Meeting notes 7th January 2013

Anti-corruption

by Tim Hughes

Tim is coordinator of the UK Open Government Network.

This Thursday (10 January), the UK OGP civil society network and Cabinet Office Transparency Team will be holding the third session in the series on the content of the UK’s next open government National Action Plan. The session will take place at the (newly launched) Open Data Institute and will be on the priority area of: “Anti-corruption”.

More details on the types of issues and policies that the session will cover can be found below. If you have any questions, please get in touch via: tim@involve.org.uk

To recap…

On 15 November, members of the Cabinet Office Transparency Team and the civil society network met to scope out the areas of the UK’s next open government National Action Plan. Four areas were identified based on the UK Government’s priorities and the civil society network’s vision for the Open Government Partnership:

  • Extending the principles of openness and transparency
  • Moving forward the global agenda on openness and transparency
  • Participation and open policy making
  • Anti-corruption

Over the coming weeks, a session will be on each of these areas in turn to begin discussions with relevant policy makers regarding the policies and commitments that could be included under each. A schedule of these meetings can be found on the Open Government Partnership UK website.

Anti-corruption

To give an idea of the types of issues and policies that the session will cover, here’s the relevant section from a document drafted after the 15 November session, which sets out some examples of policies and issues that the civil society network would like to consider under each of the themes:

Priority 4:  Anti-Corruption – effective policies, strengthening the rule of law and increasing deterrents

Anti-corruption is a key underlying principle of the Open Government Partnership.
Combating corruption is essential to ensure that public resources can be used for development and are not siphoned off through embezzlement, bribery or tax evasion.  The current UK action plan emphasises open government for improved public service delivery, and thus tackling corruption should be seen as an integral part of this agenda.

Consequently the forthcoming action plan should prioritise anti-corruption, not only through increasing transparency, but also through effective criminalisation and strong enforcement of anti-corruption legislation.  In particular we want to see:

  • A commitment to ensure sufficient resourcing for the UK Bribery Act (particularly the Serious Fraud Office and the diplomatic posts) and for the UK Bribery Act to be extended to all legal persons incorporated in the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.
  • OGP progress on bribery: To urge all OGP countries to commit in their National Action plans to make progress in adopting and enforcing strong anti-bribery legislation.
  • A commitment to strengthen the quality of evidence of government policies, actions and transactions as the basis for detecting abuse and holding public servants accountable.
  • A commitment to establish a publicly available register of the ultimate beneficial owners of companies, and for all OGP countries to take measures to tackle money laundering.
  • Robust protection for whistleblowers, a commitment to close the loopholes in the Public Interest Disclosure Act and to encourage all organisations to establish effective whistle-blowing arrangements for their staff.
  • A commitment to initiate a cross-Whitehall anti-corruption strategy, which outlines how different departments and agencies are working to tackle corruption and how anti-corruption is being prioritised in different international fora (e.g. OGP, G8, G20 etc).
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