Each year, governments spend huge sums of money on public procurement – funding roads, bridges, schools, housing, water and power supply, other community improvements… But with these vast expenditures, opportunities for corruption are rife.
Integrity Pacts were developed as a tool for preventing corruption in public contracting. An Integrity Pact is both a signed document and approach to public contracting which commits a contracting authority and bidders to comply with best practice and maximum transparency. A third actor, usually a civil society organisation (often one of our chapters), monitors the process and commitments made. Monitors commit to maximum transparency and all monitoring reports and results are made available to the public on an ongoing basis.
Integrity Pacts have been around since the 1990s, and have been applied in more than 15 countries and 300 separate situations. They help save taxpayer money, ensure that infrastructure projects and other public works are delivered efficiently, and close off avenues for illicit gain. An update to the Integrity Pact concept in 2016 has seen it draw on major advances in the areas of technology and civic participation.
The Integrity Pact is co-created by TI national chapters, or other civil society partners, and government officials responsible for a particular procurement process. Its clauses are drawn from both international open contracting principles as well as the local legal and social context. In this way the tool is constantly evolving based on lessons learned and best practice around the world as well as up-to-date analysis regarding the country and sector's corruption risk profile. In this way, the Integrity Pact avoids being a one-size fits all approach but rather a living tool that adapts to local opportunities and challenges.
Examples of Integrity Pacts
A few examples of Integrity Pacts include:
- In 2016, Transparency International together with 11 national chapters in the EU and four additional civil society partners embarked on a process to apply the updated clean contracting approach. Involving just short of EUR 1 billion of funding, this pilot incorporates projects across the spectrum from flood protection to road building to tram construction. First results are expected in 2017. Learn more about the project here.
- Since 2002, our chapter in Mexico has implemented pacts in over 100 contracts worth US$ 30 billion. It has also emphasised the use of independent monitors, dubbed ‘social witnesses’, and since 2004 the country’s Public Administration Authority has made social witnesses mandatory for public contracts above a certain threshold.
- In 2013, Transparency International's partner in Honduras exposed massive corruption in the purchase, sales and distribution of medicines to state hospitals that was endangering the lives of untold numbers of Hondurans. As a result, an Integrity Pact was signed with the Ministry of Health and with major pharmaceutical companies to monitor the purchase and supply of medicines in the country. This IP came into force in 2017. As part of the IP, individual Ministry of Health employees and external actors that provide services to the Ministry, such as the College of Chemists and Pharmacists of Honduras and Banco de Occidente, have signed an ethics statement. The IP has already lead to increased access to information, and increased compliance with open data principles.
Benefits of Integrity Pacts
While Integrity Pacts help ensure clean operations on the part of contractors and public officials during the execution of a project, they also yield other benefits. Integrity Pacts provide enhanced access to information, increasing the level of transparency in public contracts. This, in turn, leads to greater confidence and trust in public decision-making, less litigation over procurement processes and more bidders competing for contracts.
Integrity pacts can also encourage institutional changes, such as increased commitment to making data available in a truly open format, simplified administrative procedures and improved regulatory action.
More information about Integrity Pacts
Click here to see several practical guides on designing and implementing an Integrity Pact.