Governments have a central and critical role to play in the prevention of corruption. In particular, as far as is relevant to the infrastructure sector, they are responsible for:
- creating effective anti-corruption laws
- establishing and funding institutions to investigate corruption and enforce anti-corruption laws
- regulating and issuing government approvals and permits
- establishing and implementing procurement and project management regulations for public sector projects
- implementing, overseeing, and/or funding public sector infrastructure projects
If a government undertakes the above actions with integrity and efficiency, the level of corruption in that country is likely to be low. If a government fails in the above actions, then the level of corruption in that country is likely to be high.
In this section, GIACC provides outline recommended actions for governments to help them reduce the level of corruption. Links are provided from some actions to other GIACC web-pages which provide more detailed recommendations.
Template: Anti-Corruption Programme
(1) Effective anti-corruption laws
Criminal law: There should be effective criminal law in relation to corruption. This law should have the following features:
- It should be clear, so that the purpose and scope of the law is understandable.
- It should be comprehensive, so that it captures all corrupt situations (e.g. bribery, fraud, cartels, money laundering). (See What is Corruption).
- It should be fair, so that it apportions liability according to culpability.
- It should be relatively easy to prosecute; its concepts should be as simple as possible, and the standard of proof should be reasonable and attainable.
- It should impose proportionate penalties as follows:
- the penalties should be of varying degrees of severity to reflect the seriousness of the crime and the culpability of the defendant;
- the penalties should be applied evenly to all types of corruption so that, for example, political corruption is punished with equal severity to other types of corruption;
- the penalties should be no less severe than penalties for other crimes of equivalent gravity so that, for example, bribery should be punished with equal severity to fraud and theft;
- sentencing should take account, in mitigation, of genuine attempts made by the defendant to prevent the occurrence of the offence and/or to co-operate with the authorities;
- sentencing should include, where appropriate, a requirement to introduce effective anti-corruption procedures.
Civil law: There should be effective civil law in relation to corruption. This law should have equivalent features to those referred to above in relation to criminal law. In particular, it should be clear, comprehensive, fair, relatively easy to use, and result in proportionate remedy. It should enable a plaintiff to receive, from the responsible party, financial compensation or other remedy for loss or damage, whether financial or otherwise, suffered as a result of corruption.
(2) Effective investigating, prosecuting and judicial authorities
There should be effective investigating, prosecuting and judicial authorities which should have the following features:
- They should be honest, competent, well trained and properly remunerated.
- They should be independent of government.
- Their officials should be appointed by independent and transparent means.
- They should be able to operate without interference from government.
- Adequate resources should be allocated to them to enable them to carry out their functions effectively.
- They should co-operate openly with other countries’ agencies to exchange information and evidence.
Criminal investigations and prosecutions and civil actions should have the following features:
- The approval of a government official should not be required for their commencement or continuation
- Political interference should be prohibited.
- No head of state or government official should have immunity from criminal prosecution or civil action.
- The prosecuting authorities should publish to the public, on a regular and prompt basis, their record of prosecutions and convictions for corruption.
There should be an effective debarment policy, under which an organisation which has been proven to have been responsible for a corrupt act is prevented from participating in public sector projects for a specified period of time. “Debarment” is sometimes referred to as “exclusion” or “blacklisting”.
For an organisation, debarment is the equivalent of imprisonment for an individual. It is depriving the organisation of the freedom to undertake business. Therefore, similar principles of justice must apply to the debarment of an organisation as to imprisonment of an individual. In particular, the length of the debarment should take account of factors such as:
- the severity of the offence;
- the degree of responsibility the organisation had for the offence;
- genuine attempts made by the organisation to prevent the occurrence of the offence;
- whether the organisation self-reported the offence to the authorities and / or co-operated with the authorities in the investigation; and
- the steps taken by the organisation after the incident to implement procedures to prevent any future offence.
(4) Asset recovery
There should be effective procedures to enable the recovery and repatriation of assets gained or stolen through corrupt activities. In particular:
- The law must permit recovery of corruptly obtained assets.
- An appropriately funded independent agency should be established to pursue and recover corrupt assets.
- No person should have immunity from being required to hand over corruptly obtained assets.
- Full co-operation should take place with equivalent authorities from other countries.
(5) Approval procedures and permits
There should be effective procedures which reduce the risk of corruption in relation to the issuing of government approvals and permits (e.g. planning, fire, safety, building regulations, work permits, visas, customs clearance).
- The number of government approvals required, and the number of people required to issue these approvals, should be reduced to the minimum necessary to ensure fair and effective government.
- Officials responsible for issuing the permits should be honest, competent, well trained and properly remunerated.
- A list of official fees, time-scales and required documents for applying for permits and approvals should be published on the government department’s public website and posted up in the relevant government offices.
- A review body should be established to which complaints of malpractice, undue delay or extortion by officials can be made. Details of this complaints procedure should be published on the government department’s public website and posted up in the relevant government offices.
- A procedure should be implemented under which permits and approvals issued are audited on a sample basis by an audit body, so as to help identify permits or approvals wrongly issued, and to act as a deterrent against corrupt practices.
- Appropriate action should be taken against any official who abuses his/her power in relation to the issuing of permits and approvals, including where appropriate reporting such matter to the criminal authorities.
- A procedure should be established to compensate any organisation which has been prejudiced by an unreasonable delay in dealing with its application within the specified period.
(6) Procurement and project management regulations
Effective procurement and project management regulations should be established and implemented in relation to public sector projects. These regulations should be designed as far as reasonable to prevent the occurrence of corruption.
The aim of effective procurement regulations should be to ensure as far as possible that:
- offers are received from as wide a pool of competent organisations as is reasonable;
- a contract is awarded to the organisation which objectively provides the best value (taking into account all relevant factors, such as price, quality, programme, safety, integrity, programme, and technical and financial capability).
The aim of effective project management regulations should be to ensure as far as possible that:
- the contractually required quality and quantities are provided
- the contract programme is achieved
- variations, extensions of time and other claims are valid and are properly evidenced
- payments are only made in relation to legitimate activities properly carried out.
For further information see Procurement Controls, Commercial Controls, and Financial Controls
(7) Anti-corruption management programmes
Government departments or public sector agencies which are responsible for managing public sector infrastructure projects should implement:
- An organisational anti-corruption programme designed to prevent, detect and address corruption in relation to the department’s activities. (See Anti-Corruption Programme for Organisations which provides requirements, supporting guidance and templates for such a programme).
- A project anti-corruption programme designed to prevent, detect and address corruption in relation to public sector projects. (See Project Anti-Corruption System which provides requirements, supporting guidance and templates for such a programme).
Contractors, consultants, suppliers and other organisations which bid for public sector contracts over a reasonable minimum value threshold should only be permitted to bid if they can provide sufficient proof that they have implemented an organisational anti-corruption programme designed to prevent, detect and address corruption in relation to the organisation’s activities. (See Anti-Corruption Programme for Organisations which provides requirements, supporting guidance and templates for such a programme).
(8) Freedom of speech and of the press
There should be freedom of speech.
The press, internet and other methods of disseminating information by and to the public must be able to operate freely without government interference.
Governments should routinely publish on a publicly accessible web-site(s) information in relation to public sector projects. In relation to each specific project, publication should include details of the following:
- the project;
- details of all major contracts and sub-contracts in relation to the project, including the beneficial owners of the organisations, the award process, contract terms, variations, payments and outcomes;
- project evaluations and audits.
For further information, see Transparency
(10) Enhanced co-operation with other countries
Preventing corruption can be materially assisted by inter-governmental co-operation. Governments should increase their efforts to work with other governments, and with appropriate international institutions, to ensure that all countries properly implement their international obligations under the UN, OECD and other international anti-corruption conventions and agreements.
(11) Enhanced co-operation with industry and civil society
Preventing corruption can be materially assisted by co-operation between government, industry and civil society. Governments, industry and civil society should work more openly and actively with each other to develop and implement effective anti-corruption mechanisms (See Anti-Corruption Forums).