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Asset Declarations for Public Officials

A Tool to Prevent Corruption

image of Asset Declarations for Public Officials

Many countries around the world have introduced systems of asset declarations for public officials in order to prevent corruption. These systems vary greatly from country to country. The impact of such systems on the actual level of corruption is not well known.

This study provides a systematic analysis of the existing practice in the area of asset declarations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and in some OECD member states in Western Europe and North America. It examines the key elements of asset declaration systems, such as policy objectives, legal frameworks and the institutional arrangements; the categories of public officials who are required to submit declarations, and types of required information; procedures for verifying declared information, sanctions for violations, and public disclosure. The study also discusses the cost-effectiveness and overall usefulness of declaration systems. It includes four case studies covering Lithuania, Romania, Spain and Ukraine, and many additional country examples and references.

The study presents policy recommendations on the key elements of asset declaration systems. These recommendations will be useful for national governments and international organisations engaged in development, reform and assessment of asset declarations systems on a country level.

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Evaluation of the Declaration Systems

It is axiomatic that running a public officials’ declaration system represents an administrative burden and involves costs. While these costs are typically mentioned among the disadvantages of the system (Messick, 2009, p. 7), more seldom is it said just how costly the system is. The questionnaire data show that few countries know the cost of implementing the declaration system – that of completing and submitting the statements, or those incurred by the controlling institutions. This is true especially often in those cases where the implementing unit in charge of declarations is a part of a larger agency, e.g. the tax administration. The situation seems to confirm the perception that public officials’ declarations have been introduced mostly as a reaction to various political concerns, rather than based on cost/benefit considerations.

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