Chapter 1. Ensuring a comprehensive and coherent public integrity system in Colombia

The experience of OECD countries shows that effective institutional arrangements and co-ordination are key elements in enhancing public sector integrity and preventing and combating corruption. Taking into account the 2016 Peace Agreement, this chapter analyses the current institutional arrangement of the Colombian public integrity system and provides recommendations to enhance co-ordination and ensure impact.

  

Corruption and lack of integrity in public decision-making are a threat to inclusive growth, undermine the values of democracy and trust in governments, and impede an effective delivery of public services. While cases of corruption need to be investigated and sanctioned, more in-depth preventive actions are necessary to address systemic and institutional weaknesses that facilitate corruption in the first place. Put differently, countries face the challenge to move from a reactive “culture of cases” to a proactive “culture of integrity”.

Given the complexity and wide variety of integrity breaches and corrupt practices, a preventive approach to corruption requires a coherent and effective public integrity system. Indeed, managing public integrity is not only a responsibility of a specialised anti-corruption body, but also a responsibility of all organisations within the public sector. The private sector, civil society and citizens also share a responsibility in tackling corruption and ensuring public integrity, defined by the OECD as the consistent alignment of, and adherence to, shared ethical values, principles and norms for upholding and prioritising the public interest over private interests (OECD, 2017d).

Country practices and experiences show that an effective public integrity system requires demonstrating commitment at the highest political and management levels of the public sector. Moreover, it also requires clarifying institutional responsibilities at the relevant levels (organisational, subnational or national, and sectors) for designing, leading and implementing the elements of the integrity system which will ultimately serve to ensure appropriate mandates and capacities to fulfil these responsibilities. Since the promotion of integrity involves many different actors, mechanisms for horizontal and vertical co-operation between the actors, sectors and sub-national levels have to be put in place in order to avoid fragmentation, overlap and gaps. This will, support coherence and allow for sharing and building on lessons learned from good practices.

Over the past decade, Colombia has adopted comprehensive measures aimed at consolidating the legal framework to enhance integrity. Law 1474 of 2011, the Anti-corruption Statute (Estatuto Anticorrupción), redefines the legal framework to fight corruption and seeks to strengthen mechanisms to prevent, investigate and punish acts of corruption and enhance the effectiveness of public control. At the policy level, the Comprehensive Public Anti-corruption Policy (Política Pública Integral Anticorrupción, PPIA, document of the National Council for Economic and Social Policy, Consejo Nacional de Política Económica y Social, CONPES 167) developed the main framework to fight corruption for the period 2013–2017, and is designed around five main strategies: (1) improve access and quality of public information to prevent corruption; (2) improve public management tools to prevent corruption; (3) increase the incidence of social control in the fight against corruption; (4) promote integrity and a culture of legality in the State and society; and (5) reduce impunity in corruption. In the construction of a new Comprehensive Public Anti-corruption Policy, it would be important that the Government of Colombia incorporates, to the extent possible, the recommendations of the present Integrity Review.

At the institutional level, according to Law 1474 of 2011, the special bodies for the fight against corruption are: the National Moralisation Commission (Comisión Nacional de Moralización, CNM); the Regional Moralisation Commissions (Comisiones Regionales de Moralización, CRM); the National Citizens Committee for the Fight against Corruption (Comisión Nacional Ciudadana para la Lucha Contra la Corrupción, CNCLCC); and the Transparency Secretariat. In addition, the Administrative Department of the Public Service (Departamento Administrativo de la Función Pública, DAFP) is playing a key role through its core mandates on public management, human resource management, organisational development, and internal control. Chapter 2 on promoting public ethics in the public administration, conflict-of-interest management, and asset declarations, and Chapter 3 on internal control and risk management, are entirely dedicated to the DAFP’s mandate, capacities and current policies. An overview of these main actors is provided in Box 1.1.

Box 1.1. Key actors in the Colombian Public Integrity System

The National Moralisation Commission (CNM) is a high level mechanism to co-ordinate strategies to prevent and fight corruption. The CNM is a multipartite body composed of 13 members: the President of the Republic; the Inspector General (Procuraduría General de la Nación); the Prosecutor General (Fiscalía General de la Nación); the Comptroller General (Contraloría General de la República); the Auditor General (Auditoría General de la República); the National Ombudsman (Defensoría del Pueblo); the Secretary of Transparency; the President of the Congress; the President of the Senate; the President of the Supreme Court; the President of the Council of the State (Consejo de Estado); the Minister of Justice; and the Minister of the Interior. The CNM must ensure information and data exchange among the aforementioned bodies, establish indicators to assess transparency in the public administration, and adopt an annual strategy to promote ethical conduct in the public administration. The Commission issues reports and publishes the minutes of the meetings.

In addition, the CNM provides guidelines to be implemented by the Regional Moralisation Commissions (CRM) at sub-national level (Departments). The CRMs are co-ordination bodies comprising the regional representatives of the Inspector General (Procuraduría General de la Nación); the Prosecutor General (Fiscalía General de la Nación); the Comptroller General (Contraloría General de la República); the Council of the Judiciary (Consejo Seccional de la Judicatura); and the Departmental, Municipal and District Comptroller (Contraloría Departamental, Municipal y Distrital). In addition, other entities can be invited to the CRM when considered necessary, namely: the National Ombudsman (Defensoría del Pueblo), the Office of the Municipal Attorney (personerías municipales), the specialised branch of the technical police (cuerpos especializados de policía técnica), the Governor and the President of the Departmental Congress (Presidente de la Asamblea Departamental). The CRMs are in charge of investigating, preventing and co-ordinating the punishing of corruption cases in the regions.

The National Citizens Committee for the Fight against Corruption (CNCLCC) is the body that represents Colombian citizens to assess and improve policies to promote ethical conduct and curb corruption in both the public and private sectors. This Committee consists of representatives from a wide array of nine distinct sectors such as business associations, NGOs dedicated to the fight against corruption, universities, media, social audits representatives, trade unions and the Colombian Confederation of Freedom of Religious, Awareness and Worship. The CNCLCC ensures a civil society perspective and monitors policies, programmes and actions of the Government in the prevention, control of corruption, as well as sanctions against corruption. The CNCLCC issues a yearly report.

The Transparency Secretariat (Secretaría de Transparencia, ST) has been established in the office of the Presidency as the technical secretariat to the CNM by law 1474 and further regulated through Decree 4637 on 9 December 2011. The ST currently reports to the Administrative Department of the Presidency of the Republic (Departamento Administrativo de la Presidencia de la República, DAPRE). Its functions include: advising and assisting the President in the formulation, design and implementation of public policies on transparency and anti-corruption; developing instruments to understand and analyse the phenomenon of corruption, including an information system and the development of research; and to design, co-ordinate and implement guidelines, mechanisms and prevention tools for institutional strengthening, citizen participation, social control, accountability, access to information, and a culture of probity. The ST is mandated to promote the co-ordination on transparency and anti-corruption among different entities in the different branches and supervisory bodies, at national and sub-national level.

The Administrative Department of the Public Service (Departamento Administrativo de la Función Pública, DAFP) is the governing body in matters of the civil service and human resources management, public management and evaluation, internal control and risk management, as well as organisational development. In addition, the DAFP is a further key actor in the elaboration and implementation of open government policies, providing tools for public entities to open spaces to promote and facilitate the participation of citizens in accountability exercises. In turn, the Higher School of Public Administration (Escuela Superior de Administración Pública, ESAP), created by Law 19 of 1958 and regulated by Decree 2083 from 1994, is an autonomous body attached to the DAFP which is endowed with legal personality, administrative autonomy, as well as budget and academic independency, which provides higher education and trainings for the civil service. In addition to the central school in Bogota, the ESAP has 15 schools at sub-national level. The National Civil Service Commission (Comisión Nacional del Servicio Civil, or CNSC) is by constitution responsible for the administration and supervision of the careers of public servants, except for those with special character, and plays thus a fundamental role in relation to the civil service recruitment processes.

Source: Own elaboration based on the OECD Integrity Review survey 2016.

Despite the reforms and efforts undertaken, most Colombians perceive no or little progress made in containing corruption (Figure 1.1). A recent Gallup Poll from February 2017 even shows that corruption is perceived as the main problem of the country: 30% of respondents say that corruption is the main problem, in front of security (18%), economy/purchasing power (25%) and others (25%). The same survey also shows that 85% of respondents consider that corruption is getting worse in Colombia (Gallup, 2017). Such representative surveys at the country level, usually referred to as barometers, reflect the views of “average citizens”. These barometers may be more strongly influenced by scandals and media coverage than expert surveys such as the Corruption Perception Index (CPI), and must therefore be interpreted with due care. Nevertheless, they still provide useful information on how the average citizen perceives and experiences corruption in a given country at a given moment in time, and suggest that the government of Colombia should continue in strengthening its public integrity system and invest more efforts in achieving and communicating results to the population.

Figure 1.1. Perceptions of progress made in fighting corruption in the State’s institutions over the past two years (2015)
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Source: Latinobarómetro 2016, www.latinobarometro.org

The following sections analyse the current status quo of the Colombian integrity system and provide recommendations on how to improve it with respect to enhancing co-ordination and ensuring impact. This will begin with emphasising the importance of ensuring integrity in the implementation of the Peace Agreement (Acuerdo final para la terminación del conflicto y la construcción de una paz estable y duradera) signed in 2016.

Integrity for peace

To promote the legitimacy of the State and achieve sustainable peace, the capacities of local public administration need to be strengthened and integrity policies mainstreamed throughout the post-conflict policies and processes with emphasis on high-risk areas and sectors

On 25 August 2016, the chief negotiator of the Colombian Government with the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC), Humberto De la Calle, made a statement recognising the importance of fighting corruption. De la Calle advocated for the Peace Agreement, especially at sub-national levels, also emphasising that the Peace Agreement provides an entry point to carry out important reforms to strengthen the country’s anti-corruption efforts:

“This framework [the Peace Agreement] is also an opportunity to deepen the fight against corruption. This is a cancer that devours us. It ruins the legitimacy of institutions. It hits public finances hard. It is a stigma that equally compromises the public and private sectors. It is true that the circuits of corruption begin in politics, particularly in local politics. It is there, within the existing forms of governance where corruption is generated.” (Presidency of Colombia, 2016)

The challenge related to corruption and the opportunity offered by the Peace Agreement has been recognised by the Colombian Government and by the Guerrilla, the FARC-EP. Measures aimed at tackling corruption by increasing citizen participation, transparency and integrity have been incorporated throughout the Peace Agreement.

Indeed, whether real or perceived, corruption is generating distrust among citizens and may thereby undermine the legitimacy of public sector institutions. Clear and fair rules of the game that apply to everybody, where access to public services does not depend upon connections to public officials or available wealth, are not only key to restoring public trust, but are also a necessary condition to create an environment favourable to investment and sustainable growth. As such, mitigating corruption in Colombia will be an important ingredient to ensure that the Peace Agreement is implemented effectively and that the socio-economic progress made by the country over the past years is sustainable over time.

Research and evidence from post-conflict situations around the world show the need and the value of tackling corruption risks from the beginning on in peace building and reconstruction processes (Box 1.2). In contrast, neglecting corruption risks can endanger peace and even lead to the embezzlement of funds dedicated to the victims or the reconstruction process. In the worst cases, it can lead to breakouts of violence or the entrenchment of illegal actors who use corruption as a means to carry out illegal activities in areas with weak and corruptible state institutions. Mainstreaming an anti-corruption and integrity perspective into the upcoming post-conflict phase will contribute to safeguarding the objectives of peace. Likewise, co-ordination among the actors of the public integrity system with the responsible public entities for implementing post-conflict programmes and policies will be key over the coming years.

Box 1.2. Integrity in the Post-Conflict Reconstruction Process

The corrosive influence of corruption is evident in a country recovering from conflict. Manifesting itself in numerous ways, for instance funding and facilitating organised crime, or hindering the delivery of public goods and services, corruption intertwines itself into the political, social and economic functions of the state. Corruption’s resilient nature means that if left unchecked, the post-conflict reconstruction phase can open the way for new opportunities, actors and corruption schemes that risk destabilising the national political and administrative systems. Networks formed during the conflict can leverage their positions afterward to entrench their power in peacetime through corruption (Galtung and Tisné, 2009).

Likewise, in the post-conflict process, corruption can multiply the inequalities within the population and political functions, increasing the risk of instability and return to conflict (OECD, 2009). Perhaps even more problematic is that corruption perceptions have been found to be heightened in the post-conflict reconstruction phase (Galtung and Tisné, 2009). While the immediate post-conflict period sets the stage for the future direction of the country, the hopes and dreams of the population rarely live up to the reality, as corruption and a lack of accountability persist or become more entrenched. This in turn undermines the legitimacy of the government, breeding disenchantment with reforms, eroding trust in democracy and institutions, and undermining the legitimacy of the state (Galtung and Tisné, 2009).

Despite the known destructive influence of corruption, evidence from past state-building examples has shown that fighting corruption can often take a back seat to more tangible and evident problems facing the country. However, both a failure to incorporate anti-corruption reforms into the post-conflict process, as well as an overly simplistic approach may result in future problems. Drawing on examples from recent reconstruction efforts, Doig and Tisne (2009) have shown that if left unchecked, corruption can further embed itself into government functions. For instance, they noted that in the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina, a “series of complications [resulting from corruption have taken] quite a toll on the effectiveness and efficiency of recovery.” Likewise, drawing from the reconstruction efforts in Lebanon, they noted that institutional corruption has crippled the country’s efforts to recover financially from the conflict, leading to a loss of confidence by the public (Doig and Tisné, 2009).

A key lesson that emerges from the failure to effectively incorporate integrity reforms into the state-building process is that integrity measures must be prioritised as an integral part of the reform process from the very start of the post-conflict reconstruction (Doig and Tisné, 2009). By incorporating integrity into the wider state-building process, policy makers can better understand the following (OECD, 2009):

  • which reforms and risks of corruption to prioritise and when;

  • which reforms to prioritise and how;

  • how to approach the trade-off between corruption and stability; and

  • how best to mitigate the unintended consequences of anti-corruption interventions.

In regards to service delivery, evidence suggests that integrity approaches should be layered into all components of the sector-based value chains (e.g. among public officials, between public and private sector actors, public officials and consumers) (OECD, 2009). This layering process involves scanning for corruption “hotspots” by monitoring the entire length of the value chain: policy making and regulation; planning and budgeting; donor financing; fiscal transfers; management and programme development; tendering and procurement; construction; operation maintenance and payment for services (OECD, 2009).

Overall, the challenge in the post-conflict process thus becomes twofold: (1) to target the types of corruption which, if left unchecked, could derail the transition; and (2) to layer integrity, transparency and accountability throughout the central process of state building in a way that reinforce stability and builds trust in state-society relations (OECD, 2009).

Source: Doig and Tisné (2009), Galtung and Tisné (2009), OECD (2009).

The commitment made by Colombia has to be followed by concrete actions. In this sense, the effort to map corruption risks in the post-conflict phase undertaken by the national chapter of Transparency International in Colombia (Transparencia por Colombia), with support from the UK Embassy and the International Organisation for Migration (Mapa de Riesgos de corrupción preliminar para el posconflicto), is highly commendable. The risk map belongs to a broader dialogue initiated by President Santos with Transparencia por Colombia and the National Citizens Committee for the Fight against Corruption (CNCLCC) with the aim to develop a system of transparency for the post-conflict phase (Sistema de Transparencia para el Posconflicto). An action plan based on the risk map is to be developed as part of the project. Colombia should ensure that the risk map is effectively used by public entities in guiding and informing policy making and that the action plan proposes concrete mitigating measures to be mainstreamed into priority sector policies, for instance justice, public security, attention of victims and land restitution, rural development, mining, education, or health.

Finally, by providing appropriate guidance and policies, the Administrative Office of the Public Service (DAFP) can help to ensure that public management capacities are strengthened and integrity is promoted in the public administration, giving special attention to conflict-affected areas as well as to particularly relevant sectors for the implementation of the Peace Agreement, in particular the integral rural development policies, political participation and attention and reparation of victims. In these areas, the capacities of the local public administration are likely to be particularly weak, vulnerable to corruption, and the trust citizens have in public institutions low. In fact, the Peace Agreement explicitly highlights the importance of strengthening internal control (Point 6.1.5), and recognises the importance of strengthening transparency and citizen participation throughout the document. The DAFP, through its guidance, plays a key role in strengthening integrity, human resource management and internal control, and in helping to develop organisational capacities at territorial level. In addition, Colombia needs to ensure that these high responsibilities aimed at making peace sustainable are matched with the required human and financial resources from the budget (see also Chapters 2 and 3).

To ensure coherence between integrity and post-conflict policies, co-ordination should be enhanced between the institutions and instruments created in the process of the Peace Agreement and those of the Colombian public integrity system

In the process of the peace negotiations and through the final Peace Agreement, Colombia has been creating new institutions and mechanisms to implement, monitor and control the implementation of the agreements. Of particular relevance are the following two commissions:

  • The Commission for the Follow-up, Impulse and Verification of the Implementation of the Peace Agreement (Comisión de Seguimiento, Impulso y Verificación a la Implementación, CSIVI), created at the beginning of December 2016 by the Peace Agreement (Point 6.1) and Decree 1995 from 2016. The CSIVI is composed by three members of the FARC-EP and three members appointed by the President of Colombia. The commission is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Peace Agreement and resolve differences that may arise during these processes. Currently, the three members appointed by the government through Decree 062 from 2017 are: the High Commissioner for Peace (Alto Comisionado para la Paz), the High Counsellor for Postconflict, Human Rights and Security (Alto Consejero para el Posconflicto, los Derechos Humanos y la Seguridad), and the Minister of Interior.

  • The Inter-institutional Council for Post-conflict (Consejo Interinstitucional del Posconflicto, CIP), created by Law 1753 from 2015 (article 127) and regulated by Decree 2176 from 2015. The members of the CIP are the High Commissioner for Peace, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Interior, the Minister of Defence, the Minister of the Presidency, the Director of the Administrative Department for Planning (Departamento Administrativo de Planeación, or DNP), and the Director of the Department for Social Prosperity (Departamento para la Prosperidad Social, or DPS). The council is headed by the High Counsellor for Postconflict, Human Rights and Security (Alto Consejero para el Posconflicto, los Derechos Humanos y la Seguridad). Its aim is to facilitate inter-institutional co-ordination and the co-ordination between the national and territorial level, and to articulate all the institutions that contribute fundamentally to the post-conflict and the construction of peace.

However, while the risk of corruption and the value of integrity policies have been highlighted in the Peace Agreement, these two new institutions are not reflecting this commitment, as they do not include key actors of the Colombian public integrity system as outlined in Box 1.1. Of course, it is neither desirable nor feasible to significantly augment the composition of the CSIVI or the CPI. Nevertheless, co-ordination and information-sharing could be achieved by building formalised bridges between them and integrity actors. Indeed, the National Moralisation Commission (CNM) and the Regional Moralisation Commissions (CRM), through their members and through the technical secretariat, the Transparency Secretariat (ST), can play a key role in promoting integrity policies in the peace processes. Moreover, they can provide invaluable information to the decision makers responsible for the implementation of the Peace Agreement. Considering the key responsibilities of local authorities in the Colombian peace-building process, the CRM, with the participation of governors and mayors, should play a key role in raising awareness, identifying region-specific risks and propose legislative initiatives at the national level through the CNM to mitigate such risks. Therefore, a dedicated section in this chapter provides concrete recommendations on how to improve the CRM.

In particular, the Inter-institutional Council for Post-conflict (CIP) will play a key role in the post-conflict phase. As such, the Secretary of Transparency could become a permanent invitee in the Council according to article 4 of Decree 2176 from 2015; this would ensure that information flows between the Council and the members of the National Moralisation Commission and other relevant actors of the public integrity system. On the one hand, the Secretary of Transparency could promote that anti-corruption and integrity measures are taken into account in the CPI, and on the other hand, report back from the CPI to the National Moralisation Commission. This will ensure that its members are aware of all relevant developments when it comes to implementing the Peace Agreement. Similarly, the Secretary of Transparency could ensure co-ordination and exchange of information with other co-ordination spaces it is part of, such as the Inter-institutional Co-ordination Roundtable (Mesa de coordinación interinstitucional) for the Law on Transparency and Access to Public Information (Ley de Transparencia y del Derecho de Acceso a la Información Pública), the Inter-sectoral Commission of Services to the Citizens (Comisión intersectorial de Servicio al Ciudadano), and the Inter-institutional Working Group on citizen participation (Mesa de Trabajo Institucional sobre Participación Ciudadana).

In addition, Colombia could also consider inviting the head of the Inter-institutional Council (CIP) for Post-conflict to the meetings of the CNM, and establish clear working procedures and regular technical meetings between the Transparency Secretariat and the Technical Secretariat of the CPI. Overall, at decision-making and technical level, the co-ordination between the CPI and the CNM should be based on concrete objectives, which are established in a work plan that can be monitored and evaluated for results to enable discussions and learning.

More specifically, a concrete outcome of the co-ordination could be related to the development and implementation of a mechanism to prioritise and deal with corruption allegations related to the implementation of the Peace Agreement, and as stipulated in the Peace Agreement (Point 2.2.5). The logic behind such a mechanism would be to ensure rapid response to corruption with the aim to safeguard the integrity of the process and contribute to restoring trust and legitimacy of the State. Concretely, an option would be to build on the existing Anticorruption Task Force (Comando Anticorrupción, C4), launched in January 2015, and composed by the Prosecutor General, the Comptroller General, the Inspector General, and the Secretary of Transparency. The Task Force already prioritises cases of corruption that require immediate response and investigation and co-ordinates on-site visits to the questioned entities to revise documents and procedures.

Related to this, Colombia should take the opportunity to decide and implement the long-discussed “one-stop-shop” for corruption reports (Ventanilla Única de Denuncias). The existence of such a mechanism would facilitate filing corruption reports as reportedly citizens often don’t know which entity to address. At the same time, rapid response to such reports would need to be ensured within the responsible institutions for the investigation, especially the Prosecutor General (Fiscalía General de la Nación) and the Inspector General (Procuraduría General de la Nación, or PGN). In addition, the Secretary of Transparency has prepared a draft of a whistleblower protection law, based on international standards, which has yet to be accepted and approved by the Congress.

More generally, the recommendations in this OECD Integrity Review contribute to safeguarding peace as they are aimed at strengthening the institutional capacity of Colombia to more effectively prevent corruption and to promote integrity in the whole of government and society.

Improve co-ordination of integrity policies at national level

The Colombian inter-institutional platform for co-ordination of anti-corruption policies, the National Moralisation Commission, is commendable, but challenges to ensure an effective co-ordination persist, and to reflect its broad mandate it could be rebranded as Commission for Integrity and Transparency or Commission for Integrity and Anti-corruption

Preventing, investigating and sanctioning corruption requires a multi-actor and multi-level approach. Usually, various institutions have mandates and functions related to aspects that are necessary to advance in this area. As is the case in most countries, there are various public institutions in Colombia that are directly or indirectly involved in either corruption prevention or detection, or both.

With an increased number of actors participating in anti-corruption, the risk for duplication and overlap augments and with it the need for an effective co-ordination. Co-ordination is an arduous task as it requires that “elements and actors (…) remain plural and different, while it aims for results that are harmonious and effective” (OECD, 2004). Clear, comprehensive, and effective arrangements are therefore of utmost importance for ensuring the impact of integrity policies. Weaknesses in this co-ordination may considerably diminish the effectiveness of anti-corruption efforts or even generate loopholes for corrupt actors to escape from prosecution.

As a consequence, many countries have established special committees or commissions to mitigate problems that could arise from failing to co-ordinate between institutions. Such bodies are generally composed by public officials from various branches and departments of government and by representatives from law enforcement agencies, local government, customs, and public procurement offices. They may also include members from civil society, religious groups, NGOs, business leaders, and the academic community. Korea, for example, has an anti-corruption policy co-ordination body composed of representatives from ten government agencies (ministries and supervisory bodies) to ensure communication between their institutions. South Africa’s Anti-Corruption Co-ordination Committee is staffed by representatives from public service departments and from agencies with corruption prevention functions. However, when looking at OECD country experiences with respect to the institutional set-up of anti-corruption bodies, it becomes clear that there is no one-size-fits-all solution and that much depends on the context, especially the already existing socio-political, legal, and administrative framework (OECD, 2015).

In Colombia, like in many countries, mandates and functions for prevention, detection, and sanction of corruption are distributed across multiple institutions, sometimes leading to structural or operational deficiencies that hinder effective action to prevent and punish corruption effectively. Likewise, centralizing all the functions in one institution generally is neither feasible nor desirable. To overcome this challenge, Colombia opted for a Commission, the National Moralisation Commission (CNM), which brings together important actors of anti-corruption (see Box 1.1). To reflect the broad mandate of the National Moralisation Commission covering prevention, detection, and enforcement, Colombia could consider changing its name into Commission for Integrity and Transparency or Commission for Integrity and Anti-corruption (Comisión de Integridad y Transparencia, CIT, or Comisión de Integridad y Anti-corrupción, CIAC). Such a rebranding could primarily present advantages in better communicating the role of the commission and reflecting its composition, and shift the focus away from the “wagging finger” suggested by the current name.

The Commission is supported by a technical secretariat, the Transparency Secretariat, with mandate and functions as currently outlined in Law 1474 from 2011 (the Anti-corruption Statute) and Decree 4637 from 2011. Given its structure, bringing together various actors around the table, the CNM is thus in itself a mechanism to facilitate co-ordination amongst different bodies relevant in the fight against corruption. The need to strengthen and focus the role of the Transparency Secretariat with a view to enhance its impact and the relevance of the CNM will be addressed in a dedicated section below in this chapter.

However, evidence from the Integrity Review and the OECD Governments at a Glance Survey 2017 shows that, in Colombia, important challenges still exist with respect to achieving an effective co-ordination between actors of the public integrity system at the central level (Figure 1.2). In particular, co-ordination seems to be rendered difficult due to the administrative burden it entails and because it hinges upon the individuals that happen to be in place. The latter aspect can be a symptom of a lack of formalised channels and procedures for co-ordinating policies, which Colombia could consider adopting in order to minimise the risk that co-ordination depends on the motivation and skills of the office-holders involved, political calculations, the level of trust, or simply on personal friendships or adversities. Even if this cannot be entirely avoided and is part of human nature, these issues are still creating inefficiencies in the public integrity system that could be addressed by improving the institutional underpinning of co-ordination and by providing transparent and clear procedures.

Figure 1.2. Perceived challenges to an effective co-ordination between actors of the Colombian public integrity system
(1 = not a challenge, 2 = somewhat of a challenge, 3 = a moderate challenge, 4 = severe challenge)
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Source: OECD, Governments at a Glance 2017

For an effective co-ordination across the public integrity system, important actors that are currently not members of the National Moralisation Commission could either be included as members, invited on a regular base, or participate in the technical sub-commissions

Considering the broad scope of integrity policies, it appears that some key players are currently not included in the National Moralisation Commission. Actors from the preventive side of anti-corruption policies are especially under-represented compared to the actors from the detection and sanction side. While this may have historical reasons, or may reflect a focus on punitive aspects when thinking of anti-corruption policies in Colombia, the current composition does not favour the systematic exchange between both areas. Indeed, information and statistics from ongoing and sanctioned cases are of significant value for designing more resilient systems in the public administration, and for closing loopholes and mitigating corruption risks more effectively. A dialogue between these actors is key to achieving a transition from a “culture of cases”, which is essentially reactive, to a “culture of integrity”, which is preventive and proactive.

In particular, the DAFP with mandates in core areas of a public integrity system, such as human resource management, internal control and risk management, organisational development, and public management, is currently not a permanent and full member of the CNM. Despite the commendable practice of inviting representatives from other relevant entities to meetings of the CNM, including the head of the DAFP, the status of an invitee is different to that of a permanent member, the latter of which requires greater commitments and responsibilities. In addition, invitations depend on the personal interest and commitment of the President, and may hinge upon political affinity or a good or bad personal relationship between the President and the individual heading the external entity to be invited.

While some actors who are periodically required to contribute to integrity policies may be invited ad hoc to the CNM meetings the OECD recommends a stronger, institutionalised, involvement of the following two entities by inviting them to become permanent and full member of the CNM. This would entail amending article 62 of Law 1474 of 2011:

  • Administrative Department of the Public Service (Departamento Administrativo de la Función Pública, DAFP): The DAFP, as mentioned previously, plays a key role in developing, promoting, and implementing or supporting integrity policies in the executive branch. This is achieved by mainstreaming integrity policies into public management, including human resource management, internal control and risk management, regulatory simplification, and organisational development throughout the public administration at national and sub-national level. In addition, the National School of the Public Administration (Escuela Superior de Administración Pública, ESAP), belonging to the DAFP, can develop and implement the required trainings and capacity building activities. Specific recommendations in the areas covered by the DAFP are elaborated in Chapters 2 and 3.

  • National Electoral Council (Consejo Nacional Electoral, CNE): As acknowledged in the Peace Agreement, a lack of integrity and transparency in political elections and campaigns may lead to a selection of political leaders that entrenches and facilitates corruption and organised crime. Political actors may respond more actively to the interests of those persons or organisations who provided them with the financial resources to win the office. Corrupt political processes threaten the legitimacy, authority and validity of political institutions and the inclusiveness of the political process. Involving the CNE in the National Moralisation Commission can help to shape the debate about preventive measures that safeguard the integrity of elections, and initiate a debate on how to strengthen the capacities of the CNE in order to be better equipped to fulfil its mandate.

In addition to the head of the Inter-institutional Council for Post-conflict, as recommended above, Colombia could consider inviting on a regular basis to meetings of the National Moralisation Commission the following actors: the Unit of Financial information and Analysis (Unidad de Información y Análisis Financiero, or UIAF); the Administrative Department for Planning (Departamento Administrativo de Planeación, or DNP); the Central Procurement Agency (Agencia Nacional de Contratación Pública – Colombia Compra Eficiente, CCE); the National Civil Service Commission (Comisión Nacional del Servicio Civil, or CNSC); and the Ministry of Finance (Ministerio de Hacienda y Crédito Público, or MINHACIENDA). Indeed, the UIAF plays a key role with respect to financial intelligence. Therefore, a close collaboration and exchange of information with the control and investigation bodies in the context of the CNM would be desirable to enhance the effectiveness of investigations. In turn, civil service and procurement are high-risk areas. The involvement of the DNP and Ministry of Finance in the CNM could ensure that the decisions and policies discussed at the CNM are aligned with the country’s policy plans, especially also at the sub-national level, and realistic in terms of funds needed to effectively implement them.

Regular meetings of the CNM and establishing two technical sub-commissions, one on prevention and one on detection and sanction, would help to ensure continuity and technical quality the CNM

A key advantage of gathering different actors together in a commission is that integrity policies can and should take advantage of the various kinds of expertise around the table. On the one hand, the design of preventive strategies and specific measures can benefit from the information on reports and real cases known by investigative bodies. On the other hand, a joint “umbrella” public integrity policy, such as the current Colombian Comprehensive Public Anti-corruption Policy (PPIA) is an important ingredient to enable coherence between the policies and actions of the different actors around the table, and to mitigate both the risks of gaps in the policy as well overlaps and duplications due to possible lack of clarity in the mandates.

To reap this potential of co-ordinated action within the National Moralisation Commission, it is crucial to ensure regular and productive meetings that build on the available expertise of each member. However, the interviews and information collected in the review suggests that the CNM meetings are often prepared on short-term notice, in part due to the complexities of the agenda of the President. This makes it difficult to prepare well in advance the technical background information relevant for the discussions limiting thereby the opportunities to have productive discussions and take better informed decisions.

In addition, while the regulation of the CNM stipulates at least one meeting per trimester, the regularity of the meetings has been rather intermittent since the creation of the CNM. The second report from 2015 from the CNCLCC notes, for instance, that the National Moralisation Commission has successfully reinitiated activities during 2015, after a period of little activity during 2014. It should be noted that the Transparency Secretariat was instrumental in managing that the CNM started working again in 2015. In 2016, the CNM has again met twice, in February and October.

A more regular and better-prepared working meeting of the CNM would be desirable. Two meetings per year, but scheduled well in advance could be preferable and more realistic than the currently stipulated four meetings, notwithstanding that the regulation could allow for additional, ad hoc, meetings whenever deemed necessary.

Furthermore, discussions at technical level could be helpful to enable the preparation of the different actors and the agenda of the CNM, and hence lead to more in-depth debates and decisions that are more accurate. Therefore, in order to prepare the high-level meetings of CNM, to increase the ownership of the different members of the CNM, and to make the most out of the knowledge available in each member institution, Colombia could strengthen the technical discussions and the preparation of the agenda of the CNM by splitting the currently existing sub-commission into two: one sub-commission on prevention and one on investigation and enforcement. Indeed, while presenting overlaps, the topics discussed and covered in both areas are sufficiently distinct and involve different actors, or different units of the CNM members, to justify separate discussions. These sub-commissions could meet every two months and be called-in ad hoc, even in smaller sub working groups, whenever required.

Technical experts of the CNM members attending these sub-commissions could vary according to the topics to be discussed in the respective meetings. In addition, each CNM member should nominate one Technical Delegate with the responsibility to internally co-ordinate who from the member should be attending the meeting of the sub-commissions. The Technical Delegates would also be responsible for briefing their respective head of agency in order to prepare them for the high-level meetings of the CNM. They would also be responsible for the follow-up by their agency to the commitments of the decisions taken by the commission.

The Transparency Secretariat, as the technical secretariat of the CNM, would shape the agendas and facilitate the work in these two technical sub-commissions, and would ensure the exchange of information between them, e.g. through briefings. The ST should pay particular attention to steer the sub-commissions towards results-based planning. The sub-commission on investigation and sanction could build on already existing initiatives aimed at promoting a better co-ordination between investigative bodies, especially the Anticorruption Task Force (Comando Anticorrupción), and ensure the work is aligned. The UIAF should be a permanent member of this sub-commission. In turn, the sub-commission on prevention could be co-chaired by the Secretariat of Transparency and the DAFP to strengthen the co-ordination between these two actors, and to acknowledge their core mandates: the DAFP’s responsibility in relation to integrity policies in the public administration, and the responsibility of the ST in relation to transparency and access to information, ensuring coherence of integrity policies across the executive, legislative and judicial branches, and reaching out to the whole-of-society. Also, the Colombian Central Procurement Agency (Agencia Nacional de Contratación Pública – Colombia Compra Eficiente) and the Administrative Department for Planning (DNP) should be permanent members of the sub-commission working on prevention.

Overall, the agenda of the high-level meetings of the CNM should reflect a balance between prevention and enforcement, and have a clear focus on enabling inter-institutional and multi-level co-ordination and results-oriented planning. Also, a fixed agenda item on mainstreaming integrity policies into the processes of implementing the Peace Agreement would ensure that the topic remains a priority and that CNM members regularly update and discuss related progress and challenges.

To ensure that the National Citizens Commission for the Fight against Corruption (CNCLCC) can fulfil its mandate and functions, a regular briefing to the CNM should be institutionalised and the regular funding of its technical secretariat secured

The National Citizens Commission for the Fight against Corruption (CNCLCC) is the body that represents Colombian citizens to assess and improve policies to promote ethical conduct and curb corruption in both the public and private sectors. The CNCLCC is integrated by representatives of a wide array of sectors such as business associations, NGOs dedicated to the fight against corruption, universities, media, social audits representatives, trade unions and the Colombian Confederation of Freedom of Religious, Awareness and Worship. The Citizen Commission must issue a yearly report evaluating the anti-corruption policy, promote codes of conduct for the private sector, and monitor policies related to public management, public procurement, the anti-red tape policy, and policies related to ensuring the access to public information and stakeholder engagement. Since 2013, the CNCLCC has issued five reports analysing the initiatives carried out by the government and identifying priority recommendations for the fight against corruption. These reports should also enable citizens to assess the impact of the CNCLCC and thus strengthen accountability towards the citizens.

However, the Review found evidence of a certain degree of disconnection between the National Moralisation Commission and the CNCLCC, and a problem related to ensuring the sustainable funding of a technical secretariat of the CNLCC.

Therefore, the exchange of information between the CNCLCC and the CNM should be improved significantly. Currently, the input from the CNCLCC to the national anti-corruption policy-making is de facto reduced to its reports, which clearly falls short of the spirit of the Anti-corruption Statute. Reportedly, in some cases, the deadline provided by the Transparency Secretariat to the CNCLCC for commenting on draft laws and policies sometimes has been too short to allow an analysis and in-depth comments. To address this challenge, while maintaining its independence from the CNM, the OECD recommends that a representative from the CNCLCC be invited to attend each session of the CNM with voice but without vote. This would allow the CNCLCC to brief the members of the commission and to participate in the discussion with the view to strengthen the links between both commissions, to ensure an effective social control, and promote the exchange of information and inputs from civil society. This would guarantee an anti-corruption policy of the State as a whole and not just limited to the government, as stipulated in the Law 1474 from 2011.

The importance of involving the public administration, the civil service, and the civil society is increasingly acknowledged. In Mexico, for instance, the Minister of Public Administration (Secretaría de Función Pública, SFP) participates in the Nacional Anti-corruption System Co-ordination Committee along with the Superior Auditor of the Federation, the President of the Federal Tribunal of Administrative Justice (TFJA), the Specialised Anti-corruption Prosecutor, the President of the National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and for the Protection of Personal Data (INAI, its acronym in Spanish), and a representative from the Federal Judicial Council (Consejo de la Judicatura Federal). This Co-ordination Committee is chaired by a representative of the Citizen Participation Committee (OECD, 2017a, see also Box 1.3).

Box 1.3. The prominent role of the Civil Society in the new Mexican National Anti-corruption System

On 27 May 2015, Mexico’s Federal Official Gazette published the Decree by which several provisions of the Constitution were amended, added or repealed. This reform first enshrined the National Anti-corruption System (NACS) into law. Just over a year later, on July 18 2016, President Peña Nieto promulgated these secondary laws. Especially, the General Law of the National Anti-corruption System (Ley General del Sistema Nacional Anticorrupción) is the cornerstone piece of legislation which establishes the institutional and governance arrangements for the NACS, as well as outlines objectives and required activities. The System is designed such that civil society is given the opportunity to play an important role throughout the integrity policy cycle. This inclusive, broad approach can potentially improve the design and impact of integrity policies, which will benefit from the expertise and inputs of a greater number of stakeholders.

Indeed, the General Law of the NACS explicitly provides a strong role for civil society within the governance of the System, allowing them to contribute to policy design and monitoring, as well as to carry out their own activities through their own Committee. Indeed, the law calls for the creation of the Citizen Participation Committee, which will be comprising five representatives renowned for their expertise and contributions to the field of anti-corruption, transparency and/or accountability in Mexico, and who will be selected by the specialised Selection Committee name by the Senate. The Citizen Participation Committee is tasked with formalising a network of civil society organisations and experts (via the creation of a registry), channelling their inputs (i.e. research, recommendations) into the System. The committee also implements its own annual programme of work which may include research, investigations and projects for improving the digital platform or reporting of corruption by the public, among others.

Perhaps most importantly, the Law gives civil society a prominent role in overseeing the implementation of NACS work. The NACS General Law provides that a representative of the Citizen Participation Committee preside over the System’s Co-ordination Committee and Governing Board (the “supreme” governing entities of the System), also comprising: the Minister of the Ministry of Public Administration (Secretaría de la Función Pública, SFP); the Superior Auditor of the Federation (Auditoría Superior de la Federación, ASF); the President of the Federal Tribunal of Administrative Justice (Tribunal Federal de Justicia Administrativa, TFJA); the Specialised Anti-corruption Prosecutor; the President of the National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and for the Protection of Personal Data (Instituto Nacional de Transparencia, Acceso a la Información y Protección de Datos Personales, INAI); and a representative from the Federal Judicial Council (Consejo de la Judicatura Federal).

The Citizen Participation Committee also sits on the Executive Commission which must produce the yearly annual report on the activities and progress of NACS initiatives. Furthermore the selection of the Citizen Participation Committee members themselves is conducted ultimately by civil society (albeit individuals designated by the Senate), arguably securing greater independence of the Committee itself from potential political influence: Article 18 of the General Law states that the Senate must comprise a selection commission of 9 experts to select Participation Committee members. Selection Committee members cannot nominate themselves as Citizen Participation Committee members.

Source: OECD (2017a), OECD Integrity Review of Mexico: Taking a Stronger Stance Against Corruption, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264273207-en.

In Peru, the High-level Commission against Corruption (Comisión de Alto Nivel Anticorrupción, CAN) is composed of actors from the public sector, the private sector, and civil society, with a rotating presidency. Non-governmental actors include representatives of private business entities, labour unions, universities, media and religious institutions. Bringing diverse stakeholders regularly together around the table aims at fostering the horizontal co-ordination and guaranteeing the coherence of the anti-corruption policy framework, but also contributes to protecting the CAN from undue influence by narrow interests; nevertheless, opportunities to strengthen this co-ordination have recently been emphasised in the OECD Integrity Review of Peru (OECD, 2017b).

The second, but not less important issue, which is currently endangering the CNCLCC to fulfil its mandate, is related to the funding of its activities. The Anti-corruption Statute in its article 69 states that the members of the CNCLCC can designate a Technical Secretariat. Indeed, the Citizen Commission can only fulfil its entrusted tasks if counting with a secretariat similar to the role played by the Transparency Secretariat for the CNM. Article 69 is further regulated in Decree 4632 from 2011, which determines in article 15 that the Administrative Department of the Presidency (DAPRE) should provide for the expenses of the Technical Secretariat of the CNCLCC, “in the terms defined by the Director of the entity”.

But the DAPRE has not provided funding to the CNCLCC arguing that this would be unconstitutional. The Political Constitution in its article 355 states that none of the branches or organs of the public power may decree parliamentary aid or donations in favour of natural or juridical persons under private law. Consequently, the activities of the CNCLCC, especially those related to the reports, have been mainly financed through the European Union project ACTUE, which poses a question mark concerning the sustainability of the CNCLCC in the future once the EU project ends.

However, a non-application of Decree 4632 of 2011 would require a judicial decision of annulment by the Council of State (Consejo de Estado) on the inapplicability of the decree. Until such a decision does not exist, the decree should be considered as binding and funding provided by the DAPRE. Also, the argument that such a funding would be unconstitutional does not seem clear, as article 355 of the Political Constitution also states that the government, at the national, departmental, district and municipal levels, may, with resources from the respective budgets, enter into contracts with non-profit private organisations of recognised suitability. This is in order to promote programmes and activities of public interest in accordance with the National and Sectorial Development Plans. This should definitely apply to the CNCLCC which is even playing a formalised, institutional role in the Colombian integrity system acknowledged by the Anti-corruption Statute. Receiving public funds also implies the need for accountability of the CNCLCC and its work towards the Colombian taxpayers.

In addition, article 15 of Decree 4632 from 2011 seems to allow for some discretion and calls for exploring innovative solutions, by stating that the expenses could be provided, without any further defined terms. Therefore, in addition to funds from bilateral or multilateral co-operation agencies, Colombia should strive for innovative options to cover the expenses or to contract out the service of the Technical Secretariat based on a lump-sum payment and ensuring independence from political interference in the contract. For instance, possible financing by the Ministry of Interior through the citizen participation fund (Fondo de Participación Ciudadana) could be explored, or a similar support as the one the DNP has to give to the National Planning Council (Consejo Nacional de Planeación).

Reaching and empowering the regional level

The National Moralisation Commission and the Transparency Secretariat should clarify the composition, mandate, functions and procedures of the Regional Moralisation Commissions, especially with respect to their role in prevention policies, in order to align them with their broad mandate

As highlighted by Rodrigo, Allio and Andres-Amo (2009), “expanding a framework for high quality regulation at all levels of government can only be achieved if countries take into consideration the diversity of local needs and the particularities of lower levels of government.” This of course also applies to a public integrity system. Colombia is a country of 1 138 910 km2, a complex geography, and a total population of slightly below 48 million people. The regions are quite diverse with different cultures, levels of socio-economic development, and different levels and problems of corruption.

Reaching effectively the sub-national level and ensuring implementation of national policies is a challenge. In general, the relationship between the national and sub-national level may suffer both from overlaps and from a number of “gaps” (Charbit and Michalun, 2009). The types of gaps in question are the information gap, the capacity gap, the funding gap, the administrative gap, and the policy gap. This also applies to integrity policies; their implementation requires co-ordination at the national level, but also co-ordination with local levels.

The policy gap refers to potential incoherence between sub-national policy needs and national level policy initiatives. This kind of gap is particularly common for policy issues that are inherently cross-sectorial, as it is the case with integrity policies. Overcoming this gap requires co-ordination at the central level and on-going consultation with the sub-national level to determine needs, implementation capacity, and to maintain open channels of information exchange in order to monitor and evaluate policy impact. The information gap, in turn, stresses the existence of information asymmetries between levels of government when designing, implementing and delivering public policy. Usually, regional governments are likely to be better placed to identify corruption risks and opportunities for more effective integrity and anti-corruption measures adapted to the regional context.

Colombia responded to this challenge by requiring in article 65 of the Anti-corruption Statute that each Department in Colombia has to set up a Regional Moralisation Commission (Comisiones Regionales de Moralización, CRM). The setting is again quite similar to the Regional Anti-corruption Commissions in Peru (Box 1.4). The Colombian CRM is responsible for supporting the implementation of the National Public Anti-corruption Policy (PPIA) as well as for sharing information and co-ordinating local initiatives among the bodies involved in the prevention, investigation and punishment of corruption.

Box 1.4. Peru’s Regional Anti-corruption Commissions

Acknowledging the importance of reaching the regions, the Law 29976 foresees the creation of regional anti-corruption commissions (Comisiones Regionales Anticorrupción, CRA). To date, all 25 regions possess a CRA. Amongst the tasks of the CRAs is the elaboration of a regional anti-corruption plan. Such a plan has thus the potential to reflect the specific issues and challenges of the region. However, until now, only six regions have developed such a plan (San Martín, Pasco, Amazonas, Cusco, Piura and Huancavelica), and it is unclear how far these plans are effectively implemented.

Piura, one of the regions of the country, set up its regional anticorruption commission (Piura’s Commission) though Regional Ordinance no. 263 of 2013, which brings together representatives from the executive and the judicial powers, as well as from municipalities, the private sector, and professional associations. Piura’s Commission is supported by an Executive Committee which is responsible for implementing the policies identified by the Commission. Co-ordination between the Commission and the Executive Committee is carried out by the Commission’s Technical Secretariat. Finally, the governance of the system is completed by the anti-corruption units within each public entity, which – among other tasks – are in charge of implementing the policies approved by the Commission; providing support in ensuring compliance with the Code of Ethics for the public service; co-ordinating the elaboration and approval of the Anticorruption Plans of the entity; preparing a report of anticorruption activities, and presenting it during public hearings.

Source: Based on OECD (2017b).

The CRMs are currently composed of the regional representatives of the Inspector General (Procuraduría General de la Nación, or PGN), the Prosecutor General (Fiscalía General de la Nación), the Comptroller General (Contraloría General de la República, or CGR), the Council of the Judiciary (Consejo Seccional de la Judicatura) as well as the Departmental, Municipal and District Comptroller (Contraloría Departamental, Municipal y Distrital). According to Law 1474 of 2011, they should meet on a monthly basis, and attending these meetings is mandatory and may not be delegated. Furthermore, other entities can be called on to be a part of the Regional Moralisation Committee, if considered necessary, namely: the Ombudsman’s Office; the municipal representatives; the specialised technical police forces; the Governor; and the President of the Department Assembly. In order to promote citizen participation and social control over the CRMs, at least one quarterly meeting must be held with civil society organisations to address and deal with their requests, concerns, complaints and claims. At this point, it is important to note that in order to have an impact on levels of corruption, efforts related to transparency and citizen engagement should always be linked to efforts in strengthening the capacity of response of the public sector to the citizen. This should also take into account that capacities, trust and interest are required on the side of the citizens too. If not taken into account, such efforts may at best remain ineffective or in the worst case may backfire and generate even more distrust, frustration, and cynicism (Bauhr and Grimes, 2014, Kolstad and Wiig, 2008).

Consistency among the CRM is favoured by a set of Guidelines elaborated by the National Moralisation Commission’s Transparency Secretariat (Transparency Secretariat, 2014), which are complemented by model documents for the CRMs to carry out their Action Plans, the Internal Regulation, the Management Report, and the Attendance List. These Guidelines also contain an overview of main challenges and good practices from the CRMs. However, unlike for the CNM, there is currently no normative framework beyond article 65 of Law 1747 from 2011 that would clarify and regulate the mandate, functions, procedures, and funding of the CRM. This has reportedly already caused problems in ensuring a smooth co-ordination and collaboration amongst the current members of the CRM.

At first sight, the Action Plans to be developed by the CRM do seem to provide an opportunity to reflect these regional specificities and challenges in order to develop and implement strategic and concrete measures aligned with the National Public Anti-corruption Policy (PPIA) to prevent and prosecute corruption more effectively. This broad approach including prevention, detection and sanctioning, is currently also reflected in the Guidelines for the Operation of the CRM, which state that the mission of the CRM is the following:

“The Regional Moralisation Commission is the unit responsible for applying and implementing the guidelines of the National Moralisation Commission with respect to the Comprehensive Public Anti-corruption Policy, the promotion of transparency and citizen participation, and the co-ordination at the territorial level of the actions of the bodies of prevention, investigation and punishment of the corruption.” (Transparency Secretariat, 2014)

However, the interviews and documents consulted, e.g. the action plans, as well as the institutional composition of the commissions, reveal that the CRM seems to focus on detecting and sanctioning corruption, and that the outreach to the municipal level beyond the capital of the department is limited. Furthermore, the preventive work is basically restricted to the promotion of trainings, while no objectives or activities are set to promote anti-corruption prevention by taking measures at the level of strengthening institutions and public management. The limited focus on detection and sanction seems to be a consequence of the way the CRM are currently designed and reflects that their composition is limited to control entities, excluding the local government.

At the same time, the Transparency Secretariat has recently engaged in efforts to promote transparency and anti-corruption at sub-national level:

  • Integrity Pacts with Departmental Governments (Gobernaciones) and the establishment of a Network of Open Departmental Governments (Red de Gobernaciones Abiertas): The Integrity Pacts contain specific commitments by Governors in areas of public procurement, access to information, accountability, complaint channels, and internal control, among others. The Network, in turn, is a mechanism for the exchange of successful experiences and to enhance intergovernmental learning. Currently, there are five Departmental Governors participating in this network.

  • Integrity Links (Enlaces de Integridad): Since November 2015, in a joint initiative with the National Federation of Departments (Federación Nacional de Departamentos), public officials have been appointed in 26 from 32 departments. Their main tasks are to support the Governors in developing and implementing a Territorial Anti-Corruption Policy adjusted to the needs of the region and to support co-ordination activities with the Regional Moralisation Commissions to investigate and punish acts of corruption.

Overall, there is thus scope for a better co-ordinated and strategic approach to strengthening the capacities of the local public administration from an integrity perspective. This approach needs to go beyond detection and control, and should reflect clear goals related to strengthening the public administration, especially in areas of internal control, human resources management, and organisational development, as in the mandate of the DAFP. The strategic and comprehensive approach should be developed in a participative way, involving the DNP and local actors, and should be reflected in clear and feasible goals and objectives, measured through relevant indicators that enable monitoring and evaluation by the DNP, CNM and CRM, the implementing units, and civil society. A tailored approach that reflects the realities, size and capacities of the municipalities is especially relevant in the context of the implementation of the Peace Agreement. Of course, sustainable financing of these measures have to be ensured by including them into the national and sub-national budgeting process.

To achieve such a comprehensive and co-ordinated approach at territorial level, the CNM should consider reviewing the institutional arrangement and purpose of the CRM. In particular, the CNM and the Transparency Secretariat should clarify the relationship between the current Action Plans of the CRM, the Territorial Anti-corruption Plans, as well as the Anti-corruption plans that have to be developed by the Departmental Governments and Municipalities. Specifically, broadening the membership of the CRM to include the local administration, in order to mirror the CNM where all three branches are represented, could be explored. For instance, just like the CNM, the CRM could be headed by the Governor, and involve representatives from municipalities. Just as for the national level, sub-commissions could be created to deal more specifically with issues related to investigation techniques and prevention.

During interviews conducted in the process of the Integrity Review, concerns have been voiced to include local administrations into the CRM, since it would entail bringing together control organs and the entities subject to this control. However, this concern depends on the purpose of the CRM, which is yet to be clarified:

  • If the primary objective of the CRM is to discuss and co-ordinate the investigation of on-going cases, the CRM should indeed be limited to control entities and focus on harmonising rules on the exchange of information and case evidence amongst the member institutions of the CRM, developing joint investigation procedures and joint trainings in investigation techniques. However, the CRM then should consider changing the name to reflect this purpose and count with strict procedures concerning confidentiality to avoid that information is leaked or abused.

  • If the purpose of the CRM as currently stated in the Guidelines is to ensure the link between the CNM and the Comprehensive Public Anti-corruption Policy, then this broader scope should be reflected in their membership and include local administration. This will help ensure a constructive dialogue between control entities and the administration with a view to move from a “culture of cases” to a “culture of integrity” aimed at deeper structural reforms.

Overall, the argument for a more comprehensive approach seems compelling and aligned with the spirit of the Anticorruption Statute. Specific corruption cases could still be discussed in a sub-group similar to the Anti-corruption Task Force at national level.

To ensure a proper functioning of the CRM, a technical support unit or person should be institutionalised, and capacities and appropriate financial resources provided by the individual members of the CNM at the national level and by local governments

The capacity and funding gap refers to the common problem that human and financial resources, as well as knowledge and infrastructure capacities, may not be sufficiently available at sub-national level to carry out assigned responsibilities. Specifically, the sub-national levels might not have the capacities to design and implement integrity strategies, and may need capacity building or guidance from the central government.

To ensure that the CRM can meet regularly and fulfil the tasks delegated to them effectively over time, sufficient financial and technical resources have to be dedicated to the CRM. In particular, the CRM need to count with a technical support unit or person supporting its work, with capacities in strategic and operational planning, monitoring and evaluation, as well as the technical know-how to support the CRM in developing concrete and feasible measures. They would also play a key role in ensuring effective co-ordination at departmental level, and in reaching out to municipalities, and to the local private sector and civil society. The National Moralisation Commission could also explore the possibility to merge this technical support function with the Integrity Links (Enlaces de Integridad).

Currently, the work of the CRM is mainly financed through the funds and staff provided by the EU project ACTUE. This financing scheme is not sustainable. Therefore, a stronger engagement of the individual members of the National Moralisation Commission in terms of political, technical and financial support is needed. For instance, each member of the CNM could dedicate a specific percentage of its budget to the CRM, and ensure that capacities from the national level are transferred to the regional levels. In addition, especially if the CRM is broadened to include the local administration to allow for a more comprehensive approach to regional integrity policies as recommended above, the CRM could also receive funds from the regional government.

In addition, due to the potential the CRM have in playing a key role in safeguarding transparency and integrity in the implementation of the Peace Agreement and thus ensuring sustainable peace, part of the funds from the Colombia in Peace Fund (Fondo Colombia en Paz), or other relevant funds related to the post-conflict reconstructions and peace-building process could be dedicated to the CRM, especially in areas that were particularly affected by the conflict. Also, the DNP could consider strengthening local institutional capacities through the mechanism of the “contracts for peace” between the national and local governments (Contratos Plan para la Paz). Finally, resources from the royalties (regalías) could be used to finance specific investment projects of the CRM complying with the relevant provisions established in the Constitution, as well as in the relevant laws and decrees. Indeed, an important objective of the royalties is to finance the territorial development of the country.

Mechanisms to allow for communication and information exchange between the CRM could enhance mutual learning and help in addressing cross-regional corruption problems

The administrative gap acknowledges that often the borders of a department may not delimit the effective boundaries of a given problem. Indeed, while the departments are likely to have their own challenges with respect to corruption and integrity risks, corrupt networks and the dynamics of corrupt practices do not necessarily obey political and geographical boundaries. In addition, vulnerabilities and practices of corruption may be quite similar across similar regions, which may provide opportunities for cross-regional learning and policy-making in specific areas.

In Colombia, there is scope for improvements concerning the exchange between departments. The core idea is to enable the CRM to exchange practices and experiences. Concretely, it could be considered to form a network of CRM. For reasons of cost-effectiveness, a virtual forum or chat could be put in place where the technical support units or persons of the CRM could exchange informally and ask for ad hoc guidance by staff from the Transparency Secretariat. Also, the Observatory for Transparency and Ant-corruption from the Transparency Secretariat has a dedicated space on its website for the 32 CRMs. This space is currently being used to publish the CRM Action Plans and the reports, and to give information about the members of each CRM. A section for tutorials to train the members of the CRMs in anti-corruption issues as well as segment in the platform for the exchange of information could be easily added. In addition, Colombia could consider organising once every two years a joint learning and experience sharing event in changing locations; it would be key, however, to consider from the start mechanisms to finance such an exercise in a sustainable way to ensure continuity of learning and avoiding that such an event remains a one-off exercise.

The public monitoring and benchmarking between the CRM could be complemented by indicators at the level of intermediate output or outcome (impact), using available indicators or considering developing additional ones

The Observatory of Transparency and Anti-corruption of the Transparency Secretariat publishes a CRM Composite Index (Indicador Compuesto de las Comisiones Regionales de Moralización) which evaluates the degree of compliance and development of the Action Plans adopted by each CRM. These evaluations are translated into graphs which show the composite score as well as the departmental scores. In line with article 65 of Law 1474, the indicators cover four aspects:

  1. number of regular meetings held by the CRM

  2. number of meetings with participation of citizens held by the CRM

  3. percentage of progress in the activities stipulated in the Annual Action Plan of the CRM

  4. issues approached by the CRM in the Action Plan.

Publically monitoring of the progress made by the CRM is commendable and a good practice. Ideally, it can exert pressure on low performing CRM to catch up with the better performing ones. The indicators, oriented on outputs, reflect the early stage of implementation of the CRM.

If, as recommended above, the goal and institutional set-up of the CRM is broadened to promote a more comprehensive, preventive approach focusing on strengthening the institutional capacities at the regional and municipal level to mitigate corruption risks, then the actions of the CRM, as reflected in their plans, should be mirrored in impact at this level, too.

Therefore, as a next step, the Observatory could consider complementing output indicators with indicators at the level of intermediate output and outcome. These second wave of indicators should be defined or developed jointly with the CRM. They could draw on information available in the Colombian Index of Open Government (Índice de Gobierno Abierto, IGA), which has data for sub-national levels, and if necessary involve the National Administrative Department of Statistics (Departamento Administrativo Nacional de Estadística, DANE) to explore possibilities of including relevant question in surveys at departmental level that could measure the perception or incidence of corruption, or levels of trust and legitimacy in different public institutions and delivery of services. Additionally, the DAFP is currently developing a Synthetic Institutional Performance Index (Índice Sintético de Desempeño Institucional) for the national and territorial level which is a commendable development aimed at measuring public productivity of public entities based on a wide variety of available indicators. The information can be cross-checked by indicators provided by Transparencia por Colombia, member of the CNCLCC, at regional level.

Strengthening the Transparency Secretariat

Giving a permanent seat to the Secretary of Transparency at the Council of Ministers and a direct link to the President would empower the co-ordination function of the Transparency Secretariat and promote mainstreaming and coherence of integrity policies

The Transparency Secretariat and its head, the Secretary of Transparency, are playing a key role in co-ordinating effectively anti-corruption policies across the whole-of-government and society. The value of having such a secretariat has been demonstrated previously. For instance, as already mentioned above, the ST was instrumental in getting back on track the CNM after a time of inactivity. While the National Moralisation Commission is the roundtable that brings together various key actors, although with currently some actors missing, such a space requires a unit that prepares the agenda of the meetings, brings in technical expertise, and follows up on the decisions taken. For instance, the unit should prepare legislative drafts; the most urgent ones being at the time of this report to advance on a law on whistleblower protection. The Transparency Secretariat has already prepared a draft based on international standards, and on regulating lobbying, an area on which the Anti-corruption Statute has been largely silent. Likewise, the recommendations presented in the present Integrity Review implying legislative changes could be tabled by the ST at the CNM.

While the National Moralisation Commission is the primary platform for co-ordinating integrity policies, important contributing and implementing actors, such as most of the Sector Ministers, e.g. education and health, are currently not part of the CNM. But while these actors might be invited ad hoc to meetings of the CNM, the ST requires more regular and institutionalised meetings with these other parts of the government to get their inputs for policy-making, to ensure that the policies are relevant for these ministries and actually implemented, and to identify their needs for guidance and capacity building. At the beginning, the Transparency Secretariat has been invited to the Council of Ministers to establish this formal link to the line ministries; the Secretary of Transparency that has been in office until March 2017 has only reported once to the Council, just after his nomination in October 2014.

Indeed, the fundamental co-ordination role of the Transparency Secretariat has been facing challenges. With the changes introduced by Decree 1649 of 2014, the Secretary of Transparency no longer reports directly to the President nor does it directly participate in the Council of Ministers, where the ST is currently represented by the head of the Administrative Department of the Presidency (DAPRE). The most recent changes from May 2016 shifted the Secretary of Transparency under the General Secretary’s Office (Secretaría General), but has not changed the fact that the formal institutional link to the President and the Council of Ministers is not direct, but runs through another layer of authority, impeding not only direct access but also sending a political signal towards external actors and the public that addressing corruption is a second-level priority.

While reportedly the connection between the Transparency Secretary and the President has been functioning relatively well, with the President having been invited to the Council again in early 2017, this relationship is not institutionalised and remains rather informal. This means that it is dependent on the personal and political relations of the individuals involved, i.e. especially the Secretary of Transparency in place, the personal Secretary of the President, and the General Secretary. The personal Secretary of the President and the General Secretary both have considerable power in either facilitating or blocking access to the President. Therefore, currently, the political importance of the anti-corruption agenda also depends strongly on the individual preferences of these actors.

The limited and informal access to the President and of non-participation in the Council of Ministers hinders an effective mainstreaming of integrity policies in the whole-of-government. For this, a regular flow of information from the Secretary of Transparency to the Council of Ministers and the other way around seems to be an essential, though not sufficient, condition.

According to article 47 of the Law 489 from 1998, the President can request the participation, in addition to the line ministers, of directors of the administrative departments as well as any other public official or private individuals. Currently, the head of the Colombian Central Procurement Agency, Colombia Compra Eficiente as well as the heads of the administrative departments are participating at the Council of Ministers. However, no formal requirement is needed beyond the invitation by the President, with the result that – again – the participation is not institutionalised. Therefore, Colombia should consider giving these positions, including the Secretary of Transparency, a permanent formal seat at the council of Ministers, so that their participation does not depend on an invitation anymore. This would ensure that the Secretary of Transparency can report directly to the President and the Ministers about the progress made in the area of integrity at the national and the regional level, and therefore contribute to effectively promoting, co-ordinating and monitoring integrity policies at the highest level as well as assist in mainstreaming them in a whole-of-government approach.

To enhance checks-and-balances and shield the position from potential undue influence and abuses, the criteria for profile, tenure, and for the appointment and removal procedures of Secretary of Transparency could be clarified. Civil society should be involved in the process

Anti-corruption is not a mere technical matter of diagnosing problems and applying solutions. Often, if not usually, powerful interests will be directly affected by anti-corruption policies and the former will try to exert influence on decision-making and implementation processes in order to reduce their impact. As such, and as recognised in article 5 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption ratified by Colombia, entities responsible for anti-corruption policies need to be shielded from undue political interference and other sources of undue influence (OECD, 2017c). Even though the Transparency Secretariat – as an entity primarily responsible for policy development, co-ordination and monitoring – does not need the same degree of independence as a control and investigative body, it should be acknowledged that anti-corruption and integrity policies are sensitive, and of high political relevance, and may require that the Secretary of Transparency takes positions or decisions against powerful vested interests.

Beyond the risk of undue influence, another reason for clearly regulating the position and protecting it from arbitrary removal and from short-term political fluctuations is continuity. Good international practice shows that integrity policies, especially preventive measures, require coherency and continuity over a longer time period to unfold and show impact. Each change at the head of an agency responsible for integrity policies comes with the risk of a policy change that could undermine the continuity and coherency of policies over time, particularly those that aim at an incremental but sustainable building of institutional capacities. Especially the co-.ordination function, at the heart of the Transparency Secretariat, relies on establishing good working relations and building trust with many other public entities at national and regional level.

However, there are no explicit legal requirements or regulations in Colombia concerning the selection, tenure or removal of the Secretary of Transparency. Neither the Law 1474 from 2011 (the Anti-corruption Statute) nor the Decree 4637 from 2011 contain anything related to the position. The appointment is currently completely at the discretion of the President, who can select a person of his choice and confidence. Since the current President took office in 2010, there have been four heads of the Transparency Secretariat.

In order to mitigate the risks mentioned above, and provide a more robust institutional foundation of the Transparency Secretariat, criteria for profile, tenure, and for the appointment and removal procedures of Secretary of Transparency should be clarified. For instance, a fixed tenure over a period of four years, perhaps overlapping with the presidential period, together with clear criteria for selection and removal, could be considered. Colombia has introduced a similar rule for the tenure of the Superintendents in Decree 1083 of 2015, although in this case they coincide with the term of the President. Indeed, experiences show that it is recommendable to clearly stipulate the procedures of removal and to specify the criteria on which this decision must be based (Schütte, 2015). The profile of the Secretary could further be strengthened by introducing criteria required for the position, which could include a minimum academic degree, e.g. at least a master in a discipline related to public management or social sciences, at least five years of relevant experience, and contributions in the area of integrity and/or anti-corruption related work in either the public or the private sector or public policy making.

As argued previously, while, ensuring a certain degree of independence from day-to-day policies is desirable, the position of the Secretary of Transparency is also prone to abuses because of the information she or he has access to, and the decisions the Secretary could take to favour specific interests, or deliberately weakening integrity policies previously introduced or political opponents. As such, it would be desirable that in addition to requiring a certain degree of technical knowledge, the Secretary of Transparency can exhibit a known and widely acknowledged track record of probity and integrity beyond political frontiers, which would also allow having a certain standing when dealing with powerful interests and high-level public officials at national and regional levels. Since a proof of such moral competence is difficult to achieve, Colombia could introduce an additional check by (1) stipulating that the President has to submit three candidates for the position (terna) to the Parliament for ratification, and (2) involving the Citizen Anti-corruption Commission (CNCLCC) into the process of selection.

In particular, the CNCLCC could be granted a veto power against a candidate, if its members take this decision by simple majority. In addition, the CNCLCC could be given the power to ask for removal of a Secretary of Transparency in power, if there is a consensus amongst the members. Such rules would strengthen the de facto power of the civil society, through the CNCLCC, and introduce additional checks-and-balances and social control to the system. Overall, such an institutionalised procedure and selection criteria would also strengthen the position of the Secretary of Transparency vis-à-vis ministers, heads of administrative departments, and superintendents.

As already mentioned above, Mexico recently chose to design its new National Anti-Corruption System (Sistema Nacional Anticorrupción, NACS) in a way where civil society is given the opportunity to play an important role throughout the integrity policy cycle, including in electing the Technical Secretary of the Executive Secretariat to the Co-ordination Committee (OECD 2017a, and Box 1.3).

Transforming the Transparency Secretariat into a unit with administrative and financial independence, as well as one with its own legal capacity and budget, would help in overcoming current challenges related to contracting, human resource management, communication, as well as strategic planning

While the current location of the Transparency Secretariat in the organigram of the DAPRE facilitates its core mandate of co-ordination due to the relative closeness to the President, its complete administrative dependence comes along with some disadvantages.

First of all, all contracting of human resources has to go through DAPRE, which impacts the way that service contracts are structured, and the timing for processing them, among others. Reportedly, the Transparency Secretariat has lost staff positions to other dependencies from the DAPRE, especially positions that require higher professional and academic levels. An adequate human resource management of the ST in accordance with the objectives can thus be difficult, both in terms of required technical capacities and stability over time to enable a learning curve. Figure 1.3 provides an overview of the staffing in Central Government Bodies designated as main focal points for developing and co-ordinating the integrity system for central government organisations across OECD countries having such an entity. It should be noted, that from the 57 staff in the Colombian Transparency Secretariat, 27 are full-time and 30 are part-time positions, making Colombia the country where part-time staffing most occurs.

Figure 1.3. Professional staff (part and full time positions) in the Central Government Body designated as main focal point for integrity
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Note: Based on answers from 31 countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Lithuania, and Peru. Countries not represented in the graph have replied not having a Central Government Body designated as main focal point for developing and co-ordinating the integrity system for central government organisations.

Source: OECD (2017e), Government at a Glance 2017, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/gov_glance-2017-en

Second, due to the lack of administrative independence, the Transparency Secretariat cannot sign any legal document, such as contracts or co-operation agreements with universities, private companies, NGOs or individuals. This can raise the administrative transaction costs of joint projects or the outsourcing of studies or consultancies.

Third, the official communication strategy of the Transparency Secretariat currently depends on the DAPRE, thereby limiting the possibility of the ST to be more pro-active in positioning integrity and anti-corruption issues in the public opinion and traditional media due to the many competing priorities of DAPRE. In addition, it is not surprising that DAPRE’s press office, responsible for the President’s communication agenda, has not the required expertise to understand the scope and the relevance of communicating integrity and anti-corruption policies. Specifically, the Observatory of Transparency and Anti-corruption of the Transparency Secretariat should be able to develop and implement its own communication strategy, including for instance the development of campaigns.

Finally, the Transparency Secretariat currently cannot develop its own vision and mission, and internal organisational adjustments must be approved by resolution by the DAPRE due to the administrative dependency of the ST from the DAPRE. This limits to some extent the development of a clearer strategic focus which could help in improving the focus and efficiency of the ST, although it does not hinder the ST to undertake an organisational development exercise to strengthen these aspects at least internally, as will be analysed in the next section.

Therefore, to enable the ST to take autonomous decisions in these aforementioned areas, Colombia could consider following the approach chosen for the Colombian Agency for Reintegration (Agencia Colombiana para la Reintegración, ACR, Decree 4138 of 2011) and establish the Transparency Secretariat as a special administrative unit at the national level (unidad administrative especial del orden nacional) under the DAPRE enjoying administrative and financial independence, as well as having its legal capacity and budget.

The recent conformation of three working groups in the Transparency Secretariat is a step towards a more efficient division of labour that could be further improved by an organisational development exercise to discuss the strategic focus, priorities, boundaries, and internal co-ordination mechanisms

Taking into account the context of austerity and the efforts that will be required in the post-conflict phase, it is inevitable that the Transparency Secretariat will need to select strategic priorities for action. This should include a focus on its core mandate in terms of elaborating the national “umbrella” public anti-corruption policy, as well as co-ordination, monitoring and evaluating its results with a view to strengthening an evidence-based whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to addressing corruption. This is crucial for the post-conflict construction of peace as well as the recuperation of trust in and legitimacy of state institutions.

The Transparency Secretariat should therefore consider undertaking an organisational development exercise, including a clarification of its strategic objectives and priorities, a review of its structure and internal work division, and its operations. This exercise could build on an analysis of the results and lessons learned of the ST’s past and current activities as well as an analysis of the broader integrity and anti-corruption policy-making context. A 360-degree analysis, involving stakeholders, partners and clients of the Transparency Secretariat could be helpful to broaden the perspective and get external feedback. The resulting vision, key-objectives and expected results would serve as the basis for its institutional road map.

On the basis of this strategic exercise, short-term priorities and expected results should be identified in order to mitigate the risk of silos within the Transparency Secretariat. This will also strengthen internal co-ordination and communication mechanisms and protocols; the latter of which could be elaborated in order to ensure that information and knowledge are shared and transmitted, and scope for synergies reaped. In addition, an internal clarification of the work processes, the design of a formal organigram as well as clear internal co-ordination mechanisms could contribute to significantly increasing efficiency and effectiveness of the Transparency Secretariat.

In particular, the Transparency Secretariat should aim at using contributions from international co-operation with a clear strategy on how to ensure their viability and sustainability over time after the initial support has finished. Support from international cooperation can be important to initiate programmes of work and pilot initiatives. These should feed into the strategic priorities and objectives and come along with a clear strategy on how to scale them up and on how to ensure their sustainability over time. The ST could make more use of joint and complementary donor initiatives by opening space for mutual collaboration, inviting donors to contribute to co-ordination.

An organisational development exercise as recommended could further help in clarifying and sharpening the boundaries, establish internal communication and co-ordination protocols, as well as required human resources.

In that sense, the recent establishment of three internal working groups, by Resolution 0970 from December 2016, is an important step forward. The three working groups are:

  • the Policy Group on Transparency, Access to Information and Fight against Corruption (Grupo de Política de Transparencia, Acceso a la Información y Lucha contra la Corrupción, GTALCC)

  • the Group for the Review and Analysis of Petitions, Reports and Complaints of Corruption (Grupo de Revisión y Análisis de Peticiones, Denuncias y Reclamos de Corrupción, GRAP)

  • the Laboratory for Innovations in the Fight against Corruption (Grupo Laboratorio de Innovación en Lucha contra la Corrupción, GLILC).

The Policy Group on Transparency, Access to Information and Fight against Corruption (GTALCC) is at the core of the Transparency Secretariat’s mandate. In particular, this group is responsible for the work with the National and Regional Moralisation Commissions, and in developing and reviewing the National Public Anti-corruption Policy (PPIA). In order to sharpen the profile of the GTALCC, it is recommended to narrow the focus of activities. On the one hand, the ST should focus on elaboration, implementation, and monitoring of policies and measures related to the country’s open government agenda and Law 1712 on transparency and access to public information, a realm where the Transparency Secretariat has been performing a lead function, in co-ordination with DAFP and other actors. On the other hand, the ST has a key role to play in reaching out to sectors, subnational governments, the private sector and civil society, ensuring a whole-of-society approach.

In turn, the Transparency Secretariat should reduce or withdraw from certain other activities that should be developed and implemented by other public agencies, especially activities related to internal control, human resource management, organisational development, and the promotion of a culture of integrity in the public administration, where the DAFP has a clear mandate for policy elaboration and implementation. Nevertheless, the GTALCC should play a role as partner, advisor, promoter and facilitator in these areas, as well as ensuring their coherence with measures taken outside the executive, and including these policies in the “umbrella” Public Anti-corruption Policy.

In addition, ideally during the recommended organisational development exercise, it could be considered taking the Observatory for Transparency and Anti-corruption out of the GTALCC, which is currently entrusted with managing it, at establish it as a fourth internal working group. Indeed, the tasks carried out by the Observatory require very specific skills and would rapidly over-burden the team of the GTALCC (see also recommendation on the Observatory below).

The Laboratory of Innovation in the Fight against Corruption (GLILC) is a commendable step taken by the Transparency Secretariat towards promoting new evidence-based policies in the fight against corruption. Indeed, many countries are increasingly questioning some of the more traditional approaches in fighting corruption, such as a strong focus on control and sanction, and emphasising more nuanced approaches drawing also from insights from behavioural sciences (OECD, 2016b and Chapter 2). As such, the GLILC can design, implement and evaluate pilot initiatives in order to rigorously test new approaches or innovative measures. This should be done in close co-operation with other public entities, especially with the Colombian Central Procurement Agency (Colombia Compra Eficiente), the DAFP, and the DNP, but also sub-national governments, in particular in regions of particular relevance for the post-conflict work. In this area, particular attention should be paid to ensure that successful pilots are taken over, up-scaled and implemented in a sustainable manner by the respective responsible public entity.

Finally, the internal Group for the Review and Analysis of Petitions, Reports and Complaints of Corruption (Grupo de Revisión y Análisis de Peticiones, Denuncias y Reclamos de Corrupción, GRAP) revises and analyses incoming petitions, suggestions, complaints and objections (peticiones, sugerencias, quejas y reclamos, PSQR) that are addressed to DAPRE or directly to the Transparency Secretariat through an e-mail address available on the Secretariat’s website ([email protected]). In Colombia, every public entity has the responsibility in detecting cases and either sanctioning them through the Internal Disciplinary Control system and/or channelling the cases to the responsible authority. Through resolution 3046 from 2012, the DAPRE is regulating the procedures for PSQR which are received by the President’s office. Reportedly, over time, an increasing number of reports of alleged corruption have been and are directed to the DAPRE through this channel and are transmitted internally to the Transparency Secretariat. In principle, however, the core mandate of the Transparency Secretariat does not include receiving corruption reports and complaints from citizens. If required, these PSQR are sent to the authorities responsible for investigation, and to follow-up on the actions taken.

According to information provided by Colombia, the main purpose of the GRAP, beyond receiving complaints and reports, is to overcome the disconnection between the information contained in reported allegations and cases of corruption and policy making. It is also a reaction to the reality that, in the eyes of many citizens, the Transparency Secretariat is responsible for anti-corruption and therefore addresses their complaints and reports to this institution. The rationale for using the information for policy-making is based mainly on the idea of taking immediate preventive administrative actions, while the responsible criminal or disciplinary investigations run in parallel, and can often take much time.

Currently, the Presidential Directive 01 from 2015 establishes a formal reporting mechanism which asks all heads of internal control offices to inform the Transparency Secretariat about alleged corruption cases in their organisations. While providing potential relevant information, it must be acknowledged as well that this mechanism also creates an additional administrative burden to the heads of internal control, and that it will imply efforts in the Transparency Secretariat to make an effective use of this information.

Therefore, a first step should be a more general discussion at the level of the National Moralisation Commission seeking to clarify if, first, this role of the Transparency Secretariat of getting information related to reports from other public entities is desirable and legally feasible, by carefully looking at advantages and disadvantages. Second, if it is considered to be a desirable task, the members of the CNM should clarify how exactly relevant information is channelled to the Transparency Secretariat without creating excessive administrative burden and without endangering criminal and disciplinary investigations.

For instance, it would be recommended to minimise the data to be processed in order to ensure that those who are supposed to provide this information, e.g. investigators, prosecutors, auditors and heads of internal control offices, will not be over-burdened and will actually fill-out the forms adequately and regularly. Also, the separation of powers has to be safeguarded at all stages. For this, the Transparency Secretariat could engage a discussion with these target groups in order to agree upon a minimum of information to be provided, and clarifying the purpose and how the information will be processed and used, and what message this information is expected to provide. Also, Resolution 0970 from December 2016, is not clear about whether the GRAP or the Observatory of Transparency and Anti-corruption, likely to be more skilled in handling quantitative data, would be responsible for analysing this information that reaches the Transparency Secretariat through these external channels.

This discussion in the CNM around complaints and reports should lead to move forward with the above-mentioned “one-stop-shop” mechanism (Ventanilla Única de Denuncias), whose implementation within the CNM may provide an opportunity to efficiently ensure the link between receiving reports for the purpose of investigation, while at the same time using the information for preventive purposes.

In addition, and independent from the previous considerations, there is a challenge related to the fact that currently, the Secretary of Transparency has no clearance to access the information under article 36 and 37 of Law 1621 from 2013 (Law on Intelligence and Counter-intelligence), while ministers and vice-ministers do have access to this type of information. Indeed, the Secretary of Transparency, in the exercise of its functions, is currently participating in meetings, e.g. with the Prosecutor Office, the UIAF, or the Anti-corruption Task Force, where such a type of information is shared and discussed, and decisions are made with respect to cases. Legally, this situation is a grey area that could lead to legal problems or could endanger the legality of the ongoing processes. Therefore, it is recommended to either grant clearance to the Secretary of Transparency to access information according to Law 1621 from 2013, or removing the Secretary of Transparency from discussions related to specific cases.

The Transparency and Anti-corruption Observatory is a good practice promoting evidence-based policies and communication which could be further strengthened by establishing it as a separate group in the Transparency Secretariat and increasing its capacities

A strategic approach to public sector integrity is based on evidence and aims at identifying and mitigating public integrity risks. This can be achieved by setting strategic objectives and priorities following a risk-based approach, as well as by developing benchmarks and indicators and gathering credible and relevant data on the level of implementation, performance and overall effectiveness of the public integrity system.

The Observatory of Transparency and Anti-corruption in Colombia is a commendable good practice at international level. The Observatory originally was designed and started by the Inspector General (PGN) and has been handed over in 2012 to the Transparency Secretariat. The Observatory is an instrument for promoting integrity in the whole-of-government, across institutions and levels of government, and the whole-of-society, reaching out to citizens, private sector and civil society. Currently, the Observatory provides not only the above-mentioned indicators on the level of implementation of the Regional Commissions, but also indicators on the level of achievement of the goals set by the Comprehensive Public Anti-corruption Policy. Although these indicators are focusing on processes and outputs as well, they are an important first step towards enabling the public monitoring of the integrity policy (Figure 1.4).

Figure 1.4. Level of the indicators measuring the progress of the Comprehensive Public Anti-corruption Policy
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Source: Based on Indicadores Política Pública Anticorrupción (PPIA), Observatorio de Transparencia y Anticorrupción. Available at http://www.anticorrupcion.gov.co/Paginas/Indicadores-PPIA.aspx. Last accessed 17 October 2016.

In order to reach its full potential, the Observatory could be strengthened by:

  • Separating the Observatory from the Policy Group on Transparency, Access to Information and Fight against Corruption (GTALCC) and establish it as an additional group within the structure of the Transparency Secretariat. This would enable the Observatory to have a dedicated staff trained in communication and in quantitative techniques of data collection, management, and analysis, especially on policy impact evaluations. The Transparency Secretariat could use the organisational development exercise to discuss a previous concept elaborated for the Observatory and compare it to the actual experiences and challenges.

  • Engaging in partnerships with international, national and sub-national research institutions, e.g. building on the experience with the Externado de Colombia University (Universidad Externado), in order to elaborate joint studies using the available information and drafting concise policy briefs based on their results. Indeed, Colombia counts with many sources of quantitative information provided by various public and private institutions, which could be used more actively. Specifically, by partnering with universities, the Observatory could set incentives for professors to direct and students to write undergraduate and graduate thesis on topics related to understanding the dynamics of corruption in the country and the effectiveness and impact of integrity policies.

  • Building on the efforts made in communicating to the whole-of-society, a communication strategy could be developed, in particular with the aim of promoting the importance of deeper, structural reforms, moving away from a reactive approach triggered by scandals, “a culture of cases”, to a proactive, strategic strengthening of the institutions aimed a cultural change, “a culture of integrity”. Also, a well-designed communication strategy may provide an important contribution towards changing social dynamics with respect to tolerance vis-à-vis certain corrupt practices and may facilitate collective action initiatives (Panth, 2008). Campaigns and education programmes could be part of this communication strategy (Box 1.5).

  • Ensuring an effective internal feedback loop between the Policy Group on Transparency, Access to Information and Fight against Corruption (GTALCC) and the information from the monitoring of the implementation of the Public Anti-corruption Policy (PPIA) and other evidence from the Observatory. Specifically, the Observatory could work on developing a monitoring and evaluation framework for the Colombian integrity policies (Johnson and Soreide, 2013). Actual impact evaluations of integrity policies could draw on existing indicators at the intermediate outcome and impact levels, both for the national and sub-national level (see also the recommendation above with respect to the CRM). Quantitative evaluations could and should be complemented by qualitative case studies and information.

  • Supporting the Regional Moralisation Commission in their communication strategy and promoting region-specific analysis, e.g. promoting links to local academia and research institutes to conduct relevant studies on regions and municipalities with respect to corruption and integrity policies, especially also from the perspective of post-conflict challenges.

  • Finally, the Observatory could play a key role in developing, jointly with the responsible entities, specific integrity indicators related to the implementation of the Peace Agreement, and enable a public monitoring of these indicators through its website.

Box 1.5. Mobilising Society to fight corruption through civic education and awareness-raising programs: the case of Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption

Since its inception in 1974, Hong Kong’s Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) has embraced a three-pronged approach of law enforcement, prevention and community education to fight corruption. The Community Relations Department (CRD) is responsible for promoting integrity in society, and utilises several different methods to educate society, including civic education programmes and awareness-raising campaigns.

Civic education

The CRD offers tailor-made preventive education programmes ranging from training workshops to integrity building programmes for different groups of the community, such as businesspersons and professionals. The content of the training workshops covers the following areas: prevention of bribery ordinance; the pitfalls of corruption; ethical decision-making at work; and managing staff integrity. The CRD also disseminates anti-corruption messages to students in secondary schools and at tertiary institutions though interactive dramas and discussions on personal and professional ethics. Additionally, the CRD organises regular talks and seminars for the private and non-profit sector to advise them on how to incorporate corruption prevention measures into their operational systems and procedures. Topics range from knowledge on the pitfalls of corruption, risk management, ethical governance and what to do if offered bribes.

Awareness campaigns

The CRD also uses various platforms and techniques to raise awareness about corruption and to publicise anti-corruption messages to different segments of society. For instance, anti-corruption messages are disseminated through television and radio advertisements, such as the TV drama series “ICAC Investigators” which has become a household title.

Likewise, the CRD communicates its messages through poster campaigns and the internet. For instance, the main website of ICAC provides the public with the latest news of the Commission, information on corruption prevention, and access to the ICAC audio-visual products and other publications. The website is also home to the two video channels for ICAC, which includes the complete ICAC TV drama series and training videos on how to prevent corruption. The ICAC Drama Weibo tweets about integrity-related issues to educate the general public on the evils of corruption, whereas the ICAC Smartphone app houses all the latest news and activities of the ICAC, including the integrity videos. The ICAC eBooks Tablet App also provides users with access to the ICAC e-publications, in order to ensure that the general public has access to anti-corruption materials at any time.

In the first year of its operation, the public education campaigns resulted in 3189 reports of alleged corruption, more than twice the number of reports received by police in the previous year (Panth, 2011). More than 30 years later, the efforts of Hong Kong’s ICAC have produced a situation in which seven in ten citizens are willing to report corruption (Johnston, 2005). As the Hong Kong example demonstrates, preventing corruption was not solely the result of strong institutions and laws. Enhancing society’s participation to hold institutions to account, along with continuous, concerted attention and efforts, has led to an environment in which corruption is rejected by both public officials and citizens alike.

Source: ICAC website, http://www.icac.org.hk/en/ack/pep/index.html, last accessed 17 October 2016; Panth, S. (2011) “Changing Norms is Key to Fighting Everyday Corruption,” The Communication for Governance and Accountability Program, World Bank, http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTGOVACC/Resources/ChangingNormsAnnexFinal.pdf, last accessed 17 October 2016; Johnston, M. (2005) Syndromes of Corruption: Wealth, Power and Democracy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The members of the National Moralisation Commission should be encouraged and invited to contribute with expertise and information. In addition, Colombia could consider to earmark funds specifically for the Observatory in order to guarantee its functioning. Again, the use of royalties (regalías) could be considered as an option to explore.

Proposals for action

The institutional arrangements and effective co-ordination amongst the actors of the public integrity system are fundamental aspects of the Colombian efforts to enhance integrity and mitigate corruption risks at all levels. The OECD therefore recommends that Colombia takes the following actions in order to enhance its public integrity system:

Integrity for peace

  • To promote the legitimacy of the State and achieve sustainable peace, the capacities of local public administration need to be strengthened and integrity policies mainstreamed throughout the post-conflict policies and processes with emphasis on high-risk areas and sectors.

  • To ensure coherence between integrity and post-conflict policies, co-ordination should be enhanced between the institutions and instruments created in the process of the Peace Agreement and those of the Colombian public integrity system.

Improve co-ordination of integrity policies at national level

  • The Colombian inter-institutional platform for co-ordination of anti-corruption policies, the National Moralisation Commission, is commendable, but challenges to ensure an effective co-ordination persist, and to reflect its broad mandate it could be rebranded as Commission for Integrity and Transparency or Commission for Integrity and Anti-corruption.

  • For an effective co-ordination across the public integrity system, important actors that are currently not members of the National Moralisation Commission could either be included as members, invited on a regular base, or participate in the technical sub-commissions.

  • Regular meetings of the CNM and establishing two technical sub-commissions, one on prevention and one on detection and sanction, would help to ensure continuity and technical quality the CNM.

  • To ensure that the National Citizens Commission for the Fight against Corruption (CNCLCC) can fulfil its mandate and functions, a regular briefing to the CNM should be institutionalised and the regular funding of its technical secretariat secured.

Reaching and empowering the regional level

  • The National Moralisation Commission and the Transparency Secretariat should clarify the composition, mandate, functions and procedures of the Regional Moralisation Commissions, especially with respect to their role in prevention policies, to align them with their broad mandate.

  • To ensure a proper functioning of the CRM, a technical support unit or person should be institutionalised, and capacities and appropriate financial resources provided by the individual members of the CNM at the national level and by local governments.

  • Mechanisms to allow for communication and information exchange between the CRM could enhance mutual learning and help in addressing cross-regional corruption problems.

  • The public monitoring and benchmarking between the CRM could be complemented by indicators at the level of intermediate output or outcome (impact), using available indicators or considering developing additional ones.

Strengthening of the Transparency Secretariat

  • Giving a permanent seat to the Secretary of Transparency at the Council of Ministers and a direct link to the President would empower the co-ordination function of the Transparency Secretariat and promote mainstreaming and coherence of integrity policies.

  • To enhance checks-and-balances and shield the position from potential undue influence and abuses, the criteria for profile, tenure, and for the appointment and removal procedures of Secretary of Transparency could be clarified, and civil society involved in the process.

  • Transforming the Transparency Secretariat into a unit with administrative and financial independence, as well as an own legal capacity and budget, would help in overcoming current challenges related to contracting, human resource management, communication, as well as strategic planning.

  • The recent conformation of three working groups in the Transparency Secretariat is a step towards a more efficient division of labour that could be further improved by an organisational development exercise to discuss the strategic focus, priorities, boundaries, and internal co-ordination mechanisms.

  • The Transparency and Anti-corruption Observatory is a good practice promoting evidence-based policies and communication which could be further strengthened by establishing it as a separate group in the Transparency Secretariat and increasing its capacities.

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