GIFTS AND HOSPITALITIES
Local governments should have a clear and strong policy of prohibitions and restrictions on officials seeking or accepting any form of improper benefit (including any tangible or intangible gifts and favours, or travels or accommodation and entertainment expenses).
Gifts may be given to local officials in expectation or as gratitude to influence their performances or non-performances over official duties or functions.
Although a gift registry is usually included in the Integrity Action Plans, local officials often fail to notify the receipt of a gift in the gift register. On the other hand, when this register has been constantly and correctly used, municipalities seem to be less exposed to corruptive practices.
A gift is often a prelude to a relationship between the giving and the receiving party, which may lead to integrity or corruption risks. For these reasons, conducting appropriate periodic trainings for local officials on the restrictions on gifts and hospitality would be beneficial for municipalities to adequately prevent corruption and positively implement local government functions.
An integrity risk assessment in the area of gifts and hospitality may identify some or all of the following risk factors (the list is not limited):
Officials take gifts and/or accept hospitality or other benefits contrary to applicable requirements and ethical commitments.
No Gift Register is created by local government. Gift Register exists, but is not kept up-to-date. Officials fail to notify receipt of gift to be registered in the Gift Register. Gift Register is not reported to the National Anti-corruption Office, although required by law.
RISK MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES
Following the risk assessment, the local government may consider the following risk management strategies as development points:
Enact and/or commit to implement procedures that regulate the offer or receipt of gifts, benefits and hospitality. Communicate these effectively to all staff (i.e. through information leaflet, awareness events, internal communication, etc).
Conduct a training needs assessment in the area, provide training, as appropriate (induction and continued). Make use of diverse training formats (participatory training, online training, peer to peer, etc.). Evaluate relevant training outcomes to ensure effectiveness of training.
Maintain a functioning system for reporting (internal and external) on the implementation of the regulations/procedures. Make all staff fully aware of how and to whom to report in cases where a gift has been offered to them (through internal rules and instructions, awareness events, information leaflets, etc). Test awareness levels, as appropriate (i.e. through questionnaires, tests, interviews)
Institute a systematic documented process of registration of gifts through a Gift Register. Make the register publicly available. Report periodically the Gift register to the National anticorruption body, if required by law.
Ensure adequate response to identified breaches. Take immediate corrective actions. Provide sufficient information on violations to staff to raise awareness (through internal meetings, periodic reporting, etc).