In this most recent survey, more than two-thirds of the countries scored below 50, tending toward the highly corrupt side of the scale, CNN said. Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia all tied, at 8 points.

“All countries still face the threat of corruption at all levels of government, from the issuing of local permits to the enforcement of laws and regulations,” said Huguette Labelle, the chairman of Transparency International, in a statement reported by CNN.

Among the best: Denmark and New Zealand each received scores of 91.

Several nations improved and rose in the rankings: Greece rose 4 points to 40, CNN said. Brunei, Laos, Senegal, Nepal, Estonia, Lesotho and Latvia improved.

The United Kingdom, at 76, rose from 17th place among the 177 nations to 14th place, CNN reported.

The United States stayed steady, with a score of 73 — and a rank of 19 among the 177 countries, same as last year. By comparison, Australia — with 81 points — dropped two places, to ninth, CNN reported.

The survey considers a range of factors in determining its corruption rating, from a government’s lack of accountability to its laws guiding public officials’ behaviors.