Fighting corruption in the public sector
Integrity in customs: Taking stock of good practices
The G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group requested the OECD to prepare a Compendium of good practices to strengthen integrity in customs, based on a questionnaire developed under the leadership of Mexico.
This is an important endeavour by both the G20 and the OECD, as customs administrations play an essential role in facilitating global trade while reinforcing integrity in cross-border exchanges and collecting public revenue. Evidence shows that addressing lack of integrity in customs can create significant benefits for the public and private sectors, as well as society as a whole.
G20 countries’ responses to the questionnaire and the follow-up discussions with customs administrations’ staff have shown the extent of the progress achieved by G20 countries, while pointing at potential areas that could be further strengthened. Some of the main findings highlight significant progress in the following areas:
- Strengthening control environments with respect to promoting integrity, including by allowing legislative oversight, communications strategies to strengthen the “tone at the top” on integrity, and the development of anti-corruption and risk assessment strategies;
- Ratifying both the Harmonised System Convention and the WCO Revised Kyoto Convention;
- Simplifying customs procedures to increase effectiveness and reducing opportunities for rent seeking, including through establishing a dedicated unit for assessing policy effectiveness, conducting ongoing performance reviews, and making good use of automated systems to enhance effectiveness and internal controls;
- Increasing predictability and accountability in customs procedures, including through large public awareness campaigns of main customs rules, procedures and tariffs; appropriate guidance of discretionary powers; and guaranteeing the security and confidentiality of commercial and personal information of customs users;
- Promoting effective whistleblower communication channels to enhance internal audits;
- Allowing for effective communications channels with the private sector to proactively address emerging issues.
POTENTIAL FOR IMPROVEMENT
However, there are areas where G20 customs administrations could achieve further progress, including through:
- Further integrating integrity risks in customs administrations’ overall risk assessments;
- Boosting a culture of integrity and performance within customs by including integrity in performance appraisals, promoting employee involvement in finding solutions to potential integrity risks, and promoting open organisational cultures where employees trust they can raise ethical concerns or potential wrongdoing without being unduly exposed to reprisals;
- Conducting effective security checks both upon recruitment as well as on an ongoing basis thereafter.
The OECD remains committed to support the implementation of good integrity practices by providing adapted guidance and supporting carving out every step of the implementation process, building on the foundations of a comprehensive integrity system that is essential to building a culture of integrity within customs. This Compendium will constitute one of the cornerstones of future work on customs integrity by the OECD.