Over the past decade the Federal Government of Brazil has undertaken a series of reforms of its public sector. Enhancing public governance is a key element in the country’s political reform agenda. They aim at making government more cost-effective, improving accountability and preventing corruption.
Assessment and proposals for action
The federal government of Brazil has undertaken continuous reform over the past decade to enhance integrity and prevent corruption within its public administration. These reforms have focused on: i) increasing transparency and direct citizen oversight over public service delivery; ii) introducing a risk-based approach to internal control within public organisations; and iii) promoting high standards of conduct among federal public officials. These reforms have been shaped by earlier efforts to improve control over public expenditures and to modernise the public administration in the 1980s and 1990s respectively – as well as in response to a number of corruption cases that have captured public concern.
Brazil is a major emerging economy and is playing an active role in international fora, including in the area of integrity and preventing of corruption. This chapter introduces the federal public administration and the core integrity actors within the federal executive and the federal government. The key organisations for fostering integrity in Brazil’s federal public administration are: the Office of the Comptroller General of the Union, the Public Ethics Commission, the Department of the Federal Police, the Office of the Attorney General of the Union, and the Office of the Federal Public Prosecutors. The National Strategy Against Corruption and Money Laundering, adopted in 2003, brings together these and around 60 other public organisations. Within the federal government the National Congress – supported by the Federal Court of Accounts – and the federal judiciary provide a check and balance over the federal government and a complementary role in defining and enforcing integrity. The chapter also briefly introduces the main characteristics of the media, private sector and civil society that play a critical role in achieving a cleaner public administration.
Promoting transparency and citizen engagement
Promoting transparency and citizen engagement is considered essential for enhancing accountability and external oversight of public organisations. This chapter examines the progress by the federal government of Brazil over the past decade to increase transparency and mainstream citizen participation in the public administration. These actions have taken place in the absence of a comprehensive freedom of information law, although a draft law is currently under discussion in the National Congress. The proposals for action focus on: i) strengthening preparation for the eventual implementation of a freedom of information law, ii) enhancing the scope and accessibility of information made available through the government’s various transparency portals; iii) assessing the effectiveness of the government’s charter of citizens’ services; and iv) evaluating the effectiveness of the ombudsman system of the federal government.
Implementing a risk-based approach to internal control
Internal control is a dynamic process that contributes to enhancing integrity by addressing risks and providing a reasonable assurance that public sector organisations achieve their objectives. This chapter examines the drive by the federal government of Brazil to strengthen internal control within Brazil’s public administration. This drive has been supported by the automation of back-office management information systems and mandatory centralisation of internal audit within federal ministries. The proposals for action focus on i) advancing the implementation of risk management within federal public organisations; ii) monitoring the impact and effectiveness of internal audit; and iii) strengthening co-ordination between central government authorities to integrate risk management into future management reforms.
Embedding high standards of conduct
Standards of conduct are recognised as essential for guiding the behaviour of public officials in line with the public purpose of the organisation in which they work. This chapter examines actions by the federal government largely since the creation of the Public Ethics Commission in 1999 to define and effectively guide standards of conduct among federal public officials. The proposals for action focus on i) tailoring guidance and training activities to the risks associated with officials’ tasks and level of management; ii) linking standards of conduct to operational risks identified through internal control and information received through the ombudsman system; and iii) introducing a standardised evaluation framework to monitor and assess actual standards of conduct within individual public organisations.
Enhancing integrity in public procurement
Public procurement is recognised as a strategic instrument for public service delivery – but also as an activity vulnerable to misconduct and (active and passive) waste. This chapter examines actions by the federal government of Brazil to utilise information technologies to improve transparency, control and efficiency in procurement. The proposals for action focus on i) introducing performance indicators and internal assessments to guide improvements within the procurement function; ii) introducing clear and concise "how to" manuals to support the capability of the procurement workforce; and iii) delegating responsibility to management to conduct due diligence during tender evaluation and prior to contract award. These can serve to transform the procurement into a strategic function, strengthening evidence-based learning and improvements within the procurement system.
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