Public finance is a crucial risk area for corruption and mismanagement in the water sector, as large amounts of money are allocated and change hands.
Water sector practitioners have a role to play in ensuring that financial rules are applied properly in the sector with sufficient due diligence and control. They also can contribute their expertise and voice to overarching reforms addressing the design of more efficient and transparent public financial management systems. Promoting more participation and transparency are key means to achieving this.
Participation & transparency: essentials for integrity risk mitigation in public finance
Tools and approaches like public consultations, participatory budgeting, budget tracking, public expenditure tracking surveys or community monitoring of procurement and infrastructure development can be used by civil society actors to influence processes and demand accountability.
Requirements for the disclosure of detailed budgets, procurement and contracting documents, and e-procurement mechanisms are useful means to introduce more transparency to complex processes and encourage more accountability and participation.
These tools and mechanisms require that water sector practitioners and partners in other sectors collaborate to ensure they are adopted and implemented, but also known, understood and used by the stakeholders affected by the processes.
Voluntary commitments to integrity
Procurement and contracting processes can include commitments from all parties to abstain from offering, demanding or accepting bribes. An integrity pact, between all parties and an independent monitor, can formalize such a commitment. The independent monitor verifies the agreement and whether it is upheld by all signatories.
Such an integrity pact is a powerful tool. For public authorities: it can ensure better value for money on contracts, limit the distorting impact of corruption and establish public trust. For bidding companies: an integrity pact can level the playing field and limit unfair competition. To be successful however, it requires political will and commitment and maximum transparency throughout its development.