Chapter 4. Reinforcing public sector integrity in Thailand by managing conflicts of interest

This chapter examines the Thai integrity system in relation to the management of conflict-of-interest and asset disclosure. In line with the recommendations of the previous chapters, Thailand may consider consolidating the mandate for managing conflicts of interest of all civil servants within the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) and developing more detailed measures, such as specific guidance for categories of public officials who may be at greatest risk, as well as a monitoring system for the cooling-off period. The scope of asset disclosure could be expanded to include senior public officials and other at-risk officials, while strengthening the auditing capacity of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) with online technology. Thailand could also consider making asset disclosure forms publicly accessible for public scrutiny gradually and progressively.

  

The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and under the responsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the terms of international law.

Management of conflicts of interest and asset declaration

Ensuring that the integrity of government decision-making is not compromised by public officials’ private interests has become a growing concern across OECD member countries. A conflict of interest arises when a public official’s private interests may improperly influence the performance of official duties. The varying approaches to managing conflict-of-interest situations in different countries often reflect their legal and public service traditions. In most countries, institutional measures such as external audit and verification and other internal supervisory approaches are widely observed, while asset and private interest disclosure by senior public officials continues to be an essential tool for managing conflicts of interest. A modern conflict-of-interest policy should seek to strike a balance. Conflicts of interest, if they are not adequately identified and managed, may lead to corruption. At the same time, an excessively strict approach can be costly and unworkable, and may deter experienced and competent potential candidates from entering the public service. The OECD Guidelines for Managing Conflict of Interest in the Public Service provide policy makers with a set of tangible policy options based on promoting individual responsibility, supporting scrutiny and creating an appropriate organisational culture.

In Thailand, the Organic Act on Counter Corruption, B.E. 2542, currently provides the legal framework for managing conflicts of interest. Sections 100-103 of the Act especially deal with conflicts between personal interest and the public interest (Box ‎4.1). In addition, the Notification of the National Anti-Corruption Commission on the criteria for accepting assets or other benefits according to the code of conduct of state officials, B.E.2543, Regulation of the Prime Minister’s Office, on giving or receiving gifts for state officials, B.E. 2554, and Cabinet Resolution of 4 December 2001, B.E. 2544, also provide complementary provisions for managing conflicts of interest in the public sector.

Box ‎4.1. The Organic Act on Counter Corruption, B.E. 2542

CHAPTER IX

Conflicts Between Personal Interest and Public Interest

_______________

Section 100. Any State Official shall not carry out the following acts:

(1) being a party to or having interest in a contract made with a Government agency where such State Official performs duties in the capacity as State Official who has the power to conduct supervision, control, inspection or legal proceedings;

(2) being a partner or shareholder in a partnership or company which is a party to a contract made with a Government agency where such State Official performs duties in the capacity as a State Official who has the power to conduct supervision, control, inspection or legal proceedings;

(3) being a concessionaire or continuing to hold a concession from the State, State agency, State enterprise or local administration or being a party to a contract of a directly or indirectly monopolistic nature made with the State, a Government agency, State agency, State enterprise or local administration, or being a partner or shareholder in a partnership or company which is a concessionaire or a contractual party in such manner;

(4) being interested in the capacity as a director, counsel, representative, official or employee in a private business which is under supervision, control or audit of the State agency to which such State Official is attached or where such State Official performs duties in the capacity as State Official, provided that the nature of the interest of the private business may be contrary to or inconsistent with public interest or the interest of the Government service or may affect the autonomy in the performance of duties of such State Official.

The positions of State Officials prohibited from carrying out the activities under Paragraph 1 shall be prescribed and published in the Government Gazette by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).

The provisions of Paragraph 1 shall apply to spouses of the State Officials under Paragraph 2. For this purpose, the activities carried out by the spouse shall be deemed to be the activities carried out by the State Official.

Section 101. The provisions of Section 100 shall apply mutatis mutandis to the activities carried out by the person who has already ceased to be a State Official for less than two years, with the exception of the holding of shares of not more than 5 percent of the total number of shares issued by a public limited company which is not a party to a contract made with the State agency under Section 100 (2), for which permission is obtained under the law on securities and securities exchange.

Section 102. The provisions of Section 100 shall not apply to the carrying out of activities of the State Official who is entrusted by the Government agency having the power to supervise, control or inspect the operation of a limited company or a public limited company to perform duties in the limited company or public limited company in which the State agency holds shares, or with which it participates in an undertaking.

Section 103. Any State Official shall not receive property or any other benefit from any person other than the legitimate property or benefit derived under the law, rules or regulations issued by virtue of the provisions of law, with the exception of the acceptance of the property or any other benefit on the ethical basis in accordance with the rules and in such amount as prescribed by the NACC.

The provisions of Paragraph 1 shall apply mutatis mutandis to the acceptance of property or any other benefit by the person who has ceased to be a State Official for less than two years.

Source: The Organic Act on Counter Corruption, B.E. 2542, https://www.oecd.org/site/adboecdanti-corruptioninitiative/46817329.pdf.

Thailand could consider consolidating the mandate for public sector integrity, making PACC the agency responsible for conflict-of-interest policies for all civil servants

The organisation can be proactive in helping its employees identify and manage emerging conflicts of interest by enabling participants in official decision-making capacities to foresee potential conflicts where feasible, for example by setting clear definitions and procedures for managing and resolving conflicts of interest. Likewise, providing customised training on the conflict-of-interest provisions and options for management can help employees identify and deal with potential conflict-of-interest situations at an early stage and encourage them to come forward with conflicts of interest. Establishing clear institutional responsibility for ensuring coherence in such policies and guidelines across the government lays a strong foundation for managing conflicts of interest in the public sector.

Under the current setting in Thailand, Sections 100-103 of the Organic Act on Counter Corruption, B.E. 2542, lists the situations that state officials should avoid in order to manage conflict of interest. NACC is responsible for implementing the conflict of interest policies governed under the Act, and also provides a guideline with practical examples to inform the public officials. For example, according to the Law on Procedure for Giving and Taking Any Gifts for Public Officials, B.E. 2544, and the Practical Guidelines for Public Officials, B.E. 2543, public officials are not permitted to receive a gift worth more than THB 3 000 (approximately EUR 78). Such guidelines are also available on a mobile application. NACC also publishes operation guidelines on Section 100 and 103 for state officials. NACC provides a mobile application as an alternative channel, aiming to educate state officials, especially those working in local administration, and the general public on the guidelines for conflict of interest set out in Section 100, Section 103 of the Organic Act on Counter Corruption, B.E. 2542, and the Law Prohibiting State Officials from Receiving Assets or Other Benefits from Outsiders (Box ‎4.2). In addition, the issue of conflict of interest is addressed in the Guidelines on Monitoring Corrupt Government Officials, Vol. 3, published by NACC.

Box ‎4.2. NACC’s e-learning mobile application on Sections 100 and 103 of the Organic Act on Counter Corruption, B.E. 2542
picture

Source: National Anti-Corruption Commission.

While NACC’s leadership in providing manuals and online application to ensure proper understanding of conflict of interest is in line with good practices of many OECD countries, analysis and recommendations of previous chapters highlighted the value of streamlining the mandate for public sector integrity within PACC. Managing conflicts of interest is closely linked to the Code of Professional Ethics for Civil Servants. Ethical training for civil servants, and the direct involvement and co-operation of PACC, would thus be more cost-effective and efficient while NACC continues to be responsible for parliamentarians and other officials in the legislative and judicial branches. To this end, PACC, in consultation with NACC, could be the leading agency for maintaining conflict-of-interest policies for all the civil servants in the public sector, to increase the coherence of the guidance package on integrity provided to civil servants.

Thailand could consider developing specific guidance for categories of public officials who are at risk due to the nature of their work

The role of ensuring clear guidance also involves considering the specific risks associated with the administrative functions and sectors most exposed to corruption. As different organisations face different contexts, and as the nature of their work varies, they may also be faced with distinctive ethical dilemmas and specific conflict-of-interest situations. While the ultimate responsibility falls on the individual public official to recognise in which situations conflicts may arise, most OECD countries have tried to define those areas that are most at risk and to provide guidance to prevent and resolve conflict-of-interest situations. Indeed, some public officials operate in sensitive areas with a higher potential risk of conflict of interest, such as justice, tax and customs administrations, as well as the political/administrative interface, and as such, call for the development of special standards. Of respondents to OECD surveys on the subject, 59% have adopted special measures for their ministers and 50% for senior public officials, while staff in ministerial offices, inspectors, and custom officers tend to receive less attention in this regard (Figure ‎4.1).

Figure ‎4.1. Development of specific conflict-of-interest policy/rules for particular categories of public officials in OECD countries
picture

Source: (OECD, 2014[1]).

Thailand has also launched some initiatives to develop specific guidelines for at-risk public officials to manage conflicts of interest. For example, NACC, in consultation with the Ministry of Public Health, has developed manuals for the officials working at the Ministry. Similarly, NACC has set up an ad hoc subcommittee to prepare an operation manual for state officials who work in the area of accounting and infrastructure, and has established a working group to analyse the risks of conflict of interest for NACC officials. However, such specific guidelines are still not well developed in other government agencies and areas.

To build on successful initiatives such as the one by NACC and Ministry of Public Heath, PACC could consider consultations with other Ministries and government agencies to help them develop more specific guidelines and codes at organisational levels, while ensuring that they align with the overarching principles integral to the public sector. Furthermore, PACC could encourage each Ministry to elaborate specific conflict-of-interest regulations and guidelines in a participatory fashion. Involving public officials of the organisation in developing such policies is an important awareness-raising exercise, and helps promote a sense of ownership of the policies.

Thailand could consider a mechanism to monitor its cooling-off period, especially for high-ranking public officials and at-risk officials, as well as developing pre-public employment policies

Another area of concern for public sector integrity is conflicts of interest arising from employment before and after the tenure of public officials. Such situations fall under the so-called “revolving-door” phenomenon of mobility between the private and public sectors. On the one hand, it is in the interest of the public and government to attract an experienced and skilled workforce to serve the public interest (OECD, 2015[2]). On the other hand, the revolving door can undermine the integrity of the decision-making process, exposing public officials to the risk of making decisions in the interests of private employers before or after their tenure in public service, rather than in the public interest (OECD, 2015[2]). To avoid conflicts of interest arising before or after public employment, many OECD countries have instituted provisions governing the periods before and after public employment.

In Thailand, a cooling-off period of two years is mandated for all public officials, including state and local officials, the Prime Minister, Ministers and the head of local governments, as stipulated in the Practical Guideline for public officials for Sections 100-103 of the Organic Act on Counter Corruption. While the need for a cooling-off period is clearly stated, there appears to be no mechanism for monitoring and ensuring that public officials follow this rule on leaving their public positions. Several measures can improve the implementation of this mechanism. In terms of institutional responsibility, NACC may continue to be responsible for monitoring the post-public employment of the Prime Minister, Ministers, parliamentarians and other politically appointed or elected officials. However, for other civil servants in the public sector, PACC would be in a better position to conduct the monitoring. For example, before leaving the public sector, public officials who are in a position to become involved in a conflict of interest should have an exit interview with PACC or NACC (depending on the category of public officials) to examine possible conflicts of interest, and, if necessary, to determine the appropriate means of remedying them. In particular, the cooling-off period for senior public officials and at-risk officials should be carefully monitored. Japan, for example, has a Re-employment Surveillance Commission within the Cabinet Office. Civil servants above certain grades must report to the commission on their re-employment status, and the commission updates and publishes the list on its website four times a year.1 The list includes such information as the name of the public official, the name of the new employer, and the position offered to the public official. PACC, in consultation with NACC, could consider introducing a similar reporting mechanism for public officials to ensure their compliance with cooling-off periods.

To reduce unnecessary administrative burdens, time limits could also be tailored to the level of public officials and specific groups or a particular risk area. For example, in Canada, a one-year time limit is imposed on public officials in executive positions, whereas for ministers, a two-year period is applied (OECD, 2010[3]). In this sense, Thailand might consider conducting consultation with relevant government stakeholders and introducing different durations for cooling-off periods of different categories of officials.

In contrast to post-public employment, there is no explicit restriction on pre-public employment in Thailand. While this is also the case in many OECD countries and requires further efforts to regulate, seven countries – Australia, Austria, France, Israel, Japan, the Netherlands and New Zealand – have restrictions on both private sector employees or lobbyists and suppliers to the government or those who negotiate public sector contracts on behalf of a company when filling a post in the public sector (Figure ‎4.2).

Figure ‎4.2. Restrictions on pre-public employment, 2014
picture

Note: Data unavailable for Denmark and Luxembourg. Government suppliers here could refer to suppliers to the government or those who negotiate public sector contracts on behalf of a company.

Source: (OECD, 2014[1]).

Most restrictions in those countries take place during the recruitment process, when the applicants’ previous employment is assessed for potential conflicts of interest. Once recruited, applicants could also be expected to manage their conflicts of interest through recusal from involvement in an affected decision-making process or restriction from certain information (OECD, 2015[2]).

To further safeguard the integrity of public officials and mitigate the risks of conflict of interest, PACC, in consultation with NACC and other government agencies, could consider developing pre-public employment policies in which the applicants’ previous employment is assessed for potential conflicts of interest.

Thailand may consider developing a more structured approach to raise awareness of conflicts of interest

The previous chapter on public ethics touched upon the value of developing practical guidelines and examples of ethical dilemmas and conflict-of-interest situations. Without communication and proactive dissemination, however, values remain words on paper. The vast majority of OECD member countries have measures to systematically distribute and communicate the need for managing conflicts of interest for public servants.

In Thailand, some public agencies provide rules on conflict of interest as part of an introductory package for newly recruited staff, as well as ad hoc training courses on the subject. NACC is also invited to other government agencies to discuss and raise awareness on managing conflicts of interest. NACC recently spoke about the management of conflict of interest at the Ministry of Industry, for example. However, these awareness-raising initiatives are not integrated into formal conflict-of-interest management policies.

In consultation with NACC, PACC and Anti-Corruption Operation Centres, and to increase understanding of managing conflicts of interest in the public sector and ensure co-ordination across the government, each government agency might consider developing systematic procedures in which training, education and guidance on management of conflicts of interest are provided to all public officials at different stages of their career. The most frequently used method in OECD countries is to provide the guidelines whenever new recruits are admitted to the public service (Table ‎4.1). PACC might also consider formally requiring government agencies to disseminate manuals on management of conflict of interest on hiring new staff, and providing training on the subject on a regular basis.

Table ‎4.1. Awareness-raising activities for managing conflict of interest

 

Initial dissemination of rules/guidelines to public officials upon taking office

Proactive updates regarding changes in conflict-of-interest rules/guidelines

Publication of the conflict-of-interest policy online or on the intranet of the organisation

Regular reminders as to what a conflict of interest is, and the responsibility of public officials to resolve them

Provision of training

Provision of regular guidance and assistance

Providing an advice line or help desk where officials receive guidance on filing requirements or identify or manage conflicts of interest

Australia

Austria

Belgium

Canada

Chile

Czech Republic

Estonia

Finland

France

Germany

Greece

Hungary

Iceland

Ireland

Israel

Italy

Japan

Korea

Mexico

Netherlands

New Zealand

Norway

Poland

Portugal

Slovak Republic

Slovenia

Spain

Sweden

Switzerland

Turkey

United Kingdom

United States

Yes ●

27

19

22

17

23

20

17

No ○

5

13

11

15

9

12

15

Source: (OECD, 2014[1]).

When there is a limited budget or resources for awareness-raising programmes, it is crucial to prioritise the target groups. Targeting also helps to focus the awareness-raising activities on the practical needs of a specific group of public officials, increasing their motivation to observe the rules. Several groups could be targeted for training on managing conflicts of interest: all new public officials; elected public officials, senior public officials in management positions and public officials in areas of risk. Compulsory training for these groups is advisable. In addition, officers in each Anti-Corruption Operation Centre could be trained for their role in dissemination and advice on conflict-of-interest policies in the organisation.

Thailand could consider developing a mechanism to monitor the effectiveness of conflict-of-interest policies

An emerging issue for many countries is to monitor and assess the effectiveness of the existing conflict-of-interest policies. In Thailand, no major research has been initiated to determine how familiar public officials are with conflict-of-interest policies. The absence of measurements related to the degree of familiarisation with the principles and values makes it difficult to monitor whether the conflict-of-interest policies are implemented and respected. As a first step, PACC, in consultation and co-operation with NACC, could consider reviewing how public organisations provide guidance on the conflict of interest policies, reviewing public employees’ knowledge of such policies, and monitoring implementation of the policies through such diagnostic tools as surveys and statistical data. Countries such as Australia, Canada, Estonia, Korea, New Zealand, Portugal and the United States use employee feedback mechanisms and other specific tools for assessing their policy implementation on a regular basis (Box ‎4.3).

Box ‎4.3. Monitoring of the conflict of interest programme in the United States

The Unites States Office of Government Ethics (OGE) comprehensively monitors implementation of the executive branch conflict-of-interest programme. OGE employs several means, including surveys, diagnostic tools, training and outreach, to prevent and resolve conflicts of interest. Over 130 executive branch agencies are required to submit an annual survey report to OGE concerning conflict of interest and other aspects of their ethics programmes. Responses are mandatory and provide OGE with compliance metrics to assess the effectiveness of each agency’s conflict-of-interest programme. OGE also surveys ethics officials annually to assess the effectiveness of OGE’s guidance, training and support concerning conflicts of interest.

Source: OECD Survey on Management of Conflict of Interest (2012).

Thailand could consider introducing an asset disclosure system for senior public officials and other officials at risk

Disclosure of the private interests of public officials is an effective tool for preventing illicit enrichment. Implementing rules that public officials must disclose their assets at the start of their tenure, midway through their tenure and at the end of their tenure can help the relevant authorities ensure that public officials are not using their position for personal gain. Furthermore, although it is primarily public officials’ responsibility to manage their conflicts of interest, disclosure of their private interests can greatly help prevent potential instances of conflict of interest.

In Thailand, the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand, B.E. 2560, requires persons holding political positions, judges of the Constitutional Court, persons holding positions in independent organs, the Auditor-General and state officials to submit an account showing to the NACC particulars of their assets and liabilities, of their spouses and children who have not yet become sui juris, in accordance with the Organic Act on Anti-Corruption. Sections 39-42 of the Organic Act on Counter Corruption, B.E. 2542, provide provisions that state officials make a declaration of the assets and liabilities. The Act requires high-ranking public officials, including the President of the Supreme Court of Justice, the President of the Constitutional Court, the President of the Supreme Administrative Court, the Prosecutor-General, the Election Commissioner and Ombudsman to disclose their assets and liabilities and those of their spouses and dependent children upon taking office, every three years while they are in office and on vacating office.2 In addition, public officials at the PACC are required to submit an asset declaration form to the Secretary-General of the PACC.

NACC recently issued a new notification expanding the scope of the asset disclosure under the Organic Act on Counter Corruption, B.E. 2542.3 Under this new initiative, which came into force on 4 January 2017, the scope was further extended to include public officials such as NACC senior officials, Presidents of the Appeals Court, and sub-national senior public officials, including the Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA). In addition, the NACC Notification (No.5), B.E.2560, requires that 50 additional state official positions submit their assets and liabilities, including the Vice-President of Public Universities, the Municipal Clerk, and Deputy Commissioner of the National Police.

Such an initiative is an encouraging sign. However, since senior public officials at other ministries and at-risk public officials such as procurement officials are also exposed to corruption, NACC could consider introducing an asset disclosure system for senior public officials and other at-risk officials. In Japan, asset disclosure is mandatory for all public officials at the rank of Deputy Director General or above at the headquarters of all government agencies (Box ‎4.4).

Box ‎4.4. Reviews of asset disclosure forms in Japan

The Ethics Act of Japan stipulates three types of mandatory reporting systems (see below), to promote a transparent relationship between national public employees and other stakeholders. The National Public Service Ethics Board examines copies of the reports sent from each ministry.

Types of reports

  1. Mandatory reports on the receipt of gifts (to be submitted by the officials at the rank of Assistant Director and above at the headquarters; when they accept gifts, food and drink, remuneration for a lecture and other activities, and any other benefits from business counterparts which exceeds JPY 5 000, approximately EUR 36).

  2. Mandatory reports on the exchange of stocks (to be submitted by the officials at the rank of Deputy Director General or above at the headquarters).

  3. Mandatory reports on income (to be submitted by the officials at the rank of Deputy Director General or above at the headquarters).

Report procedure

picture

Source: National Public Service Ethics Board, www.jinji.go.jp/rinri/eng/index.htm.

Thailand could consider making asset disclosure forms publicly accessible for scrutiny by the media and the citizens

Beyond the scope of the declaration, it is also essential to establish a system of oversight to provide monitoring and enforcement. The effectiveness of the disclosure regime depends on the system’s ability to detect violations and administer sanctions. In Thailand, disclosure forms are only subject to internal audit by the NACC. In this regard, publicly disclosing asset disclosure forms might add an extra layer of monitoring, allowing citizens themselves to scrutinise the information submitted.

In Thailand, the Organic Act on Counter Corruption (No. 2), B.E. 2544, stipulates that the assets and liabilities of persons holding the position of Prime Minister, Minister, Member of the House of Representatives and Senator can be disclosed to the public, while other positions are not disclosed mandatorily. Disclosed documents are kept at the Office of the NACC for the public and media for inspection during office hours, and are made available on the NACC website. Applying a wider publication policy to high-ranking civil servants will increase the level of accountability and transparency. Making such information public will also allow public scrutiny and help increase integrity in the public sector. Information relating to private interests of public officials may also be published on the government portal website managed by the Electronic Government Agency.

In OECD countries, the level of disclosure, on average, is closely related to the level of seniority. Disclosure requirements for top decision makers are the most extensive, followed by senior civil servants, political advisors or appointees and civil servants (Figure ‎4.3). Reflecting on this global trend, NACC could consider expanding the level of disclosure, to ensure transparency and the accountability of public officials.

Figure ‎4.3. Level of disclosure and public availability of private interests within the executive branch
picture

Source: (OECD, 2014[1]).

Thailand could consider developing an online management system of asset disclosure, to facilitate reviewing, auditing and publication by the NACC

Because the number of public officials subject to asset disclosure has recently increased, the capacity of NACC to audit and verify these asset disclosure forms needs to be increased. One way to strengthen the auditing capacity of NACC is to invest in online technologies and introduce an online management system of asset disclosure.

Asset declarations in Thailand are now paper-based, but the development of an online system is under discussion. For example, introduction of an online asset declaration system for legislators and high-ranking public officials was proposed to the National Reform Council in 2014. This initiative should be encouraged, and NACC could consider introducing a comprehensive online disclosure system to promote transparency in the public sector.

Such a reform plan could benefit from online management of asset disclosure (Box ‎4.5). This would make asset disclosure a simpler process for those filing and facilitate data collection for the NACC. It is easier to collect data in this way rather than reading handwritten forms and to spend time recording the information, potentially introducing inaccuracies. It is also easier for filers to have a consistent, online, easy-to-access interface for submitting information. Online technology also makes it easier to organise the information in an intelligible, user-friendly way that facilitates reviewing, auditing and subsequent publication (U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, 2015[4]).

Box ‎4.5. Some potential benefits of online asset disclosure identified by the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre
  • Technology makes it possible to automate complete and consistent information, reducing delays caused by incomplete or incorrect declarations. Online submission systems can prevent many mistakes, providing guidance to the filers on how to file the information, and alerting them to missing, incomplete or erroneous entries. Electronic filing also allows for standardisation of a wide range of terms and financial terminology that can be used differently by filers using “drop-down” menus.

  • Electronic filing may save time for both filers and agency staff. Online submission may increase compliance by reducing the filers’ time and the cost of physically submitting their declaration, while eliminating for agency staff the cumbersome process of transferring data from paper to electronic data management systems.

  • Electronic submission facilitates compliance checks verifying whether officials have submitted their declarations within the required deadlines. Statistical information and overall analysis of all declarations is easy to implement.

  • Electronic declarations facilitate the management and retrieval of data, allowing declarations to be retained, consulted and compared more easily for longer periods of time, as opposed to archiving and locating physical copies.

  • Software can automatically calculate and flag numerical imbalances and identify suspicious patterns, facilitating verification. Electronic filing also makes it easier to cross-check declared information with other databases or to share the information with other state agencies, such as prosecution services and financial intelligence units.

Source: (U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, 2015[4]).

After Indonesia introduced an online management system in 2001, the compliance rate increased from 56% in 2006 to 85% in 2009, facilitating verification of the forms by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) (Box ‎4.6). Similarly, the introduction of technology in Argentina had a significant impact on the effectiveness of the asset declaration scheme. In the year following implementation of the automated submission system, submission compliance rates increased from 67% to 96%, and the estimated cost to the government per declaration decreased from USD 70 to USD 8. The number of conflict-of-interest investigations increased from 40 to 331, and the number of financial disclosure information requests increased from 66 to 823 (The World Bank, 2013[5]).

Box ‎4.6. Online management system of asset disclosure in Indonesia

An asset declaration mechanism was introduced in Indonesia in 2001 and is managed by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). Declarations are submitted on paper, but administrative and operational data management processes are online. The declarations are submitted in hard copy (about 116 500 in 2009), and scanned for archival and retrieval purposes. The data is then processed by about 80 staff, and line managers help to validate the data. A sample of 1% to 5% of declarations is verified, primarily targeting the declarations of officials in high-risk agencies, selected manually by cross-checking various KPK databases. The KPK has introduced enhanced analysis and reporting, using data warehouse and business intelligence tools that provide increased verification options and the publication of statistics and trends.

Summaries of wealth disclosure reports are published in the state gazette and online. The portal provides public access to compliance statistics and other reports evaluating the system’s performance. A user can search and analyse the data based on a number of factors, such as name, gender, job title and property data, and print reports (The World Bank, 2013[5]).

The KPK provides guidance to filers on completing a declaration both through its website (www.kpk.go.id) and in person at the KPK. Officials can also make an appointment at the KPK for this purpose.

Source: (U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, 2015[4]) and (The World Bank, 2013[5]).

In developing an online management system, Thailand would need to pay attention to the interconnectivity of such systems across different government agencies. Experience in other countries suggests that a failure to develop compatible platforms and software systems can impede the efficient exchange between government agencies of of data that is needed to expose corruption and successfully prosecute corruption cases. In particular, the online platform and software for asset disclosure must be compatible with that of relevant agencies, such as prosecutorial agencies (U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, 2015[4]).

Proposals for action

  • Thailand could consider consolidating the mandate for public sector integrity. PACC could be designated as the agency responsible for conflict-of-interest policies for civil servants in the public sector, in close co-operation with NACC.

  • Thailand could consider developing specific guidance for categories of public officials who are at risk due to the nature of their work. With support from PACC, each government agency could consider providing more specific guidelines and codes at organisational levels, while ensuring that they align with the overarching principles integral to the public sector. In addition, PACC could encourage government agencies to elaborate such specific conflict-of-interest regulations and guidelines in a participatory fashion.

  • Thailand could consider introducing a mechanism to monitor the implementation of its cooling-off period, especially for high-ranking public officials and at-risk officials, as well as developing pre-public employment policies. While there is a cooling-off period of two years for all public officials including the Prime Minister, Ministers and the heads of local governments, no mechanism exists to monitor and ensure that public officials follow this rule upon leaving their public positions. NACC and PACC could consider developing measures to monitor the implementation of the cooling-off period, and also develop pre-public employment policies.

  • Thailand might consider developing a more structured approach to raise awareness of conflicts of interest. PACC and the Anti-Corruption Operation Centre in each government agency may consider developing more systematic procedures, in which training, education and guidance on management of conflicts of interest are provided to all public officials throughout their career.

  • Thailand could consider developing a mechanism to monitor the effectiveness of the conflict-of-interest policies. PACC could consider reviewing how public organisations provide guidance on the conflict-of-interest policies, assessing public employees’ knowledge of such policies, and monitoring the implementation of the policies through diagnostic tools such as surveys and statistical data.

  • Thailand could consider extending an asset disclosure system to senior public officials and other at-risk officials, while increasing the NACC’s auditing capacity.

  • Thailand could consider making asset disclosure forms publicly accessible for scrutiny by the media and the citizens in a gradual and progressive manner, taking into account the level and position of the public official. Information relating to private interests of public officials could be published on the government portal website managed by the Electronic Government Agency.

  • Thailand could consider introducing a comprehensive online disclosure system to facilitate effective reviewing, auditing and subsequent publication by the NACC. In developing an online management system, Thailand would also need to pay attention to interconnectivity of such systems across different government agencies.

References

[3] OECD (2010), Post-Public Employment: Good Practices for Preventing Conflict of Interest, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264056701-en.

[1] OECD (2014), OECD Survey on Managing Conflict of Interest in the Executive Branch and Whistleblower Protection, http://www.oecd.org/gov/ethics/2014-survey-managing-conflict-of-interest.pdf (accessed on 14 February 2018).

[2] OECD (2015), Government at a Glance 2015, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/gov_glance-2015-en.

[5] The World Bank (2013), “Income and Asset Disclosure: Case Study Illustrations”, Directions in Development, Washington, DC, http://dx.doi.org/10.1596/978-0-8213-9796-1.

[4] U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre (2015), The use of technology for managing income and asset declarations, http://www.u4.no/publications/the-use-of-technology-for-managing-income-and-asset-declarations/.

Notes

← 1. www.cas.go.jp/jp/gaiyou/jimu/jinjikyoku/files/kouhyou_h2907041_siryou.pdf.

← 2. https://www.nacc.go.th/ewt_news.php?nid=953.

← 3. Notification regarding specific positions that should submit assets and liabilities for inspection under the Organic Act on Counter Corruption, B.E. 2542 (1999), and under Section 40, amended by the Organic Act on Counter Corruption (No. 2), B.E. 2554 (2011), (No. 4), B.E. 2559 (2016).