To mark International Anti-Corruption Day 2020, we discuss this year’s theme RECOVER WITH INTEGRITY: Corruption mitigation and the Covid-19 recovery, and offer a brief overview of the State Government’s resource: Building public sector integrity during times of crisis or emergency, which is aimed at assisting the public sector review and strengthen integrity responses and build capacity to prevent corrupt conduct.
“Corruption thrives in times of crisis and the ongoing global pandemic is no exception,” UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, recently stated in relation to this year’s Anti-Corruption Day theme, RECOVER WITH INTEGRITY: Corruption mitigation and the Covid-19 recovery. As Guterres observed, a global pandemic requires urgent investment in public health and economic support responses, which can create opportunities for corruption.
Today, on International Anti-Corruption Day 2020, the UN asks us to focus on recovery through corruption mitigation and emphasises that an inclusive COVID-19 recovery can only be achieved with integrity.
- the participation of strong anti-corruption bodies
- greater oversight over emergency support packages
- more open and transparent public procurement
- higher anti-corruption compliance by the private sector.
Important too is the “urgent need to ensure access to information about public decision-making on the pandemic relief efforts. We also need better international co-operation among law enforcement and judicial authorities investigating and prosecuting cases of corruption, which have both national and international ramifications.” (Source)
As we face the complex, ongoing issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the prospect of a global recovery, the UN has identified six corruption mitigation strategies:
- Emergency Responses & Procurement – Transparency and accountability ensure that socio-economic support reaches those most in need
- Public health Sector – Increased oversight and transparency in the procurement of medicines, medical equipment and medical supplies is crucial to ensure the effective functioning of health care systems
- Private Sector – Oversight must not be traded for speed of response and rapid action
- Whistleblower protection – Protect people who have the courage to speak up to reveal corruption and wrongdoing
- Gender and Corruption – The time is now to address the gender dimensions of corruption
- Corruption in Sport
– Integrity must be at the heart of sport’s response to COVID-19.
“Corruption is criminal, immoral and the ultimate betrayal of public trust. It is even more damaging in times of crisis – as the world is experiencing now with the COVID-19 pandemic. The response to the virus is creating new opportunities to exploit weak oversight and inadequate transparency, diverting funds away from people in their hour of greatest need.” – UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, Statement on corruption in the context of COVID-19
Governments, the private sector, non-governmental organisations, the media and citizens around the world are joining forces to fight corruption. The United Nations Development Programme (UNODC) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) are at the forefront of these efforts.
Building public sector integrity during times of crisis or emergency
Earlier this year, IBAC released Building public sector integrity during times of crisis or emergency, an information sheet outlining key corruption risks facing state government agencies during emergencies or crisis situations. It also identifies warning signs or ‘red flags’, suggests prevention measures to help minimise corruption risk, and offers insights into the Risks associated with working remotely, Risks to governance processes and oversight and ways of Supporting corruption resistant cultures during crisis and emergencies.
Suggested control measures include:
- provide integrity training for staff
- ensure agreed processes are followed and, where exemptions are required, documented
- obtain advice from a procurement adviser before starting procurement processes
- form a diverse team representing different areas of your organisation to assess supplier quotes and submissions
- establish a project management team to regularly monitor contract delivery and timeframes
- mandate reporting of suspected corruption or misconduct, and reinforce ways for employees or suppliers to report suspected fraudulent and corrupt conduct
- ensure activities, particularly those relating to procurement decisions and approvals, are appropriately segregated
- conduct regular and random audit and risk reviews to identify trends and patterns that may indicate the presence of fraud and corruption
- consider internal data collection and analysis to identify changes in behaviour and transaction patterns, particularly as emergency response restrictions lift, to help detect corrupt and fraudulent behaviour
- ensure suppliers to the Victorian State Government understand, agree with and conform to public sector standards and obligations outlined in the Victorian Public Service Supplier Code of Conduct.
To find out more about procurement risks and prevention strategies, view IBAC’s resource The red flags of corruption: procurement.
You can also see our previous blogs:
For more information about International Anti-Corruption Day 2020, click here.
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A participant in the UN Global Compact, CourtHeath seeks to raise awareness about the Sustainable Development Goals and the principles of the Global Compact with business and government organisations in Victoria.
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Written by Wendy Cavenett
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