14 June 2016, Vilnius
The Chief Official Ethics Commission of Lithuania (COEC) welcomed an expert from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on a fact-finding mission to the country in the context of Lithuania’s ongoing accession process to the OECD. On this occasion, COEC is acting as a coordinating body in the field of public sector integrity arranging meetings with other state institutions operating within the field and engaging them in the information sharing process.
Right to left: OECD representative N.N.Flecha, Office of Government representative J.Vasiliauskaite, COEC Chairman R.Valentukevicius
“This fact-finding mission marks an important milestone in Lithuania’s accession process. The goal is to collect information on the “state of play” in the field of public sector integrity so as to report back to the OECD’s Public Governance Committee. Upon deliberation, this Committee is expected to issue a formal opinion to the OECD Council on the extent to which existing integrity policies are consistent with OECD policies and practices and on the willingness and ability of Lithuania to implement OECD legal instruments including the Recommendation on Managing Conflict of Interest, the Recommendation on Public Procurement, and the Principles for Transparency and Integrity in Lobbying, among others”, Natalia Nolan Flecha, a Public Sector Integrity Policy Analyst for the OECD, stated upon meeting the Chairman and other representatives of COEC.
The first meeting was devoted to answering OECD expert‘s questions concerning promotion of transparency in the public sector, adjustment of public and private interests, filing of declarations of private interests, prevention of conflicts of interest and lobbying provisions as well as presenting the activities undertaken by COEC. Monday‘s meeting was also joined by the representatives of Office of Government and Parliamentary Commission of Anti-Corruption.
COEC is a collegial budgetary authority, set up by the Parliament of Lithuania, which exercises supervision of persons employed in the civil service (approximately 160 000) and persons carrying out lobbying activities as well as the prevention of their corruption. COEC seeks to model transparency in the public sector thus promoting efficient representation of public interests. To this end, COEC applies the respective measures: training, risk assessment, legislative initiatives and creation of various management frameworks.
Right to left: COEC adviser T.Markauskiene, OECD representative N.N.Flecha, Office of Government representative J.Vasiliauskaite
Last year‘s data indicates a trend towards a growing number of activities in the sphere of prevention and decreasing amounts of investigations. Of all the notifications regarding alleged violations, 36% were certified as violations. Local politicians make up only one percent of the total number of persons under the supervision of COEC, however, they are in the lead by the amount of investigations carried out regarding the conformity of their actions with the requirements of legal acts (nearly 44% of all COEC investigations).
Due to efficient prevention initiatives, 100% of local politicians filed their declarations of private interests following municipal elections last year, whereas two years ago only 40% of them were known to have completed their declarations. It was also stressed by COEC representatives that the general number of declarations of private interests has increased over the last year by 10%, whereas the number of declarations made public has increased by 57%.
One of the most important focus areas of COEC at the moment includes the supervision of disclosure of private interests by the medical personnel in public healthcare institutions. It is estimated that this group that is obliged by law to file declarations of private interests is tenfold bigger than that of politicians.
In order to improve regulation, amendments of the Law on Lobbying Activities were presented to the Parliament of Lithuania and the law is now under its way to being adopted. New proposals for the regulations of lobbying activities include a clearer definition of a lobbyist and thus more transparency on who is lobbying who and for what cause, continuous, up-to-date declarations, a user-friendly register of lobbyists as well as free registration for NGOs.
Daily meetings with the OECD experts will be held at the headquarters of COEC and continue until the end of this week. Other Lithuanian institutions to take part include Central Electoral Commission, Transparency International Lithuania, National Association of Anticorruption, Commission of Ethics and Procedures of the Seimas, National Audit Office, Special Investigation Service, The Prosecutor’s Office, Ministry of Finance, etc.