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Australia

Strengthen Anti-Corruption Framework (AU0016)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Australia Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Attorney-General's Department

Support Institution(s): Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, Australian National Audit Office. Australian Public Service Commission. Commonwealth Ombudsman. Australian Federal Police. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (majority of federal agencies). relevant state and territory agencies (for example. anti-corruption agencies). Transparency International Australia. National Integrity Committee. The Australia Institute. Australian Research Council Linkage Project LP160700267 (2076-2079) Strengthening Australia's national integrity system: priorities for reform (Griffith University). the Accountability Round Table. Australian Open Government Partnership Civil Society Network. Law Council of Australia. other relevant non-government and private sector stakeholders (for example. compliance. advisory and law firms).

Policy Areas

Anti-Corruption, Anti-Corruption Institutions, Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: Australia Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

Strengthen the national anti-corruption framework
Commitment Start and End Date
September 2078-August 2020
Lead implementing agency/actor

Attorney-General's Department
Commitment description
What is the public problem that the commitment will address?

The frameworks. laws and reporting channels that make up the dispersed and multi-faceted national anti-corruption framework are not well understood. The 2077 Senate Select Committee on a National Integrity Commission recommended the current system be strengthened to make it more ·coherent. comprehensible and accessible' and give ·careful consideration to establishing a Commonwealth agency with broad scope and jurisdiction to address integrity and corruption matters·.
The Government is committed to addressing corruption wherever it occurs. and to increasing public awareness of and confidence in our systems to prevent. detect and combat corruption.
There is concern from some sectors and civil society representatives that corruption in the public sector is not being adequately addressed. A number of submissions throughout the public consultation process for the second National Action Plan called for the establishment of a national integrity body.
There may be opportunities to strengthen the existing framework to ensure it functions more effectively and more cohesively, to better communicate the functions and agencies that make up the national anti-corruption framework. and/or improve trust and confidence in the framework. What is the commitment?
TheGovernment will continue to consider and assess all options for strengthening the national anti-corruption framework to:
ensure that sectors and activities vulnerable to corruption are covered;
improve the framework's coherence. effectiveness and functioning; and
better communicate the framework.
We will do this by analysing the coverage afforded at present by relevant government departments. agencies and other bodies and identifying any significant gaps in their jurisdiction. functions and resources. Our intention will be to continue to ensure the national anti-corruption framework is comprehensive. cohesive and effective
How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem?
The commitment will involve the Government continuing to review the national integrity framework and assess all options to ensure public sector accountability and anti-corruption mechanisms are integrated, cohesive, effective, and accessible.
Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?
The commitment will advance the OGP values of transparency and public accountability by:
Improving the transparency and accessibility of information on anti-corruption policies and practices, and enhancing anti-corruption and public accountability mechanisms
Additional Information
The government will consider available research and information, including the Australian Research Council Linkage Project LP160100267 (2016-2019) Strengthening Australia’s national integrity system: priorities for reform being led by Griffith University, Transparency International and others.
Milestone Activity with a verifiable deliverable
Government response to the report of the senate Select Committee on a National Integrity Commission
7/1/2018 – 12/31/2018
Civic engagement in ongoing review of the national integrity framework
7/1/2018 – 12/31/2018
Implement Government response to the Report of the Senate Select Committee on a National Integrity Commission and any other outcomes of ongoing review of the national integrity framework
9/1/2018 – 6/30/2020
Contact Information
Contacts
Integrity Branch, Attorney General’s Department
Email and phone
anticorruption@ag.gov.au
Other Actors Involved

Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, Australian
National Audit Office. Australian Public Service Commission.
Commonwealth Ombudsman. Australian Federal Police.
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (majority of
federal agencies). relevant state and territory agencies (for
example. anti-corruption agencies).

Transparency International Australia. National Integrity
Committee. The Australia Institute. Australian Research Council
Linkage Project LP160700267 (2076-2079) Strengthening
Australia's national integrity system: priorities for reform (Griffith
University). the Accountability Round Table. Australian Open
Government Partnership Civil Society Network. Law Council of
Australia. other relevant non-government and private sector
stakeholders (for example. compliance. advisory and law firms).

IRM Midterm Status Summary

1. Strengthen the national anticorruption framework

Commitment Text:

The Government will continue to consider and assess all options for strengthening the national anti-corruption framework to:

  • ensure that sectors and activities vulnerable to corruption are covered;
  • improve the framework’s coherence, effectiveness and functioning; and
  • better communicate the framework.

We will do this by analysing the coverage afforded at present by relevant government departments, agencies and other bodies and identifying any significant gaps in their jurisdiction, functions and resources. Our intention will be to continue to ensure the national anti-corruption framework is comprehensive, cohesive and effective.

Milestones:

  • Government response to the Report of the Senate Select Committee on a National Integrity Commission
  • Civic engagement in ongoing review of the national integrity framework
  • Implement Government response to the Report of the Senate Select Committee on a National Integrity Commission and any other outcomes of ongoing review of the national integrity framework

Start Date: September 2018                                                                 End Date: August 2020

Editorial Note: This is a partial version of the commitment text. For the full commitment text, see the Australia National Action Plan available at https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Australia_Action-Plan_2018-2020.pdf.

Context and Objectives

This commitment, like Commitment 12 in Australia’s first national action plan, aims to assess, and possibly to reform, the framework of measures intended to identify and respond to corruption at the federal government level. As the Senate Select Committee on a National Integrity Commission reported in September 2017:

“the [federal government’s] approach to public sector integrity and corruption comprises a multi-agency framework in which different agencies have distinct but at times overlapping responsibilities for maintaining the integrity of and addressing corruption within the Commonwealth public sector.” [1]

This has resulted “in a complex and poorly understood system that can be opaque, difficult to access and challenging to navigate.” [2] The Committee therefore recommended that the federal government strengthen the national integrity framework to make it more coherent, comprehensible, and accessible. [3]

Several civil society members, in submissions to the Senate Select Committee report and in the development of the second national action plan, called for a national integrity commission to restore public confidence that corruption is being addressed and fill gaps in the current system. [4] However, the Senate Select Committee did not recommend a new integrity agency. Rather, the Committee merely advocated for further consideration of the need for a national integrity commission, following two reviews that were incomplete at the time of the Committee’s report: a review of the jurisdiction and capabilities of the current integrity framework as part of Commitment 12 (NAP1); and a project funded by the Australian Research Council involving Griffith University and Transparency International Australia. [5] Neither review was complete at the time of establishing the second action plan. [6]

This commitment is verifiable, but it lacks specificity in its milestones. It calls for a government response to the Senate Select Committee report, civic engagement in reviewing the existing national integrity framework, and implementation of the response and the results of that consultation. These are all identifiable at the end of the implementation period. However, whether the precise nature and form of implementation will involve publicly verifiable steps will depend on the nature of the government response and results of the civic engagement. Given past practice, the government response to the Senate Select Committee Report will likely involve publishing the government’s implementation steps, if any. Similarly, civic engagement will generally involve consultation of some form outside of government.

The general description of the commitment recognises that:

“[t]here may be opportunities to strengthen the existing framework to ensure it functions more effectively and more cohesively, to better communicate the functions and agencies that make up the national anti-corruption framework, and/or improve trust and confidence in the framework.” [7]

However, the commitment does not identify any opportunities to enhance public accountability or to make available further information to the public. These values may, however, be enhanced through the government response or consultation process. Although it may prove to be limited to the provision of information, the proposition for civic engagement in the review of the integrity framework makes this commitment relevant to the OGP value of civic participation.

This commitment stands to have minor potential impact on ensuring a comprehensive, cohesive, and effective national anticorruption framework. However, as a result of the commitment’s lack of specificity, it is difficult to conclude the extent of its potential impact. The commitment does not detail the nature of any civic engagement and there has been no other indication of the nature of that engagement outside of the commitment context. Given the significant consultation involved in preparing the Senate Select Committee report, further civic engagement is unlikely to extend the range of civil society, business or community groups, or individuals who might be interested in this issue. However, the presence of civil society in implementing this commitment may incrementally change standard practice through the independent review of the existing framework and mobilising public support.

Next Steps

There have been several inquiries into the establishment of an integrity body at the federal level and a variety of views expressed as to its jurisdiction and powers. The re-elected Liberal/National party coalition government will likely introduce legislation to establish a Commonwealth Integrity Commission, as announced in December 2018; however, they have not yet proposed such legislation. [8] Commitment 1 is premised on the continuing relevance of the current multi-agency approach to government integrity. Continuing to review this approach may therefore be of limited value given the likelihood of a new body being introduced.

Given the potential importance of such a body in holding public bodies accountable, the design, implementation, and operation of the proposed Commonwealth Integrity Commission should be included in any future national action plans. This could include a collaborative engagement between government, civil society, and the public with better-defined and measurable indicators of success. For example, the government could assess public perception of the need for a national integrity commission through a survey. Results of the survey could then be used to demand more political commitment from the Senate Select Committee to either establish a commission or, alternatively, develop a standard reference to streamline the current multi-agency framework.

[1] “Senate Select Committee on a National Integrity Commission Report”, (Commonwealth of Australia, 13 Sep. 2017),  https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/National_Integrity_Commission/IntegrityCommissionSen/Report (“Senate Select Committee Report”).
[2] Senate Select Committee Report at 217.
[3] Senate Select Committee Report at 218.
[4] See the range of submissions in the Senate Select Committee Report at 182–185.
[5] Griffith University, “Public Integrity and Anti-Corruption” (accessed Sept. 2020), https://www.griffith.edu.au/centre-governance-public-policy/our-research/public-integrity-anti-corruption.
[6] A. J. Brown, et al., A National Integrity Commission – Options for Australia (Griffith University and Transparency International Australia, Aug. 2018), https://www.griffith.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0029/518249/Full-Report-National-Integrity-Options-August-2018.pdf.
[7] Commonwealth of Australia, Australia OGP National Action Plan 2018–2020, (2018), 9, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Australia_Action-Plan_2018-2020.pdf.
[8] Dept. of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, “Legislation Proposed for Introduction in the 2019 Winter/Spring Sittings” (accessed Jun. 2020), https://www.pmc.gov.au/sites/default/files/publications/2019-winter-spring-public-list.pdf.

Commitments

  1. Strengthen Anti-Corruption Framework

    AU0016, 2018, Anti-Corruption

  2. Political Donation Transparency

    AU0017, 2018, Legislation & Regulation

  3. Data Sharing

    AU0018, 2018, Access to Information

  4. Improve Public Service Practice

    AU0019, 2018, Capacity Building

  5. Access to Information

    AU0020, 2018, Access to Information

  6. Enhance Public Engagement Skills in the Public Service

    AU0021, 2018, Capacity Building

  7. Independent Review of the Australian Public Service

    AU0022, 2018, Capacity Building

  8. Expand Open Contracting

    AU0023, 2018, Access to Information

  9. Whiste-Blower Protections

    AU0001, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  10. Beneficial Ownership Transparency

    AU0002, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  11. Extractive Industries Transparency

    AU0003, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  12. Combating Corporate Crime

    AU0004, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  13. Data Innovation

    AU0005, 2016, Access to Information

  14. Public Trust in Data Sharing

    AU0006, 2016, Access to Information

  15. Digitization of Government Services

    AU0007, 2016, Capacity Building

  16. Information Management and Access Laws

    AU0008, 2016, Access to Information

  17. Freedom of Information

    AU0009, 2016, Access to Information

  18. Access to Government Data

    AU0010, 2016, Access to Information

  19. Electoral System and Political Parties

    AU0011, 2016, Political Integrity

  20. National Integrity Framework

    AU0012, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  21. Open Contracting

    AU0013, 2016, Access to Information

  22. OGP NAP

    AU0014, 2016, Public Participation

  23. Public Participation

    AU0015, 2016, Capacity Building

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