Corruption is one of the most corrosive issues of our time. It wastes public resources, widens economic and social inequalities, breeds discontent and political polarisation and reduces trust in institutions. Traditional approaches based on the creation of more rules, stricter compliance and tougher enforcement have been of limited effectiveness. A strategic and sustainable response to corruption must be public integrity.

Public integrity is, first and foremost, the responsibility of governments. But action needs to cross all jurisdictional borders – integrity is not only a concern for the national government, it must also permeate down to municipalities where individuals experience integrity first hand. Action should also go beyond government and involve companies, civil society organisations and individuals.

Recognising the need for a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to public integrity, the OECD adopted the Recommendation on Public Integrity in 2017. The Recommendation provides governments with a vision for a public integrity strategy, shifting the focus from ad hoc integrity policies to a context-dependent, risk-based approach that emphasises a culture of integrity. The OECD Public Integrity Handbook provides concrete guidance to implement this public integrity strategy in practice.

With guidance for governments, companies, civil society organisations and individuals, the Handbook is part of the OECD’s ongoing commitment to support countries in implementing sustainable public integrity reforms. It is complemented by the OECD Public Integrity Maturity Models, which allow users to measure the maturity of public integrity systems and identify where the systems are situated in relation to good practice. The maturity models also show a way for progress by outlining what measures are needed to achieve a leading model. The Handbook is also accompanied by the forthcoming OECD Public Integrity Indicators, which enable governments to build the evidence-base and support domestic dialogue for reforms. The OECD will also prepare a Public Integrity Toolkit, which will feature real cases of good practice and concrete tools to support reforms.

The Handbook benefitted from extensive collaboration with the Working Party of Senior Public Integrity Officials, who shared their good practices and tools to drive implementation in their own countries. Delegates from the Working Group on Bribery, the Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct and the Working Party on State Ownership and Privatisation Practices were also consulted for their insights and examples on advancing integrity in the private sector.

The Handbook was approved and declassified for publication by the OECD Public Governance Committee via written procedure on 12 March 2020.

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