OECD Recommendation on Public Integrity

Corruption hinders both public and private sector productivity. It perpetuates inequality and poverty, impacting well-being and the distribution of income and undermining opportunities to participate equally in social, economic and political life.

Integrity is essential for building strong institutions and assures citizens that the government is working in their interest, not just for the select few. Integrity is not just a moral issue, it is also about making economies more productive, public sectors more efficient, societies and economies more inclusive. It is about restoring trust, not just trust in government, but trust in public institutions, regulators, banks, and corporations.

In 2017, the OECD adopted a new Recommendation on Public Integrity. Download the brochure with the text of the recommendation in the following languages:

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3 pillars for integrity

The OECD Recommendation on Public Integrity provides policy makers with the blueprint for a public integrity strategy. It shifts the focus from ad hoc integrity policies to a comprehensive, risk-based approach with an emphasis on cultivating a culture of integrity across the whole of society. It is built on 3 pillars:

System pillar

Culture pillar

  accountability pillar

Having a system in place
to reduce opportunities
for corrupt behaviour

  Changing a culture 
to make corruption
unacceptable socially 

Making people
accountable for
their actions

3 areas of focus

When addressing corruption issues, 3 areas need particular focus:

Policy Capture

Public policies are at the centre of the relationship between citizens and governments and determine the quality of citizens’ daily lives. Policy capture, where public decisions over policies are directed away from the public interest towards a special interest, can exacerbate inequalities and undermine democratic values, economic growth and trust in government. The OECD Framework to Prevent Policy Capture puts forward mechanisms to privilege the public interest through engaging stakeholders, ensuring transparency, promoting accountability, and enhancing organisational integrity policies.

Public Procurement

Public procurement remains an untapped source of economic and social prosperity. It represents 13% of GDP in OECD countries and 1/3 of overall government expenditures, yet remains largely bureaucratic, inefficient and highly vulnerable to corruption. The OECD Recommendation on Public Procurement outlines principles and mechanisms to ensure integrity and curb corruption in public procurement (integrity, transparency, stakeholder participation, accessibility, e-procurement, and oversight and control).

Public Infrastructure

Public infrastructure, especially large-scale projects are particularly vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement. Budget overruns, delays and white elephants are common. Yet, public infrastructure also presents an opportunity for the government to showcase integrity and enhance citizens’ trust. Governments can capitalise on such major events and investments by applying the OECD Integrity Framework for Public Infrastructure and demonstrate that infrastructure projects can be productive, transparent and free from corruption.

Definition of Public Integrity

Public integrity refers to the consistent alignment of, and adherence to, shared ethical values, principles and norms for upholding and prioritising the public interest over private interests in the public sector.

This recommendation updates and replaces the 1998 OECD Recommendation on Improving Ethical Conduct in the Public Service, to respond to the context changes and take into account new evidence in the field of integrity. The Recommendation was drafted in consultation with many stakeholders. A public consultation was held. You can access the Concise Summary of the received comments and the Compilation of all comments received.

The full text of the Recommendation of the Council on Public Integrity is available on the OECD database of legal instruments where you can also find additional information and any future updates.