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Albania

Create and implement integrity plans across all ministeries (AL0065)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Albania Action Plan 2020-2022

Action Plan Cycle: 2020

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: National Coordinator against Corruption, Ministry of Justice

Support Institution(s):

Policy Areas

Anti-Corruption, Anti-Corruption Institutions, Capacity Building, E-Government, Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: Albania Action Plan Review 2020-2022

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Pending IRM Review

Potential Impact: Pending IRM Review

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

What is the public problem that the commitment will address? The potential abuse of entrusted power for personal benefit exposes all public institutions in all countries to the risks of corruption during the administration of their duties and responsibilities. Corruption weakens public trust in government, hampers legitimate economic activity, threatens public resources and income, and negatively impacts public administration and service delivery thus poses poises serious and far reaching risks to country development. In 2019, Albania was ranked 106/180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruptions Perceptions Index. Furthermore, according to the 2019Trust in Governance Opinion Poll of the 2500 Albanians surveyed 87% perceived petty corruption to be either widespread or vary widespread, meanwhile 85% perceived grand corruption to be either widespread or very widespread. As such, addressing corruption in presents a significant challenge that requires measures throughout all levels of the public administration. Since 2017, the Ministry of Justice in its role as National Coordinator against Corruption has lead the government’s anti-corruption policy making efforts and the preparation of related laws and bylaws. As the lead responsible public institution for anticorruption the MoJ/National Coordinator against Corruption leads the inter-institutional commitment to ensure a higher performance and culture in the fight against corruption. This inter-institutional commitment focuses on the most vulnerable and corruption-sensitive sectors and strives to promote and ensure an impartial, honest and efficient public administration with civil servants and other public officials with high values, principles and integrity.

What is the commitment? An integrity plan is essentially a risk management plan that focuses on the potential corruption risks an institution may face and consequently can be a powerful anti-corruption instrument. It identifies the primary areas of corruption risk for a particular organization and presents a strategy with concrete mitigation actions, measures and procedures in order to identify these risks and address them such that all levels of the institution operate with integrity. The success of an integrity plan depends both on the soundness of the methodology of its design – how suitable it is to the particular organization, how accountable it requires the individuals of the institution to be, the Commitments | Open Government in the Fight against Corruption | Commitment 1 comprehensiveness of its scope – and its implementation and monitoring process. This commitment establishes a framework for the development and implementation of integrity plans across the public administration. It focuses on establishing a methodology and the development and implementation of a leading integrity plan, through the Ministry of Justice, in order to promote not only increased integrity within the Ministry of Justice, but to also lead by example for line ministries and sub-ordinate institutions. The commitment prioritizes structured reporting frameworks and consultative and monitoring mechanisms that promote involvement of and accountability to citizens.

Objective: This commitment aims to strengthen the integrity framework across the public administration such that all government institutionsoperate with integrity and functionality, in order to prevent corruption both across the board and in their daily activities. The commitment expects that by the end of 2022, in accordance withInter-Sectoral Strategy against Corruption (ISAC) 2015-2023, all ministries and subordinate ministries will have drafted and begun implementing their integrity plan. The development and implementation of integrity plans that clearly define ethical obligations in the workplace across the public administration aims to build and maintain a work culture of ethical work practices. Expected results: • Integrity plan guidance and integrity risk assessment methodology for the central government approved; • Ministry of Justice’s Integrity Plan is approved and implemented; • Integrity risk assessment conducted in Ministry of Justice subordinate institutions & integrity plans approved; • Integrity risk assessment conducted in line ministries& integrity plans approved.

How will the commitment contribute to solving the public problem? In cooperation with the Albanian non-governmental governance think thank the Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM) the Ministry of Justice/NCAC has co-created and adopted the “Integrity Risk Assessment Methodology in Central Government Institutions” (milestone 1; milestone 3)a guide/methodology on how central administration institutions should assess integrity risk in order to initiate activities to maintain the integrity and performance of public administration employees, at the executive and political level. Workshops will familiarize Ministry of Justice employees with best practices and procedures and train them on the application of assessment frameworks and tools in order to strengthen their technical in identifying, assessing and addressing integrity risks (milestone 2). Through the same cooperation the “Ministry of Justice Integrity Plan 2020-2023” has been drafted through an open and consultative process (milestone 4). A roundtable with public institutions will promote integrity plans and explain the mechanisms and methodology and using the Ministry of Justice’s Integrity Plan as a model document to line ministries and subordinate institutions (milestone 5). Following the consultative methodology developed by the Ministry of Justice subordinate institutions and all central pubic institutions (ministries) will each undergo their own integrity risk assessments to draft their own integrity plans in accordance with their respective areas of responsibility and specific risk factors (milestone 6; milestone 7). Once these plans have been approved, ensuring they meet all the guidelines specified in the methodology, an e-bulletin series will be produced to facilitate the transparency of the integrity plans and accountability to its implementation (milestone 8). To ensure proper implementation of the integrity plans -- from risk identification to risk mitigation -- they will be accompanied by a comprehensive monitoring process that follows a structured monitoring and evaluation framework (milestone 9). Monitoring of the implementation of the Ministry of Justice’s Integrity Plan will be done in consultation with stakeholders and civil society organizations (CSOs) with feedback published and integrated such that the ministry is held accountable to the public as well as to internal systems (milestone 10). Evaluation reports will be regularly conducted and published in real to be available for public comment (milestone 11) to then produce and publish the resulting recommendations to improve the implementation process (milestone 12). This monitoring process will be applied to the implementation of the line ministries and subordinate institutions’ integrity plans once they have begun their implementation phase (milestone 13). OGP challenge affected by this measures Improve public services Increase efficient management of public Resources Increase public integrity Increase corporat e accountability Create a safer community for citizens & civil society ☒ ☐ ☒ ☒ ☐

Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values? Transparency & Access to Information • Does the ide a disclose more information to the public? • Does the ide a improve the quality of information disclosed to the public? • Does the ide a improve accessibility of information to the public? • Does the ide a e nable the right to information? ☒Y es ☐N o All con sultativ e meetings, r ound-tables and resulting reports and plans of each ministry and su bordinate in stitutions’ integrity plan dev elopment pr ocess will be published and made publically av ailable. Annual monitoring reports on the implementation of integrity plans will be published for public con sumption and will be accompanied with supplementary detailed information to facilitate cit izen s’ comprehension and under standing of the plan s. Public Accountability • Does the ide a create or improve rules, re gulations, and mechanisms to publicly hold gove rnme nt officials answerable to the ir actions? • Does the ide a make the government accountable to the public and not solely to inte rnal syste ms? ☒Y es ☐N o Monitoring reports will track the pr ogress of the initiativ e and the implementation of each in stitution’s integrity plan. These will be completed through public consultations and be published for public consumption in order to enable the ability for civ il society and citizen s to h old in stitutions answerable and accountable to the pr ogress and achiev ement their plan’s stated commitments. Public & Civic Participation • Does the ide a cre ate or improve opportunities, or capabilities for the public to inform or influe nce de cisions? • Does the ide a cre ate or improve the e nabling e nvironme nt for civil socie ty? ☒Y es ☐N o The implementation of publically av ailable integrity plans will help to pr omote public and civ ic engagement on sev eral lev els. These efforts aim to increase public trust n ot only in the in stitution s themselv es, but towards the pr ocess. They work to address the disillusionment of civ il society from participating in g ov ernance reforms. Fir stly , by requiring public in stitutions to con sulate with the public in the design of their integrity plans the commitment will support co-ownership of the process. Secondly , the publication of the plans and inclusion of supplementary information will foster accessibility and citizen awareness and comprehension of the planned reforms that will in turn make cit izen s more in formed and con sequ ently better posit ioned to hold the institutions accountable. Finally , a collaborativ e monitoring framework will prov ide on -g oing opportunities for public accountability and civ ic contributions so that citizens can be a ssured that their contributions and concerns are taken under consideration and applied and therefor e feel incentiv ized to participate and maintain engagement. Technology & Innovation • Will te chnological innovation be used in with one of the other three OGP values to advance participation, transpare ncy or accountability? ☒Y es☐N o Online publication of reports enable transparency in real time coupled with online opportunities for stakeholder con sultation and feedback enable a greater number of citizen s to prov ide participate and pr ov ide feedback. Additionally , the use of an e-bulletin will support transparency and accountability on the implementation of integrity plants.

Milestone Activities Milestones Indicators Responsible Institution / s New or Continued Idea Timeframe Measurable & verifiable achievements to accomplish this objective Result Indicators Output Indicators Lead Responsible Institution Supporting / Coordinating Agencies / Institutions New or continued from 2018- 2020 OGP AP Start Date End Dat e Priority Measure 1: Integrity plans drafted and approved by central government institutions Milestone 1: Methodology document: Guidance / integrity risk a ssessment methodology for the central g ov ernment drafted Central public administration institutions with better performance, accountability and transparency Manual (methodology) completed Ministry of Ju stice (MoJ) Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) ☐N o ☒Y es Integrity Plans 6M I 2020 6M I 2020 Milestone 2: Strengthening the capacities of the MoJ technical sta ff on the identification of integrity risks Workshops on the identi fication of work processes/Analysis and assessment of the intensity of integri ty risks. MoJ CSOs ☐N o ☒Y es Integrity Plans 6M I 2020 6M I 2020 Milestone 3: Appr oval and Pu blication of the Integrity Risk Assessment Methodology for the central g ov ernment. Manual (methodology) approved MoJ ☐N o ☒Y es Integrity Plans 6M II 2020 6M II 2020 Milestone 4: Draft ing, consulting, approval and publication of the IP document of the MoJ. Approval of MoJ IP document MoJ ☐N o ☒Y es Integrity Plans 6M II 2020 6M II 2020 Milestone 5: In formation and presentation mechanisms to MoJ and LM subordinate in stitutions, for the risk a ssessment process and presentation of the integrity guide MoJ Integrity Plan promotion roundtable MoJ CSOs ☐N o ☒Y es Integrity Plans 6M II 2020 6M II 2020 Milestone 6: Integrity risk a ssessment in MoJ su bordinate in stitutions according to the model dev eloped in MoJ; Integrity plan drafted. Integri ty risk assessment in MoJ su bordinate institutions & integri ty plan drafted. MoJ su bordinates MoJ ☐N o ☒Y es Integrity Plans 6M I 2021 6M II 2021 Milestone 7: Integrity risk a ssessment; drafting, approval of Integrity Plans by all central in stitutions (ministries). Ministries have approved IPs Ministries ☐N o ☒Y es Integrity Plans Jan. 2022 Dec. 2022 Milestone 8: Increa sed transparency by public administration in stitutions on IP (e-bulletin) N o. of bulletins produced / pu blished (2021/2022) MoJ ☐N o ☒Y es Integrity Plans 6M I 2021 6M II 2022 Priority Measure 2: Comprehensive analysis on the applicability of integrity plans in the Ministry of Justice and line ministries Milestone 9: Methodology document: instrument on monitoring Integrity Plans in central g ov ernment in stitutions Manual (methodology) monitoring/evaluation of IP implementation, conducted and approved MoJ CSOs ☐N o ☒Y es Integrity Plans 6M I 2021 6M I 2021 Milestone 10: Draft ing and con sulting the m onitoring report on the implementation of the IP of MoJ with Stakeh older s and CSOs Stakeholder/CSO consultation calendar established & pu blished. Stakeholder consultations MoJ CSOs ☐N o ☒Y es Integrity Plans 6M II 2021 6M II 2021 held. Stakeholder feedback pu blished & response integrated into the monitoring report. Milestone 11: Ev aluation report performed for the implementation of the IP of MoJ is performed ev ery 1 y ear (2 internal reports/ev ery 6 months) during the time of implementation of the plan Evaluation reports conducted. Evaluation reports published & pu blically available in real time. Evaluation reports available for public feedback. MoJ ☐N o ☒Y es Integrity Plans 6M II 2021 6M II 2022 Milestone 12: Pr eparation of recommendation s ba sed on the fin dings of the evaluation performed/added transparency to the giv en recommendation s N o. of recommendations drafted for IPs. Recommendations pu blished in real time for pu blic consumption. MoJ ☐N o ☒Y es Integrity Plans 6M II 2021 6M II 2022 Milestone 13: Draft ing and con sulting the m onitoring report on the implementation of the IP of MoJ su bordinate with Stakeh older s/CSOs through information meetings/w orksh ops Stakeholder/CSO consultation calendar established & pu blished. Stakeholder consultations held. Stakeholder feedback pu blished & response integrated into the monitoring report. MoJ CSOs ☐N o ☒Y es Integrity Plans 6M II 2022 6M II 2022

IRM Midterm Status Summary

Commitment #1: Integrity plans

●      Verifiable: Yes

●      Does it have an open government lens? Yes

●      Potential for results: Substantial

(Ministry of Justice)

For a complete description of the commitment, see Commitment 1 in the action plan.

Context and objectives

This is the first of Albania’s OGP action plans to include activities specifically developing, implementing, and evaluating integrity plans. This commitment reflects activities from the action plan for implementing the Inter-Sectorial Strategy against corruption 2015-2020 (extended to 2023), which includes implementing all ministerial integrity plans. [2] The U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) has supported six Albanian local governments in adopting local integrity plans and is recruiting a consultant to continue similar support for other municipalities through its STAR3 project. [3] The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) recommended that integrity plans be implemented within all ministries. [4] Currently, there are no comprehensive anticorruption risk or monitoring assessments in Albanian central government institutions.

The activities build on the actions of the Ministry of Justice and an NGO, the Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM), which jointly developed a methodology for integrity plans and applied it to the Ministry in 2019. [5] The IDM was engaged in this activity before the adoption of the OGP action plan and it contributed toward the final commitment. [6] While the action plan identifies the need to promote and ensure integrity in public officials and the public administration more broadly, GRECO specifies that the behaviour and actions of top executives should also be included in the plans. [7]

According to IDM, there was favourable space for discussions during development of this commitment, but civil society participation in the co-creation process meetings was low. [8]  They felt this was possibly because integrity plans are a new concept in Albania and expertise may be limited and/or that civil society trust of the consultation process itself may have been quite low. [9] Raising civil society trust in the co-creation process in Albania, whereby their engagement influences the process and content of commitments, may increase participation.

The commitment aims to develop and approve a methodology for producing integrity plans (Milestones 1, 3, and 9), train public officials on applying the methodology (Milestone 2), and produce and publish integrity plans for all central institutions (Milestones 4–7). Activities also include monitoring performance and producing evaluations on plan implementation (Milestones 10–13). The commitment includes public participation as civil society would be consulted on the monitoring of the integrity plans and the government will provide feedback on public input (Milestone 10). Publishing the integrity plans would give public access to the assessments and measures outlined in the plans (Milestone 8).

Currently, an integrity plan exists only for the Ministry of Justice (adopted before the start of the action plan implementation period, in 2020). [10] GRECO stated this particular integrity plan could serve as an example for other ministries as it assesses ethical behaviour of the Minister, Deputy Minister, Chief of Cabinet, and political advisors. [11] The Ministry of Justice also confirmed that it had already shared the methodology with other government ministries and instructed them to begin the process of developing their integrity plans in November 2020 (before the OGP action plan had been adopted). [12]

Potential for results: Substantial

This commitment could lead to corruption-risk assessments being produced for the first time in all central government institutions. For example, the Ministry of Justice Integrity Plan identifies and qualifies risks (high, medium, or low priority), the kind of risk (such as reputational, operational, or financial) and identifies activities and responsible persons to address them. [13]

Full implementation of this commitment could substantially tackle corruption risks in central government institutions, as for the first time, Albanian institutions will identify and outline specific remedial measures. In the Ministry of Justice Integrity Plan, activities are arranged around three objectives to introduce clear internal processes to reduce the risk of corruption, ensure adequate human resourcing, and implement more transparency on the Ministry’s anticorruption work. Activities include the need to adopt and implement rules around accepting gifts, prohibiting the use of state property for personal use, reviews of the procedures for investigating corruption, implementing internal procedures for public consultations and guaranteeing the right to information, as well as publishing audits, financial monitoring reports, contracts, procurement procedures, complaints procedures, and more. [14]

However, the commitment identifies only the Ministry of Justice as collaborating with civil society in monitoring and evaluating the performance of the measures included. [15]

In 2019, citizens made 23,605 complaints related to public administration; 22,423 were addressed, leading to 171 administrative measures and 20 cases going before Anti-Corruption Task Forces. [16] A 2019 poll revealed that 87.5% of Albanians perceive petty corruption as widespread or very widespread in Albanian society. [17]  According to the poll, 15% of Albanians had personally witnessed government corruption at the central level and of the 34.8% of respondents that received a service at the central level, 19.1% paid a bribe for that service. [18] Successful implementation of this commitment could increase public trust in institutions’ capacity to deal with corruption, which might cause an initial increase in corruption reporting in the short term. However, an eventual decrease in the number of complaints and experiences of petty corruption would reflect the efficacy of anticorruption measures inside the public administration. Therefore, rather than look at the number of cases alone at the end of the implementation period, it may be useful to measure the percentages of cases that are prosecuted, sanctions applied, or changes in practice inside government.

In relevance to open government, the commitment would increase transparency by publishing integrity plans, which in the case of the Ministry of Justice, also includes actions to increase transparency of the institution itself and improve internal right-to-information procedures. This could increase the amount of information available to citizens and improve processing of the right of access to information. For the first time, citizens would be able to access proactively public institutions’ exposure to corruption and their anticorruption measures. The commitment is also relevant to participation as it would involve civil society in the monitoring of integrity plan implementation, which could be a substantive change in government practice, depending on how it engages civil society. With the first evaluation of the Ministry of Justice Integrity Plan due in 2021, it should be possible to establish how far the commitment goes in ensuring participation of civil society and the kinds of information that could be expected to be published.

Opportunities, challenges, and recommendations during implementation

IDM has identified both human resourcing and raising awareness of informal and formal measures to implement integrity plans as potential challenges to successful implementation of integrity plans in Albania. [19] The UNDP has committed to providing adequate guidance, resources, and capacity to implement integrity plans, which suggests a risk in maintaining implementation of the plans without external help. [20]

However, institutions must also collaborate closely with civil society, particularly as they monitor implementation. The potential for results is threatened if engagement with civil society is not meaningful. Central state institutions must not only encourage broad engagement, but also clearly demonstrate how civil society and citizen contributions are incorporated into monitoring and evaluation. Implementation can also benefit from cooperation and knowledge-sharing between institutions developing and implementing integrity plans.

Integrity plans will need to address top executives’ behaviour and actions to effectively reduce corruption risks. [21] This includes informing such officials regularly if their behaviour or actions fall foul of anticorruption rules and about the potential consequences. [22] IDM stated that a potential challenge to successful implementation could arise from not having the support of the governing body or head of the institution. [23] The Ministry of Justice has already developed its integrity plan, thus completing some milestones of the commitment. GRECO has praised the MoJ, particularly for its assessment of the ethical behaviour of the Minister, Deputy Minister, Chief of Cabinet, and political advisors in the Ministry, saying that the plan could serve as an example for other ministries. [24]

A longterm challenge for integrity plans is the extent to which they are dynamic and regularly refreshed. [25] Periodic updates can ensure they are effective in preventing corruption and managing the risks in institutions.

  • During implementation of this commitment, sufficient and dedicated human resources should be allocated within ministries to develop, implement, and monitor integrity plans that are tailored to their specific institution. This includes sharing knowledge between institutions as well as giving opportunities to external nongovernmental stakeholders who can help identify risks, propose measures, and take part in monitoring and evaluation.
  • As part of implementing the integrity plans, institutions should address top executives’ behaviour and actions to be effective in reducing corruption. This includes informing top officials regularly about where their behaviour and actions might fall foul of anticorruption rules and ensuring reprimands if this does happen.
[1] Editorial notes: 1. For commitments that are clustered: the assessment of potential for results is conducted at the cluster level, rather than the individual commitments. 2. Commitment short titles may have been edited for brevity. For the complete text of commitments, please see Albania’s action plan: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/albania-action-plan-2020-2022/
[2] Ministry of Justice, Passport of indicators, Inter-sectoral strategy against corruption 2015-2020 (2018), https://www.drejtesia.gov.al/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/passport_indicators.pdf.
[3] UNDP, “Integrity Consultant” (accessed 4 Aug. 2021), https://jobs.undp.org/cj_view_job.cfm?cur_job_id=97170
[4] GRECO (Council of Europe), Fifth Evaluation Round Evaluation Report (3 Dec. 2020), https://rm.coe.int/fifth-evaluation-round-preventing-corruption-and-promoting-integrity-i/1680a0923d.  
[5] Institute for Democracy and Mediation Albania,The Integrity Plan: A new perspective in the fight against corruption” (accessed Jun. 2021), https://idmalbania.org/the-integrity-plan-a-new-perspective-in-the-fight-against-corruption-october-2020/.
[6] Rovena Sulstarova (Institute for Democracy and Mediation Albania), email with IRM researcher, 17 Feb. 2021.
[7] GRECO, Fifth Evaluation Round Evaluation Report.
[8] Sulstarova, email, 17 Feb. 2021.
[9] Sulstarova, email, 17 Feb. 2021.
[10] Institute for Democracy and Mediation Albania,The Integrity Plan: A new perspective in the fight against corruption;” Working Group for drafting the Integrity Plan in the Ministry of Justice, Integrity Plan for the Ministry of Justice 20202023 (Ministry of Justice, 2020), https://www.drejtesia.gov.al/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/2.-Plani-i-Integritetit-p%C3%ABr-Ministrin%C3%AB-e-Drejt%C3%ABsis%C3%AB-2020-2023_EN.pdf.
[11] GRECO, Fifth Evaluation Round Evaluation Report.
[12] Ministry of Justice official, email and interview with IRM researcher, 12 Apr. 2021.
[13] Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Justice Integrity Plan (2020). Document provided by Rovena Pregja (Ministry of Justice), email to IRM researcher, 12 Apr. 2021.
[14] Id.
[15] Alice Taylor, “GRECO Corruption Report Author: Reforms Need to go Beyond a Box Ticking Exercise” (Exit News, 12 May 2020), https://exit.al/en/2020/12/05/greco-corruption-report-author-reforms-need-to-go-beyond-a-box-ticking-exercise/
[16] There were 28 cases that went before the taskforce in 2018, out of the 26,936 overall registered complaints. European Commission, Commission Staff Working Document: Albania 2020 Report, pg. 26 (6 Oct. 2020), https://ec.europa.eu/neighbourhood-enlargement/sites/near/files/albania_report_2020.pdf.
[17] Leonie Vrugtman and Blerjana Bino, Opinion Poll Trust in Governance 2019 Survey Report (IDM, 2020), https://www.al.undp.org/content/dam/albania/NewPublications/trust_in_governance_eng.pdf.
[18] Id.
[19] Rovena Sulstarova (Institute for Democracy and Mediation), emails with IRM researcher, 9 Mar. 2021.
[20] GRECO, Fifth Evaluation Round Evaluation Report.
[21] Id.
[22] GRECO, “Albania must implement the legal framework to prevent corruption of ministers, their advisers and the police” (Council of Europe, 13 Dec. 2020), https://www.coe.int/en/web/greco/-/albania-must-implement-the-legal-framework-to-prevent-corruption-of-ministers-their-advisers-and-the-police.
[23] Sulstarova, email, 9 Mar. 2021.
[24] GRECO, Fifth Evaluation Round Evaluation Report.
[25] Sulstarova, email, 9 Mar. 2021.

Commitments

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