Lobbyists, Governments and Public Trust, Volume 2

Lobbyists, Governments and Public Trust, Volume 2

Promoting Integrity through Self-regulation You do not have access to this content

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20 Sep 2012
9789264084940 (PDF) ;9789264084933(print)

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This second volume of OECD's study on lobbying examines regulation and self-regulation of lobbying. It includes chapters defining and examining lobbying, describing the role of professional lobbying associations, exploring various codes of conduct and examining specific codes in various countries, examining lobbyists' attitudes toward regulation and self-regulation, and exploring various options for enhancing transparency and accountability.

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  • Foreword

    Lobbying is once more at the top of the policy agenda, as the success or failure of public policy reforms seem to be increasingly influenced by private interests, to the potential detriment of public interests. For example, approximately USD 3.3 billion was spent just on lobbying the United States Congress in 2011. While the benefits of comprehensive efforts by interest groups to inform policy decisions are obvious, the possibility of lobbying avoiding public policy reforms and capturing the public interest cannot be excluded.

  • Acronyms
  • Executive Summary

    Undue influence-peddling – in which special interests may exercise too much sway over public policy for self-serving purposes – may merely be a problem of perception, or a more serious problem in reality, for a democratic society. A democratic government requires legitimacy to function properly, and legitimacy comes from the trust and support of its citizenry. Any widespread perception of undue influence-peddling in government tears at the very fabric of that legitimacy.

  • Private Interests, Public Conduct: The Essence of Lobbying

    This chapter shows how the lobbying profession arrived at a crossroads. Lobbying has undeniable impact on the democratic principles of equality, accountability, informed consent and participation. Lobbyists provide expertise and insights to government officials, and translate information from scientific data to public opinions into understandable terms. Lobbying can also serve well-financed special interests with adverse impact on public policies. Research shows that the public’s trust in government in general, and lobbying in particular, has fallen to critical lows in many countries. When asked to rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in various professions in a 2008 Gallup poll, lobbyists ranked the lowest in public integrity (5%) along with telemarketers and used car salesmen.Recognising the complexity of the lobbying phenomenon, this chapter focuses on the essence of lobbying and discusses the advantages of an objective and empirical definition of lobbying and lobbyists. It also highlights the connection between lobbying and the behavioural phenomenon of the reciprocity principle, and the cost/benefits of lobbying practices. This chapter explains how valuable the return can be, for example USD 1.2 billion in one case – a ratio of about 1:100. As a result, the regulation of lobbying and undue influence-peddling has become a major concern for both governments and the lobbying profession.

  • The Role of Professional Lobbying Associations in Self-Regulation of Lobbying

    European professional lobbying associations have been instrumental in educating and training lobbyists and promoting a code of ethics for the lobbying profession. This chapter presents five case studies on the following professional lobbying associations which have played a significant role in the self-regulation of lobbying:The Public Relations Institute of Ireland:Founded in 1953, with just under 1 000 members, it is the leading public relations association in Ireland and has been a strong promoter of integrity standards for the lobbying profession.The Swedish Public Relations Association:The second largest national public relations association in Europe with more than 5 000 members, it conducts extensive research and provides training to lobbyists on issues relating to the conduct of lobbying and public relations.The Croatian Society of Lobbyists:One of the youngest professional lobbying associations in Europe, it has enacted its own Code of Ethics and disciplinary procedure and has been active in promoting not only self-regulation, but also government regulation.The UK Chartered Institute of Public Relations, the Association of Professional Political Consultants and the Public Relations Consultants Association:With collectively more than 9 000 individual members and more than 220 organisational members, they constitute the three premier lobbying associations in the UK with ample experience in education, training and self-regulation of the public relations and lobbying profession.The Society of European Affairs Professionals:The largest lobbying association in Brussels, it focuses on developing professional standards for lobbying the European Union institutions and was influential in the adoption of the European Transparency Initiative.

  • Codes of Conduct for Lobbyists

    Considered as the least coercive means of regulating lobbying, codes of conduct for lobbyists constitute a valuable instrument in providing meaningful and concrete guidance on how to conduct lobbying without unwittingly falling into unethical situations.This chapter provides an overview of the evolution of ethic codes from general and grand principles of morality to more specific behavioural codes of conduct. The chapter shows how more recently, professional lobbying associations and public relation associations in Europe have tailored ethics rules to address specific concerns of the lobbying profession. The chapter ends by reviewing the effectiveness of codes of conduct and outlining the necessary elements for a successful ethics code.

  • Lobbyist Regulatory Regimes in Europe

    This chapter outlines major developments and trends in lobbyist regulatory regimes in selected European countries, the European Parliament and the European Commission.As indicated in the chapter, the scope and reach of European regulations are considerably limited than similar regulations in the United States and Canada. For example, most lobbyists registries are voluntary (European Commission and European Parliament, France, Germany, Hungary) and constitute primarily a registration system to enter Parliamentary buildings. Moreover, voluntary registration has not received a significant response from lobbyists. For example, some 5 102 individuals and 1 871 organisations registered with the European Parliament for passes, even though there are an estimated 15 000 lobbyists active in Brussels.The chapter also notes an important development in France with the recognition of the lobbying profession. Previously, the lobbying phenomenon was not recognised in France on the grounds that parliamentarians are elected to serve the general interest and should not represent special/group interests.

  • Lobbyists' Attitudes Toward Self-Regulation and Regulation of Lobbying in Europe

    This chapter presents the results of the most comprehensive survey to date of attitudes among lobbyists towards self-regulation and regulation of the lobbying profession in Europe. Lobbyists responded to questions concerning codes of conduct, the extent of the influence-peddling problem, transparency, and regulation of the lobbying activity.Results show that the great majority (90%) of lobbyists are aware of the negative public perception concerning the lobbying profession and that transparency of their activities is useful in addressing actual or perceived problems of inappropriate influence-peddling by lobbyists. Surprisingly, only the minority of lobbyists surveyed (26.5%) believe that a government regulation of lobbying would not improve transparency and accountability in policy-making.Moreover, responses to the survey show that the most common form of ethics guidance among lobbyists is codes of conduct. Nearly all lobbyists surveyed (91%) indicated that they are subject to a code of conduct, most commonly an ethics code of a lobbying association. Very few respondents said they are subject to a government code of conduct.The chapter also notes that although it is widely assumed that professional lobbyists in Europe tend to oppose the creation of a lobbyist registry and publicly disclose their lobbying activity, the survey evidences that lobbyists are in fact willing to participate in a registry, even a mandatory one (61%), and disclose the information publicly on the Internet (82%). There are diverse views, however, about which lobbyists and what activities should be disclosed to the public and who should manage the transparency programme. Contextual features, such as trust in public institutions and level of compliance, are determining factors in the choice of preference by lobbyists.

  • Conclusion: Options for Enhancing Transparency and Accountability through Self-Regulation and Regulation of Lobbying

    This final chapter outlines various options available for self-regulation and government regulation of the lobbying profession and the ways to find the appropriate balance between them. The array of effective self-regulatory institutional mechanisms developed in Europe are analysed, such as the adoption of codes of conduct and making them mandatory, the strengthening of enforcement mechanisms, and the imposition of a mandatory system of lobbyist registration and internet disclosure of activities.The chapter also recognises that self-regulation may not be effective in all situations and describes the ways in which regulation may enhance transparency and accountability. The regimes applied in the United States and Canada are highlighted as good practices for enhancing transparency in registration and disclosure as they provide broad, yet fairly clear lines distinguishing who must register and what information must be disclosed.The chapter also addresses measures aimed at public officials, such as restrictions on conflicts of interest, financial disclosure of investments and properties owned by government officials which have proved effective to reduce influence-peddling and building public trust in government.

  • Survey Questions

    The survey on lobbyist attitudes was conducted in February 2009 by Dr. Craig Holman of Public Citizen and Thomas Susman of the American Bar Association, Washington DC for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The survey consists of 16 brief multiple choice questions seeking opinion on lobbying regulation and self-regulation. Identity was not recorded at any point, and answers have been kept strictly confidential.

  • Code of Lisbon

    In the practice of his profession, the public relations practitioner undertakes to respect the principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, in particular, to freedom of expression and freedom of the press which affect the right of the individual to receive information. He likewise undertakes to act in accordance with the public interest and not to harm the dignity or integrity of the individual.

  • Code of Brussels
  • Association of Professional Political Consultants Code of Conduct

    This Code of Conduct covers the activities of regulated political consultants, defined as APPC member companies, their staff and non-executive consultants, in relation to all United Kingdom, English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland central, regional and local government bodies and agencies, public bodies and political parties (hereinafter institutions of Government). This Code applies equally to all clients, whether or not fee-paying.

  • Persons and Organisations Interviewed in the Course of this Study
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