3.1 Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD)

The Personnel Department of the Ministry of Finance has participated in the OECD ethics work since 1995, when Finland, together with eight other member countries, prepared a report on its own situation. On the basis of the reports of the country reports7, the research report "Ethics in the Public Service: Current Issues and Practice" was completed in 1996. The report presented factors influencing ethical norms and compliance with them as well as measures taken in the administration of these countries to support ethical management. The report also introduced the new concept of ethics infrastructure, which is used to promote independence and to prevent corruption.

        The Ethics Infrastructure

A well-functioning Ethics Infrastructure supports a public sector environment which encourages high standards of behaviour. Each function and element is a separate, important building block, but the individual elements should be complementary and mutually reinforcing. The elements need to interact to achieve the necessary synergy to become a coherent and integrated infrastructure. The elements of infrastructure can be categorised according to the main functions they serve guidance, management and control noting that different elements may serve more than one function.

Guidance is provided by strong commitment from political leadership; statements of values such as codes of conduct; and professional socialisation activities such as education and training.

Management can be realised through co-ordination by a special body or an existing central management agency, and through public service conditions, management policies and practices.

Control is assured primarily through a legal framework enabling independent investigation and prosecution; effective accountability and control mechanisms; transparency, public involvement and scrutiny. The ideal mix and degree of these functions will depend on the cultural and political-administrative milieu of each country.

The next phase of the ethics work was the publication in spring 1998 of a 12-point recommendation. The objective of the recommendation is to help the member countries to evaluate institutions, systems and mechanisms which they use to promote compliance with the ethical norms of public administration. In accordance with the ethics infrastructure these contain guidance, management and control norms with which the ethical management systems of public administration can be compared. These principles are a codification of the experiences of the OECD countries and they reflect the common ideas of the countries on what ethical management should be like. The intention is that different member countries emphasise those goals and methods that are applicable to their own conditions in order to ensure compliance with the norms.

The principles may be applied at the national or at a level of lower administration. Political leaders may use the principles in evaluating the ethical management system and the extent to which the ethical norms are used in administration. The principles are tools which each country uses according to its own needs. They are not a separate entity; they are intended as a means for incorporating ethical management in public administration in general.

1. Ethical standards for public service should be clear

Public servants need to know the basic principles and standards they are expected to apply to their work and where the boundaries of acceptable behaviour lie. A concise, well-publicised statement of core ethical standards and principles that guide public service, for example in the form of a code of conduct, can accomplish this by creating a shared understanding across government and within the broader community.

2. Ethical standards should be reflected in the legal framework

The legal framework is the basis for communicating the minimum obligatory standards and principles of behaviour for every public servant. Laws and regulations could state the fundamental values of public service and should provide the framework for guidance, investigation, disciplinary action and prosecution.

3. Ethical guidance should be available to public servants

Professional socialisation should contribute to the development of the necessary judgement and skills enabling public servants to apply ethical principles in concrete circumstances. Training facilitates ethics awareness and can develop essential skills for ethical analysis and moral reasoning. Impartial advice can help create an environment in which public servants are more willing to confront and resolve ethical tensions and problems. Guidance and internal consultation mechanisms should be made available to help public servants apply basic ethical standards in the workplace.

4. Public servants should know their rights and obligations when exposing wrongdoing

Public servants need to know what their rights and obligations are in terms of exposing actual or suspected wrongdoing within the public service. These should include clear rules and procedures for officials to follow, and a formal chain of responsibility. Public servants also need to know what protection will be available to them in cases of exposing wrongdoing.

5. Political commitment to ethics should reinforce the ethical conduct of public servants

Political leaders are responsible for maintaining a high standard of propriety in the discharge of their official duties. Their commitment is demonstrated by example and by taking action that is only available at the political level, for instance by creating legislative and institutional arrangements that reinforce ethical behaviour and create sanctions against wrongdoing, by providing adequate support and resources for ethics-related activities throughout government and by avoiding the exploitation of ethics rules and laws for political purposes.

6. The decision-making process should be transparent and open to scrutiny

The public has a right to know how public institutions apply the power and resources entrusted to them. Public scrutiny should be facilitated by transparent and democratic processes, oversight by the legislature and access to public information. Transparency should be further enhanced by measures such as disclosure systems and recognition of the role of an active and independent media.

7. There should be clear guidelines for interaction between the public and private sectors

Clear rules defining ethical standards should guide the behaviour of public servants in dealing with the private sector, for example regarding public procurement, outsourcing or public employment conditions. Increasing interaction between the public and private sectors demands that more attention should be placed on public service values and requiring external partners to respect those same values.

8. Managers should demonstrate and promote ethical conduct

An organisational environment where high standards of conduct are encouraged by providing appropriate incentives for ethical behaviour, such as adequate working conditions and effective performance assessment, has a direct impact on the daily practice of public service values and ethical standards. Managers have an important role in this regard by providing consistent leadership and serving as role models in terms of ethics and conduct in their professional relationship with political leaders, other public servants and citizens.

9. Management policies, procedures and practices should promote ethical conduct

Management policies and practices should demonstrate an organisation’s commitment to ethical standards. It is not sufficient for governments to have only rule-based or compliance-based structures. Compliance systems alone can inadvertently encourage some public servants simply to function on the edge of misconduct, arguing that if they are not violating the law they are acting ethically. Government policy should not only delineate the minimal standards below which a government official’s actions will not be tolerated, but also clearly articulate a set of public service values that employees should aspire to.

10. Public service conditions and management of human resources should promote ethical conduct

Public service employment conditions, such as career prospects, personal development, adequate remuneration and human resource management policies should create an environment conducive to ethical behaviour. Using basic principles, such as merit, consistently in the daily process of recruitment and promotion helps operationalise integrity in the public service.

11. Adequate accountability mechanisms should be in place within the public service

Public servants should be accountable for their actions to their superiors and, more broadly, to the public. Accountability should focus both on compliance with rules and ethical principles and on achievement of results. Accountability mechanisms can be internal to an agency as well as government-wide, or can be provided by civil society. Mechanisms promoting accountability can be designed to provide adequate controls while allowing for appropriately flexible management.

12. Appropriate procedures and sanctions should exist to deal with misconduct

Mechanisms for the detection and independent investigation of wrongdoing such as corruption are a necessary part of an ethics infrastructure. It is necessary to have reliable procedures and resources for monitoring, reporting and investigating breaches of public service rules, as well as commensurate administrative or disciplinary sanctions to discourage misconduct. Managers should exercise appropriate judgement in using these mechanisms when actions need to be taken.

Current stage of the work of the OECD

In summer 1999, a survey was conducted in the member countries on the state and measures of ethics in the public sector. On the basis of the answers received, a publication is presently being prepared, which will be handled in the OECD Council

in summer 2000. The objective will in particular be to present the practical solutions implemented by different member countries to promote ethical actions and to compare the different systems. The publication will contain both an analytical section and the full reports of the member countries.

3.2 The European Union

In March 2000, the European Commission approved the White Paper on Reforming the Commission. In addition to the principle of good governance, the reform is based on the following starting points: independence, responsibility, accountability, efficiency and transparency.
The reform strategy is built around three related themes: a thorough reform of human resources policy by modernising financial management and financial control as well as new strategic planning. The most important objectives are as follows:

Culture based on service

The objective is to establish i.a. a European Committee on Standards in Public Life, which will provide advice on ethics, as well as to adopt a Code of Conduct on good governance for the officials of the Commission.

New human resources policy

The objective is to increase training available to the staff and to improve the procedures relating to the recruitment, training and assessment of managers.

Reform of financial management

The objective is to decentralise decision-making into precisely defined areas of responsibility and to establish an externalisation policy.

In addition, the strategy contains goals relating to new strategic planning and the remuneration and pension system. The reform strategy in its entirety has been published in the Action Plan, with an Appendix of the timetable of the changes to be implemented.

The European Union has already previously drawn up a Code of Conduct with the objective of supporting the reform of administration in general. The reform was originally launched in 1995 and it is still continuing with the measures of the White Paper. The first Code of Conduct lays down rules for the Commissioners, the second governs the relations between Commissioners and Departments. The drawing up of the Codes of Good Administrative Behaviour for the staff of the European Commission started in 1997. The purpose is to apply the codes of Good Administrative behaviour to staff recruited to the service of the Communities under the Staff Regulations and the Conditions of Employment of Other Servants of the European Communities. The Codes of Good Administrative Behaviour contain guidelines on compliance with good governance in relations with the citizens.

A challenge to the European Union Commission is the multicultural environment. The aim of the three Codes of Conduct is to reflect national practices with due regard for the requirements of European integration. The aim of all the three Codes of Conduct is to clarify the rules governing the civil servants and their conduct.

Code of Conduct for Commissioners

The Treaty articles on the Commission make special reference to the independence enjoyed by the Commissioners. The Commissioners are required to promote common European interests. The Commissioners may not take instructions from the government of their own countries or from any other bodies. In their official and private lives, the Commissioners should behave in a manner that is in keeping with the dignity of their office. The object of the Code of Conduct for Commissioners is, first and foremost, to set limits to outside activities which could jeopardise their independence and cause conflicts of interest.

In autumn 1999, the Commission introduced a new, more detailed code of conduct. The new code also includes post-employment restrictions for officials.
Code of Conduct governing relations between Commissioners and Departments

The Commissioner’s Office keeps the Director-General informed about its outside contacts in matters falling within the portfolio and represent the Commissioner outside the institution. It acts solely in the interests of the Commission in performing its tasks.
Departments implement the policy guidelines. They keep their Commissioner informed and consult him or her when required.
The Code of Conduct lists i.a. the basic rules on the policy implementation of the Department and the management of human resources.

3.3 Council of Europe

The conference of the European Ministers of Justice (Valetta, 1994) declared that corruption is a serious threat to democracy, the implementation of the law and human rights. The Conference came to the conclusion that, because the Council of Europe is primarily pursuing the implementation of these values, it should be the Council that starts to fight against corruption. The Ministerial Committee of the Council of Europe appointed a Working Group in 1994 to examine what measures could be implemented against corruption at the international level and what possibilities there would be for drafting laws, codes of conduct and international conventions against corruption. In addition, its task is to develop follow-up mechanisms for the realisation of the contents of conventions and other operations.
The draft programme against corruption was completed in 1995. The Ministerial Council approved the programme and gave a recommendation to implement the programme before the end of the year 2000.

The Council of Europe Working Group has also prepared a Model Code of Conduct for Public Officials. Its objective is to provide an ethical atmosphere for the actions of public officials: to formulate ethical standards according to which the public officials should act and, on the other hand, to inform the citizens of the kind of conduct they may expect from public officials. The subject areas included in the model are i.a. the basic principles of ethical conduct, reporting illegal or unethical actions, interests, gifts and other benefits, the handling of information held by the authorities, post-employment restrictions for officials as well as follow-up and consequences.

3.4 Transparency International (TI)

Transparency International is an international non-governmental organisation (NGO). Its objective is to promote the reliability of governments and to curb both international and national corruption.

Transparency International is formed of National Chapters located in over 60 countries. The Chapters are financially and institutionally independent but they have to comply with the mission of TI and observe its guiding principles.

In its operations, TI emphasises the co-operation of all the parties concerned with corruption in the fight against corruption. Its operations are based on the curbing of corruption and the reform of systems, not on the investigation of individual cases. TI considers that action against corruption has to be global and reach social, political, financial and cultural systems. In its own operations, TI complies with the principles of decentralisation, versatility, reliability and transparency. TI is politically independent. TI acknowledges the profound ethical and practical need for controlling corruption. In addition, TI has codes of conduct for conflict-of-interest situations and guiding principles for the National Chapters.

TI arranges conferences against corruption; the last one was held in South Africa in August 1999. The National Chapters form alliances in order to strengthen national integrity systems. The National Integrity Source Book is a publication presenting the reforms implemented in different countries. The National Chapters continuously design their own national anti-corruption strategies. TI also supplies various information on corruption and on the fight against corruption. It publishes i.a. statistics on the state of corruption in different countries.

According to the latest Corruption Perception Index published, Finland had the second lowest corruption figures in a comparison of 99 States. The top ten and the bottom ten States of the statistic are as follows:

The Corruption Perception Index has been published since 1995. In the first two years, Finland was rated as the fourth least corrupt State, and in the last three years, as the second least corrupt State.

Courtesy: UPSC

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