The COVID-19 Anti-Corruption Response and Recovery Project

The project seeks to support States parties’ in their response to, and recovery from, COVID-19 and future emerging crises by strengthening transparency and integrity in public procurement, and whistle-blower protection and oversight mechanisms, in South Africa, South America and South East Asia. UNODC has established strong working relationships with the countries proposed and all have requested specific technical assistance or indicated that there is an interest in working on public procurement linked to COVID-19 and whistleblower protection. 

Vast resources have been allocated in the form of economic response and recovery packages to mitigate the debilitating effects of COVID-19 and to shield people and businesses that are most vulnerable. Without adequate safeguards, the disbursement of such resources entails significant corruption risks which may reduce both the beneficial impact on individuals and the quality of services or supplies provided. Efforts to respond to this crisis and future emergency contexts must be protected by harnessing and strengthening existing anti-corruption knowledge, frameworks and infrastructure. Cases of COVID-19 continue to rise and resources are needed to respond to increasing demand related to public procurement and oversight mechanisms to help ensure that countries respond effectively, for this crisis and the next. 

UNCAC provides a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary framework to prevent and combat corruption in public procurement through the establishment of transparent processes defined by competition and open decision-making, whistle-blower protection systems and oversight mechanisms to help ensure accountability. 

Objectives and Outcomes

Overall Objective 

The overall objective of this projectis to support South Africa and targeted countries in South America and South East Asia in their efforts to respond to and recover from COVID-19 and future crises by establishing, or strengthening, national-level anti-corruption procurement platforms comprised, at a minimum, of national public procurement oversight bodies, supreme audit institutions and anti-corruption authorities. While all of the countries identified are participating members in the Southern Africa, South America or South East Asia regional platform, the national procurement platforms proposed here would create a network or task force at the national level focused solely on public procurement and whistleblower protection. These platforms would act as coordinating hubs to implement activities designed to integrate anti-corruption knowledge, frameworks and infrastructure throughout public procurement processes, including whistleblower protection. Such platforms would help to reduce the duplication of work among public organizations, enable the identification of emerging synergies and strengthen long-term collaboration, not only for COVID-19 but for a better future. 

Specific Objectives

UNODC aims to support the development of national-level anti-corruption procurement platforms in three regions comprising nine suggested countries: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, and Paraguay in South America; South Africa; and Indonesia, the Philippines, and Timor-Leste in South East Asia. These platforms will comprise the national public procurement oversight bodies, supreme audit institutions and anti-corruption authorities and serve as coordinating hubs to implement the activities outlined below and create sustainable capacity to address emerging corruption risks in procurement. 

While every country has different legal frameworks and different institutional capacity, coordination efforts remain lacking. For example, an anti-corruption body may be investigating claims of procurement fraud while a supreme audit institution has found discrepancies in a public procurement body’s records at the same time that whistleblower reports from employees within that body have been lodged with ombudsmen offices. A national-level platform would bring these actors together to share information, enabling more efficient and effective interventions, and creating a long-term network for all emerging issues. 

Outcome 1: South Africa and Countries in South America and South East Asia develop national-level anti-corruption procurement platforms that serve as coordinating hubs to address ongoing and emerging corruption issues in public procurement. 

Output 1.1: Structures and action plans designed and strengthened to address corruption risks in public procurement, including with respect to ongoing and future emerging crises.

Output 1.2: Public procurement systems are transparent, competitive and operate with integrity and are linked to effective whistleblower protection systems that enable individuals to report to multiple entities, institutions and/or organizations.

Output 1.3: Enhanced cooperation between supreme audit institutions, anti-corruption authorities, public procurement bodies and other oversight bodies, and the increased use of such bodies to inform and guide emergency response and recovery plans.