Evaluation of Enforcement of the Law on Conflict of Interest and Corruption in Public Institutions (2016-2020)
Transparency International Georgia (TI Georgia) analyzed how the Law on Conflict of Interest and Corruption in Public Institutions (CoI) works in practice at the central level, at the ministries, identified prevailing challenges, and developed recommendations to improve both the legislation and its enforcement in practice.
- Violations of the Law on Conflict of Interest and Corruption in Public Institutions are not being identified in practice. In most cases, the mechanisms needed to fulfill the requirements of this law are not in place at all.
- The development, implementation monitoring and coordination of the National Anti-corruption Policy, as well as the work of the Anti-Corruption Council have been suspended. The Secretariat of the Anti-Corruption Council does not actually exist. Currently, the Government of Georgia (GoG) has no interest in carrying out anti-corruption reforms.
- Practice demonstrates that the system of asset declaration monitoring in Georgia has not become a powerful tool for combating corruption and conflict of interest. The existing monitoring system mainly serves to check whether the declared information is complete and correct, not to identify and prevent possible corruption-related offences.
- The obligation to submit asset declarations does not apply to all prosecutors, investigators of anti-corruption cases and advisors to state-political officials.
- The whistleblower protection mechanism does not exist in practice. Public institutions have not introduced a unified standard of identifying whistleblower statements, responding to them and collecting information. The whistleblowing regulations still do not apply to the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Internal Affairs; corresponding regulations were supposed to be developed as early as seven years ago.
- The restrictions concerning gifts are not given appropriate consideration and are often ignored altogether.
- The flawed practice of disregarding public information requests has become a regular occurrence for public institutions. Two ministries (Ministries of Finance and Culture) and Administration of the Government ignored TI Georgia’s FOI request.
Transparency International Georgia’s Recommendations to the Government of Georgia
In addition to the specific recommendations listed below, it is necessary to establish an Independent Anti-corruption Agency in order to address a number of issues discussed in the study. International practice proves that an independent anti-corruption institution is an effective mechanism for combating systemic corruption. TI Georgia and its partner organizations have been calling on the Georgian government to implement this reform for years now. The relevant legislative package is currently initiated in the Parliament.
- Ensure that the Law on Conflict of Interest and Corruption in Public Institutions is enforced in practice: At the institutional level – introducing internal mechanisms and putting them into practice in order to detect, examine and respond to alleged violations of the law; At the central level – determining a state institution responsible for supervising the enforcement of the law, collection, processing, analysis and practical application of statistical data.
- Restore operation Anti-Corruption Inter-Agency Coordination Council, and ensure meaningful participation of civil society organizations in its work. Staffing the Anti-Corruption Secretariat in full and equipping it with appropriate resources. Launching without delay the process of developing the National Anti-Corruption Strategy and the corresponding Action Plan.
- Extend the obligation to submit asset declarations to prosecutors of all levels, investigators of anti-corruption cases, advisors to state-political officials.
- Expand the list of information to be included in the declaration form.
- Minimize the possibility of not forming an independent commission for declaration monitoring. To this end, revise and improve the rule of establishment of the commission and its membership criteria.
- Use asset declaration monitoring as a mechanism of detecting and preventing conflict of interest and incompatibility of duties.
- Civil Service Bureau to start monitoring declarations based on anonymous reports; as well as, checking various open-source reports, including information about possible violations disseminated by the media.
- Improving and putting into practice the system of reporting corruption-related offences and whistleblower protection. Determining by law a state body at the central level to be responsible for:
- supervising the enforcement of the legislation related to whistleblowing;
- regular collection, processing and analysis of detailed statistics and other information concerning whistleblowing and whistleblower protection; as well as for their proactive publishing.
- Develop a unified state standard for identifying a whistleblowing report, responding to it and collecting corresponding data.
- Ministries of Internal Affairs and Defence to adopt the special whistleblower protection legislation based on international best practice, and enforce in practice to a full extent.
- Civil Service Bureau to conduct proper monitoring of restrictions on gifts at the stage of declaration monitoring.
- Determine a state body to supervise the enforcement of restrictions on gifts; regularly collect, process and analyze detailed statistical and other data; and proactively publish them.
* The Ministry of Finance of Georgia granted FOI response only after the publication of the Report, thus it does not reflect information provided by the letter. In any case, key findings of the Report remain unchanged, since the Ministry of Finance also did not identify any violations of the CoI law in 2016-2020.