By Liz Brown and Steve Snively
A Transparency International National Integrity System Assessment (NISA) is a comprehensive assessment and promotion of integrity.
TINZ continues to monitor progress addressing the recommendations of our National Integrity System Assessments.
National Integrity System Assessments are based on the belief that in a high integrity society the environment is hostile to corruption and there are few opportunities for it to occur. It is about creating an environment that identifies and disables corruption. For example, the New Zealand NIS Assessment recommendations include the development of a national anti-corruption plan, but not individual detailed measures.
What we have done so far
The NIS Assessment concept was pioneered by New Zealander Jeremy Pope who wrote the TI’s "manual" on preventing corruption entitled Confronting Corruption: The Elements of a National Integrity System. Based on Jeremy’s work, TI developed a framework for assessing national integrity systems.
In 2003 TINZ published the first National Integrity System Assessment of New Zealand. It states “A recurring theme of this study is that what matters is not so much anti-corruption laws and rules as the maintenance and promotion of a general culture in which unethical behaviour is unacceptable throughout society.”
In 2012 and 2013 TINZ undertook New Zealand's second National Integrity System Assessment. This project was a substantial commitment on the part of TINZ and its partners to create a definitive roadmap for a corruption intolerant New Zealand. This document with over 50 contributors and 370 pages remains foundational.
In 2018 we published The National Integrity System Assessment Update 2018 to identify and assess changes in New Zealand’s National Integrity System since the 2013 assessment. Its six recommendations are aimed at important contributors to our country’s reputation, security and wellbeing.
TINZ intends to carry out a full NIS assessment again in 2023 and is currently looking at options for NIS approaches, innovation funding and partnerships.
Monitoring the NIS Recommendations
Since 2018 Liz Brown (leader of the research team for the 2013 assessment and project manager/editor of the 2018 update) and TINZ subject matter experts have been leading monitoring of progress on the 2018 update recommendations, along with outstanding recommendations from the 2013 NIS report.
Highlights of the monitoring exercise:
- A code of conduct for Parliament has been established.
- A review of the Official Information Act was started but was suspended because of the Covid-19 emergency and has not yet resumed
- A Secondary Legislation Act has been passed
- Political party funding remains an issue, as does transparency around lobbying of MPs
- A National Financial Crime and Corruption Strategy is in the early stages of development
- The Public Service Act is now passed, and it includes improved expectations and ability for guidance on integrity and conduct
- Improvements have been made to the public procurement system but there is still a low level of transparency
- The Open Government Partnership third New Zealand National Action Plan has largely been implemented and the focus is now on the fourth plan
- There has been some progress on Treaty of Waitangi concerns, including Legislation enabling public polling on Māori wards
- An amended Protected Disclosures Act should improve protection for whistleblowers when passed later this year
- There has been some government support for the media during the COVID-19 emergency
- Very recently there has been movement towards a further review of media regulation
- There is still insufficient transparency around beneficial ownership of all legal entities
- A draft Incorporated Societies Bill offers more detailed rules for the governance of incorporated societies
- There is now a National Action Plan for Community Governance, and some focus on sporting body governance.
Remain vigilant, promote integrity
While progress is being made, complacency still abounds. We must stay vigilant and strive for the highest integrity in the face of increasing complexity and emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic which are breeding grounds for corrupt behaviour.