People who work in local governments represent the organization on a daily basis. Citizens expect these people to behave in a way that promotes public confidence and trust in local government.

For these reasons, public officials have to demonstrate in their work high integrity standards, objectivity, openness, fairness, efficiency and accountability. Much of the above depends on the quality and integrity conveyed by the human resource management.

Once critical issues such as favouritism, nepotism and other forms of conflicts of interest are in part of human resources management and in the hiring processes, it may disincentivize the entire staff and lead to low citizen trust in local government.

Corruption-free recruitment processes, in line with the principles of meritocracy, would clarify expectations on standards of behaviour for government staff.


An integrity risk assessment of the HRMD processes may identify some or all of the following risk factors (the list is not limited):

  • Selection procedures are manipulated to secure the appointment of a close friend or family member, or political supporters into public jobs (i.e. political patronage).

  • Officials buy their positions, especially those considered as lucrative and providing opportunities for illicit enrichment.

  • Recruitment and selection are not sufficiently transparent. There is a lack of clear and transparent selection criteria. Ethical standards are not considered in the selection.

  • The competition is announced late and the dissemination of the vacancy notice has not been ascertained to reach a wide audience.

  • The selection process is compromised (management appoints members of the selection committee who can be easily influenced; selection committee members do not declare CoI; interviews with prospective candidates fail to test professionalism; candidates are asked different questions; qualifications of job applicants are not properly verified; preferential treatment and leakage of information of internal applicants).

  • Favouritism, political loyalties and nepotism influence internal promotion and transfers. Rotation and staff transfers are misused as a reward (assigning to attractive positions) or punishment (dealing with political enemies).

  • Promotion is not sufficiently transparent.

  • The evaluation of performance is based on subjective criteria and ethical standards are not considered.

  • Management increases salaries despite poor performance.

  • Officials abuse the per diem regime.

  • Officials underperform (high level of absenteeism, slowing down work, or exaggerating time needed for tasks).

  • Managers abuse the sanctioning system (impose unjustified sanctions or close eyes to abusive behaviour).

  • Training opportunities are tied to favouritism and nepotism and are not transparent.

  • Training managers restrict access to study tours to particular functionaries, and/or send inappropriate people to study tours. There is no reporting after the study tour to share good practices across the local government.

  • There is a high level of absenteeism in trainings, and a low level of effort.

  • There is no training in the field of ethics provided.

  • Training managers do not conduct a training-needs analysis, leading to a mismatch between training delivered and training actually needed.

  • Training managers do not assess effectiveness of training leading to, biased selection of training service providers.


Following the risk assessment, the local government may consider the following risk management strategies as development points:

  • Address integrity in the local government’s human resources strategy/policy.

  • Adopt clear and comprehensive procedure/ rules regarding recruitment and appointment based on open competition and merit. Include sanctions for any breaches. Train all relevant employees (i.e. staff in the Personnel unit) in the policy and procedures to ensure they are aware of their accountabilities.

  • Make sure the competition is announced and widely advertised. Define minimum standards of transparency and monitor their implementation (the vacancy notice to include every requirement for the procedure: eligibility criteria, respective application deadlines, and any additional merits).

  • Include clear and transparent selection criteria to measure not only minimum competence levels, but also integrity and work ethics.

  • Accord reasonable time to candidates either to collect the required documents or to prepare for the examination.

  • Support entry-level exams to ensure merit-based recruitment.

  • Promote e-recruitment, as appropriate.

  • Set up clear rules on functioning of independent selection committees, with specific operational controls (Declarations on CoI, each member to take notes to provide audit trail). Consider including independent members from outside the local government (i.e. NGOs’ representatives) on the selection panel. Document why the applicant was chosen and why other applicants were not selected.

  • Verify qualifications of job applicants prior to appointment. Inform applicants and contractually ascertain that claiming false qualifications will lead to dismissal.

  • Effectively exclude potential internal applicants from any phase the recruitment process (i.e. acting as the contact person, preparing position descriptions or framing advertisements). Keep strictly confidential any relevant information prior to the interview.

  • Ensure candidates are entitled to challenge the commission’s decision within a reasonable length of time.

  • Ensure the local government adheres to clear and comprehensive rules regarding civil service HR practices (employment, staff performance, promotion, trainings and carrier development).

  • Provide clear and comprehensive job descriptions and guidelines for performing work in place for every position. Communicate these effectively to all staff.

  • Remove opportunities for certain officials to hold vulnerable positions for long periods of time (i.e. practice rotation, as appropriate).

  • In the existing reward system, provide adequate opportunities to attract and keep qualified staff. Consider additional incentives to motivate staff in high-risk positions.

  • Implement appropriate merit-based and transparent performance appraisal and carrier development system to re-enforce professionalism and foster high levels of integrity. Set up clear and comprehensive staff performance indicators to limit the managers’ discretion, including. ethical conduct indicators. Properly document the process to allow an adequate audit trail.

  • Conduct a thorough training needs assessment. Provide customized needs-based training (including public service ethics programmes). Ensure transparency of existing training opportunities, to secure equal access of eligible staff. Provide senior and mid management with a training in integrity management to resource the integrity management process. Provide appropriate professional training of personnel from the Personnel Department to enable them lead the HRDM process in the integrity areas.

  • Set up effective systems to regularly monitor staff attendance in training, especially if there are high levels of absenteeism. Evaluate the effectiveness of training, including evaluation of transfer to the job and organizational impact. Evaluate training providers based on results. Improve training processes based on results from evaluation.

  • Provide adequate training and awareness in integrity matters to all local government officials (inception and repeated, online training). Address anticorruption awareness and training for business associates who conduct activities or provide services on behalf of local government and could pose an integrity risk to the organization.