Emil Moschella, Executive Director of the Rutgers Center for Government Compliance and Ethics, and I have filed comments with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Council on Public Integrity, making some provocative suggestions on the Council’s draft Recommendation on Public Integrity. The OECD is a forum where the governments of 34 democracies with market economies work to promote economic growth, prosperity, and sustainable development.
The Recommendation deals with promoting integrity in government, with an emphasis on the use of management techniques. We are basically saying that those in government should apply the same techniques they tell those of us in the business world to use.
Consider, for example, the area of government corruption. It takes at least two to have a bribe – a giver and a receiver. Company compliance programs deal with the givers; government should be using those same management techniques to deal with the potential receivers. We also remind governments that when they undercut compliance programs with negative steps like misapplied privacy rules on helplines, or agencies like the US’s NLRB senselessly attacking company codes of conduct, they are hurting the fight against corruption and other wrongdoing, and thus hurting all of us.
Emil and I suggest:
1. The Council should use the concept of a compliance and ethics (“C&E”) program, as widely applied globally, as a starting point and model. C&E programs are already widespread – why reinvent the concepts?
2. The Council should consider using the OECD Working Group on Bribery’s Good Practice Guidance modified to address public integrity and public sector entities. These are good standards for compliance programs – why not use them?
3. The Recommendation should include examples to illustrate how the suggestions in the Recommendation would work on a best practice basis.
4. The Council should include public international organizations, such as the OECD, in the scope of the Recommendation. We think it is good for those making recommendations to follow their own advice.
5. The Recommendation should call on the public sector to promote C&E in the private sector to protect public integrity. If we want honest government it helps to promote integrity in the private sector, and C&E programs there help protect everyone.
6. The Council should advise states not to take actions that undercut C&E programs anywhere, whether in the private sector or the public sector. There have been some terribly ill-advised actions by governments that hurt C&E programs. Why have one part of government undermining something that another part is promoting?
7. The Council should form an ongoing working group to promote and implement the Recommendation. The Recommendation is good, and should have some ongoing life.
8. The Rutgers Center for Government Compliance and Ethics offers an important resource for development of public integrity programs. The Rutgers resource is a one-of-a-kind source for guidance on how government agencies can implement their own, internal C&E programs.
The filing can be downloaded here.
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