An anti-corruption organization has released its annual corruption index at media briefings in several world capitals. In terms of the amounts of money involved, corruption is most pervasive in the process of awarding government contracts, particularly in developing countries.

Transparency International says corruption flourishes where the rule of law is not supported and the news media restricted. It also thrives where organized crime is unchecked and government regulation weak.

Now in its 10th year, Transparency International says while progress has been made there is enormous work still to be done. In particular, it says, rich countries need to provide practical support to developing-country governments that demonstrate the political will to fight corruption.

Corruption is most pervasive in the awarding of government contracts. Nancy Boswell, the head of Transparency International in the United States, says procurement and investment contracts need to be made public.

"Many governments put confidentiality clauses into their contracts with companies so that the companies are not permitted legally to disclose the payments they are making to those governments," he said. "This insures a closed circuit, where governments can help themselves if they want to."

Michael Hershman of the U.S. chapter of Transparency says rich countries are not free of corruption. He says while Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development agreed to an anti-corruption code, offenders have not been prosecuted.

"They [these codes] have not led to prosecutions," he said. "There has been no evidence of widespread enforcement of these conventions. And so there is beginning to be a credibility problem."

While he makes no allegations of wrongdoing, Mr. Hershman expresses concern at what he says are less than transparent reconstruction contracts in Iraq that have been awarded by U.S. authorities. Too many of those deals with the U.S. aid agency, he says, have involved single company, non-competitive bidding.

Transparency International says throughout the world there needs to be increased educati`on on ethics and the difference between right and wrong.