1. Introduction

Ecuador, similarly to other countries in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region, experiences a growing disconnection between citizens and public institutions, which is also due to the high level of perceived corruption among citizens as well as to the dissatisfaction with such institutions (OECD, 2019[1]) (OECD et al., 2019[2]). Results from the 2018 survey from Latinobarómetro show that the level of trust in governments in the region halved in the last ten years, and that the rate in Ecuador (25%) is sensibly lower than the one registered in 2009 (46.5%) and just above the regional average (22%). At the same time, it highlights that 8% of Ecuadorians perceive corruption as the country's most important problem and more than half of them consider that the level of corruption grew compared to the previous year. Similar findings emerge from the 2018 "Global Corruption Barometer" enquiring direct experiences of corruption in public services and perceptions of the extent of corruption, which reports that 44% of Ecuadorian respondents declared to have paid a bribe to access basic services. These findings are coherent with those of the Americasbarometer showing that, in 2019, 26.6% of respondents reported having been victims of an act of corruption and a growing tolerance for corruption – especially among the young generations - whereas 25% of Ecuadorians justified paying a bribe in certain circumstances, which marks a 12% increase compared to 2014 (Moncagatta et al., 2020[3]; OECD, forthcoming[4]). Corruption has remained one of the highest concerns of Ecuadorian citizens even during the COVID-19 pandemic. A poll conducted in December 2020 highlighted that citizens consider it the third most significant challenge in the country, above the concerns related to the control of COVID-19 but after poverty and unemployment, which corruption contributes to worsen (CEDATOS, 2020[5]).

In Ecuador, in line with the approach of other countries in the region, the anti-corruption efforts have been focused on investigations and sanctions. While being crucial to avoid impunity and ensure the rule of law, this has not proved to be sufficiently effective in controlling corruption. Indeed, the OECD experience shows that a strategic and sustainable response to corruption should be based on public integrity, which refers to the “consistent alignment of, and adherence to, shared ethical values, principles and norms for upholding and prioritising the public interest over private interests in the public sector” (OECD, 2017[6]). This implies that public officials not only comply with the minimum required by law, but that they behave according to the values and standards of conduct inspired by the prominence of the public interest. Public integrity, in turn, creates confidence among citizens and businesses that they live and work in a context of equality of conditions, where meritocracy and efforts, rather than connections or bribes, determine opportunities. Ensuring that values and standards of conduct in the public sector are implemented effectively is therefore a necessary condition for reversing the decline of trust in government, making integrity one of the key levers of trust (Murtin et al., 2018[7]). On the contrary, the erosion of trust undermines the legitimacy of governments and their ability to finance and deliver good quality public services, creating a vicious cycle that further affects citizen satisfaction, erodes the social contract and undermines productivity and sustainable, inclusive economic growth.

The OECD provides countries with a vision for a public integrity strategy, shifting the focus from ad hoc integrity policies to a context dependent, behavioural, risk-based approach with an emphasis on cultivating a culture of integrity across the whole of government and society. For this purpose, based on the experience of OECD member States and research, it adopted the Recommendation on Public Integrity consisting of thirteen principles organised in three pillars (Box 1.1). The first pillar focus on how to build a coherent and comprehensive system of public integrity, which requires the commitment of senior public officials but also the clarification of responsibilities and the adoption of a strategic approach. The second pillar promotes the development of a culture of public integrity, which includes capacity-building efforts, merit-based human resources processes, efforts towards an open organisational culture, and a whole-of-society perspective to public integrity. Finally, the third pillar of the Recommendation calls for the establishment of accountability mechanisms through risk management, internal and external audit, disciplinary and criminal enforcement as well as citizen participation and integrity in the decision-making processes.

On top of the Recommendation on Public Integrity, the OECD has adopted other legal instruments related to enhancing integrity and preventing corruption, which are:

  • OECD Recommendation on Guidelines for Managing Conflict of Interest in the Public Service (OECD, 2004[8]).

  • Recommendation of the Council on Principles for Transparency and Integrity in Lobbying (OECD, 2010[9]).

This report focuses on the first pillar of the OECD Recommendation on Public Integrity and analyses the general institutional set-up of the main integrity actors in Ecuador in view of their legal mandates, their capacities and their role and responsibilities in integrity policy making, implementation and enabling accountability. The second section addresses the extent to which the relevant actors at the national level have established effective co-operation mechanisms and a strategic approach to public integrity. The third section focuses on the institutional arrangements and responsibilities for integrity within the Executive branch and how they enable implementation of integrity policies at the entity level. Finally, the last section proposes an action plan including all the recommendations of the report and specifying responsible entity(ies) for their implementation.

The aim of the report is to support Ecuador in laying the institutional foundations to establish integrity systems at national level as well as within the Executive branch and its entities. Furthermore, it provides the basis for a more in-depth review of specific policy areas that are introduced in the report and could benefit from additional analysis and recommendations.

The report builds on the analytical framework of the OECD Recommendation on Public Integrity and is informed by international good practices, especially from countries with similar legal and institutional set-up in the LAC region with whom the OECD has been working closely through other reviews and the OECD-IDB Network for Integrity in Latin America and the Caribbean (Box 1.2). Furthermore, it benefitted from the extensive information, data and feedback provided by almost 30 national actors between institutions, entities, academia and organisations from civil society and private sector through a questionnaire (October 2020), virtual fact-finding mission interviews (December 2020 - January 2021) and validation workshops (March 2021).

The OECD is an international organisation made of 38 member States that works to promote policies that foster prosperity, equality, opportunity and well-being for all. Together with governments, policy makers and citizens, it works on establishing evidence-based international standards and finding solutions to a range of governance, social, economic and environmental challenges. It provides a unique forum and knowledge hub for data and analysis, exchange of experiences, best-practice sharing, advice on public policies and international standard-setting (Box 1.3).

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2021

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at http://www.oecd.org/termsandconditions.