National Integrity System: Updated findings published

Liz Brown
Member with Delegated Authority
Financial Integrity System Assessment, Local Government, National Integrity Assessment Programme

The Building Accountability: National Integrity System Assessment 2018 Update (NIS 2018 update) was launched on 22 May by Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) at a parliamentary function. This thorough update from the ‘Integrity Plus 2013 New Zealand National Integrity System Assessment’ (NIS 2013), shows a good deal of progress in the public sector but there is considerably more to be achieved across all sectors.

This NIS 2018 update makes six key recommendations on important contributors to our country’s reputation, security and wellbeing.

The NIS 2013 has become the definitive guide to anti-corruption and transparency initiatives in New Zealand. Many of the 60 recommendations made in the NIS 2013 have been implemented in whole or in part.

Overall, the NIS 2018 update confirms the findings of the NIS 2013. There have been promising developments in the past five years, with pockets of greater focus on strengthening integrity systems. On the other hand, progress has been slow in many areas and close to non-existent in some, especially for business, political party funding and civil society.

As noted in the media release:

Business and parliament need to step up to stronger integrity systems. It is beyond time for serious and urgent action to protect and extend integrity in New Zealand.

“While the public sector is waking up to the need to prevent corruption, progress has been close to non-existent for political party funding, the administration of parliament, civil society and the business sector. Unless the tone at the top improves, our country remains vulnerable to overseas corruption and the trusted society of which we are so proud is at risk,” says Suzanne Snively, Chair, Transparency International New Zealand.

Lyn Provost, Patron of Transparency International New Zealand, says “Our goal is for business leaders, senior public officials and civil society managers to recognize the cornerstone nature of the NIS 2013 and NIS 2018 Update recommendations and apply them to their organizations. This is how they can more fully contribute to ensuring that New Zealand is an open country free from corruption, a good place to do business, a safe place to travel and a great place to live.”

NIS 2018 Update recommendations

The Building Accountability: New Zealand National Integrity System Assessment, 2018 Update makes six key recommendations

1

Implement 2013 NIS. The outstanding recommendations from the Integrity Plus 2013 New Zealand National Integrity System Assessment now be implemented.

High priority given to:

  1. Strengthening the transparency, integrity and accountability systems of Parliament. Particular attention to be paid to extending the coverage of the Official Information Act, introducing a code of conduct for members of Parliament, requiring publication of all members’ appointment diaries and providing greater transparency around lobbying of members of Parliament and ministers.
  2. Achieving greater transparency in the appointment process for statutory boards.
  3. Reviewing public funding of political parties, including:
    1. allocation of broadcasting time to political parties and the restrictions on parties purchasing their own broadcast election advertising; and
    2. requiring greater transparency of the finances of political parties, including donations.

Anti-corruption strategy. A comprehensive national anti-corruption strategy be drawn up and implemented.

The main elements of a national anti-corruption strategy would be:

  1. Implementation of the policy and practices recommended by the national anti-corruption work programme produced by the Ministry of Justice and the Serious Fraud Office that are based on UNCAC and other relevant international agreements.
  2. Each public sector agency with responsibility for an NIS pillar to develop a risk mitigation strategy aimed at preventing domestic corruption and protecting against offshore corruption that could impact on the daily lives of New Zealanders.
  3. The integrity of the permanent public sector to be strengthened in a range of priority areas, and specifically by:
    1. Corruption prevention training programmes as part of induction, and competency and staff development frameworks.
    2. Refresher opportunities on relevant national and international legislation and regulation on integrity and transparency.
    3. Policies and procedures, monitoring and greater stewardship where services are delivered by others on behalf of public sector agencies, with the specific goal of strengthening integrity and transparency through procurement chains and joint ventures.
    4. More extensive risk assessment, including assessment of bribery and corruption risk.
  4. Progress in these areas to be monitored, measured and publicly reported so that compliance can be demonstrated.
  5. Public sector agencies to build and release publicly an evidence base of what works best to prevent and protect against corruption through further assessments and research about ways to strengthen integrity systems over time.

2

3

Implement NAP. The government to fully implement the third National Action Plan (NAP3) for the Open Government Partnership.

The priority in planning and implementing NAP3 to be ensuring that government agencies fully and more deeply engage with the public and civil society organisations, including:

  1. Setting ambitious targets for growing public engagement in NAP3 and polling to measure feedback on its implementation.
  2. Securing civil society, local government and Māori organisation support as leaders or partners in parts of the consultation, public participation, and implementation of NAP3.
  3. Striving to reach the highest (empower) level of the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) spectrum as a standard in giving high priority to the commitments on public consultation in the third National Action Plan.
  4. Taking steps to increase the capacity of organisations representing the diverse range of New Zealand society to respond effectively to consultation.

Public sector leverage reviews. The public sector to take the opportunity offered by the reviews of the State Sector Act and the Protected Disclosures Act to implement in full the relevant recommendations of the 2013 NIS assessment.

It should also:

  1. Introduce policies to enhance and support tone at the top: governance leadership committed to integrity, including specific ethical leadership.
  2. Ensure that codes of conduct and guidelines are embedded, used and continuously improved, moving towards strong staff engagement replacing conduct prescription with codes of ethics focused on doing the right thing.
  3. Maintain speak up policies and procedures that include support for those who speak up, and positive and prompt organisational cultural and management engagement to support the reporting of wrongdoing.
  4. Ensure policies and procedures, monitoring and greater stewardship where services are delivered by others on behalf of public sector agencies, with the specific goal of strengthening integrity and transparency through procurement chains and joint ventures.

4

5

Media play their part. Media organisations to recognise the benefits to them and to society that flow from operating in a high integrity society and to play their part in strengthening integrity systems.

The programme of the ministerial advisory group investigating the establishment of a Public Media Funding Commission to be progressed, aiming towards independent oversight of the media system and publication of reports on the efficacy of government interventions, including funding for public broadcasting.

Business and civil society. Civil society (non-government organisations and other associations) and the business sector to recognise the benefits to them and to society that flow from operating in a high integrity society and to play their part in strengthening integrity systems.

  1. Business and Civil Society (including voluntary organisations, professional services providers, sporting organisations) to use the standards set by the Institute of Directors, including the Four Pillars of Governance, as benchmarks for governance best practice in setting the tone at the top.
  2. Business and Civil Society to put in place robust anti-corruption prevention practices, taking a pro-active role in
    1. strengthening their codes of ethics;
    2. training;
    3. wider dissemination of knowledge about corruption and ways to protect against it to their staff, users, customers, investors, other interested parties; and
    4. addressing the risks of corruption in the sectors they work with.
  3. Businesses and Civil Society strive to better address the massive risks to New Zealand of overseas corrupt practice through engagement in the development of a public register of ownership for all legal entities.

6

Progress since 2013

The full version of the NIS 2018 Update includes the NIS 2013 content, updated where appropriate. This update has been produced to selectively incorporate material on recent developments in New Zealand’s integrity system as well as to incorporate minor amendments.

A 16 page summary version of the NIS 2018 Update has been published for easy access to the key points.

In addition to making 6 key recommendations, the NIS 2018 Update includes a report about the progress made on the recommendations from the NIS 2013.

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