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10.8. Do review mechanisms exist to assess the performance of laws and regulations on anti-corruption and integrity?
Rationale for the question
Independent review is essential to help enforce laws and regulations on anti-corruption and integrity. In general, the legislative branch undertakes reviews of public service activities. Other common types of evaluation range from external independent investigation by the Ombudsman or the Inspector General to specific judicial or ethics reviews. In addition, monitoring compliance may be based on internal controls, widely used to detect individual irregularities and systemic failures and is likely to be accompanied by independent scrutiny which makes public officials accountable to the public for their actions. Transparency in government operations ensures accountability, helps combat corruption and promotes democratic participation by informing and involving citizens. In recent years, public access to official information has significantly improved, in particular with the development of freedom of information legislation and the growing use of electronic procedures. Coupled with an increasingly active media and well-organised interest groups, this has led to more vigilant public scrutiny over public officials’ behaviour.
Related PFI questions:
Question 2.1 on an investment climate strategy
Question 6.1 on a regulatory framework for corporate governance
Policy practices to scrutinise
The question focuses upon domestic mechanisms capable of assessing the performance of laws and regulations on anti-corruption and integrity. The PFI user will need to consider the bodies or office holders holding such functions and their level of independence, their competence over such matters and the outcome of any assessments.
The PFI user should examine the following criteria and indicators:
The existence of review mechanisms may depend upon the constitutional framework, such as the existence and role of parliamentary committees, corporate governance commissions or public ombudsmen. Judicial decisions on corruption and integrity cases can be useful indicators of the clarity of applicable laws and regulations and the frequency of their use. This information needs to be supplemented, however, by other independent mechanisms to assess the operation and implementation of anti-corruption and integrity legislation. These might include ‘passive’ reporting requirements for bodies that play a role in fighting against corruption, such as the submission of annual written reports to parliament. More ‘active’ mechanisms could include the establishment of independent officers capable of overseeing and investigating the conduct and overall operation of bodies responsible for fighting corruption, so long as this oversight does not interfere with the independence of such bodies.
Review mechanisms could also consider the following: prosecutions and any difficulties experienced in achieving convictions; penalties imposed upon conviction, as well as the confiscation of bribes and their proceeds, and whether these have met the legislators’ intentions; the application of pre-trial search and seizure procedures or mechanisms for pre-trial confiscation; the existence and nature of auditor and financial institution reports on threshold or suspicious transactions; the nature and operation of internal company controls; or the number and type of tax claims made in circumstances where claims have been determined to amount to bribes.
Assessing the performance of laws and regulations on anti-corruption and integrity should not be restricted to action by the State. The media, non-governmental organisations and individuals can help to identify deficiencies in the performance of laws and regulations or ways in which they might be improved. To take advantage of these insights, regular review mechanisms could include, for example, the opportunity for submissions by the public to be provided to a parliamentary review committee.
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