Today’s Opinion: Integrity scans

POSTED: 10/16/13 1:00 PM

Say_no_to_corruptionWhen the news came from the Hague that the government will go for a quick scan we scratched our heads. It feels a bit like the cabinet, after its defeat in the Kingdom Council of Ministers, is going out of its way to show how concerned it is about integrity issues. It also feels a bit like a culture shock, but maybe we are too cynical – who knows. Now we’re looking forward to an interesting race between two investigations: the integrity investigation the governor has been ordered to commission and the quick scan. Both must be completed in six months, though the governor’s project should have a head start because obviously no contracts has been signed for a quick scan yet – the same way no contract has been signed for the National Integrity Assessment system by Transparency International.

To get a grip on the term integrity scan we turned to CleanGovBiz, an initiative of the OECD, the Organization for economic Co-operation and Development. This is what the site has to say about such scans. Read and shiver.

“Integrity scans can help governments assess the strengths and weaknesses of their legal, administrative and economic framework regarding integrity and the fight against corruption. The scan can identify priority reforms to reinforce healthy systems of governance and prevent, detect and prosecute corruption. It can also suggest more in-depth reviews in these priority areas.

Integrity scans are based on the CleanGovBiz Toolkit for Integrity, which has been developed on the basis of international standards to provide policy guidance to improve integrity in multiple areas such as tax, public procurement, public financial management, business practices or lobbying.

They are the product of the OECD-led CleanGovBiz initiative, working together with the UN, World Bank, Financial Action Task Force, Transparency International and Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives, to support governments who want to build integrity and fight corruption together with business and civil society.

Government who wants to strengthen integrity often wonder where to start and how to prioritize their efforts. Integrity scans provide a systematic starting point, identifying key next steps to improve integrity in a quick but comprehensive process. They thus help to better target efforts in order to reinforce confidence in government and markets and fight corruption in a cost efficient way.”

So far the introduction to the CleanGovBiz-initiative. It goes on to mention three key benefits. The first one is a comprehensive approach for assessing integrity frameworks and identifying vulnerabilities in multiple policy areas. The second one is described as quick results to develop priority policy reforms and identify further in-depth reviews. The third benefit is that the scan gives access to practices and practitioner networks from OEC and non-OECD countries in the follow-up process.

In “how it works” the weakness in the integrity scan comes to light, because the idea is that the government basically does the scan. We just learned last week about BS (breast self-examination) and this seems to be made of the same stuff. The government sets up a task force with members from all ministries and this taskforce goes to work with the CleanGovBiz toolkit for Integrity for self-assessment. All the OECD does is review findings and review the task force’s report.

After a final review – guess what – the task force “drafts a final integrity report suggesting priority areas for reform and follow-up reviews.”

It all sounds very interesting but we suspect that any integrity quick scan report – whether it comes from the OECD or from any other well-meaning club – will end up where most reports end up: in a very deep drawer.

If we had to put our money on any of the three now looming investigations for best result, we’d put it without blinking an eye on the report the governor has been ordered to commission.

 

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