Corruption within public institutions continues to plague the nations of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, according to a report by a group of regional transparency organizations. Out of the three nations, Kenya ranks highest in its level of corruption, followed by Uganda. If public corruption continues unchecked, experts say that development in the region could be significantly hindered as a result.

The report says police are the most corrupt institutions in each country. The Kenya police force ranks highest on the corruption index of any institution surveyed, while Tanzania police are listed as the second most corrupt institution in the region.

More than half of those polled in the region claimed to have paid bribes for the purpose of receiving public services in the past year.

Public perceptions confirm the region's problem with corruption. The public in each country overwhelmingly thought that corruption had gotten worse in the past year.

Seventy-four percent of Kenyans ranked the nation as "very corrupt" or "extremely corrupt," compared with 65 percent among Tanzanians and 60 percent of Ugandans.

The high rates of public bribery are paired with a deep lack of faith in public reporting methods. Only six percent of Kenyans from whom bribes were solicited reported the incidence to authorities. More than 50 percent of those Kenyans who did not report bribes stated that their reason for not reporting the incident was due to a belief that no action would be taken.

The executive director of Transparency International-Kenya, Job Ogonda, says that ultimately Kenyan public leadership is responsible for the failure to address the nation's corruption issues. "Even if we are called upon to support the Kenyan police in institutional integrity reforms, then the political will to sustain those reforms depend on the leadership of the Kenyan police and the political leadership of the country," he said.

Kenyan government spokesperson Alfred Mutua admitted that corruption is a major problem and said that the government must re-evaluate its strategy for addressing the issue. "Our country, as we have said in the past, really really faces an upward challenge when it comes to the fight against corruption. We need to look at the strategy we've been undertaking in the fight against corruption, and study: Is its really working?," he said.

The nations' judiciaries also ranked poorly across the region - listing as the second worst public institution in Tanzania, third worst in Kenya, and sixth worst in Uganda. Kenyans reported that a bribe was solicited in 85 percent of their attempts to access either police or judicial services.

Poor economic conditions connected with the global economic downtown are thought to be contributing to the prevalence of corruption in the region as both lower government officials and those seeking jobs face increasing hardship.

Albert Gituku, an analyst at the Kenyan Leadership Institute, says that corruption is much deeper an issue than it may appear. "You totally destroy the fabric of governance within an institution, so the underlying cost you incur when you practice corruption at that high level is more injurious than meets the eye," he said.

The East Africa Bribery Index 2009 was a joint project of Transparency International-Kenya, Transparency International-Uganda, and Tanzania Transparency Forum.

The Kenyan police force has held the top position as the nation's most corrupt institution since 2002.