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Monday, February 9, 2015

Mexican Actions to Prevent Corruption and Conflicts of Interest

Presidency of the Republic

During his announcement of a set of executive actions to prevent corruption and conflicts of interest on February 3, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto appointed Virgilio Andrade Martínez as Civil Service Secretary.

 

The president announced that he has instructed the new head of the Secretariat of Civil Service (SFP) to “reinforce the processes of control and auditing of the government, and ensure that public servants adhere to the law and ethics.”


The executive actions to prevent corruption and avoid conflicts of interest announced by President Peña Nieto include the following:

 

FIRST: “As of May of this year, when all public servants are legally obliged to declare their assets, federal public servants will be obliged to submit a declaration of potential conflicts of interest. This statement must be presented when they are appointed to a federal public post, and updated annually or whenever a government official believes he or she may be subject to a possible conflict of interest. It will also help to determine whether there may be undue influence in public servants’ decisions that may be preventing him or her from fulfilling the obligations of their duties objectively and impartially.

 

“The declaration will include, inter alia, the official’s professional activities in companies, the existence of debts or property owned by his or her spouse or dependents, as well as the reasons why the public servant considers there might be a conflict of interest in relation to the decisions for which he or she is responsible. This declaration of potential conflicts of interest takes up international best practices and its design enjoys the support of experts from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).”

 

SECOND: “Within the Secretariat of Public Service, a Specialized Unit in Ethics and Prevention of Conflicts of Interest will be created. This area will be responsible for determining the existence of conflicts of interest, establishing preventive measures, and where appropriate ensuring that appropriate sanctions are applied. The Unit will also coordinate the activities of the Committees of Ethics and Prevention of Conflicts of Interest of each agency or sector of Federal Public Administration.”

 

THIRD: “Integrity rules for the exercise of the federal civil service will be issued, which will broaden and deepen existing codes of ethics and are consistent with the new challenges we face in the fight against corruption. It is essential to shift from a mere declaration of principles to a new formal protocol that will regulate the behavior of public servants, especially those responsible for public procurement.”

 

FOURTH: “Contact protocols will be established between individuals and officials responsible for deciding on public procurement procedures, licenses, concessions and permits. The SFP will define clear, specific guidelines to be followed by public servants in dealing with stakeholders.”

 

FIFTH: “To complement the previous measure, all Federal Public Administration agencies and entities will have until April to identify and classify the level of accountability of public servants involved in these procedures. The SFP must draw up a list of these officers and subject them to certification in order to ensure their honesty and adequate performance.”

 

SIXTH: “The operation of the National Single Window for government procedures and services will be expedited. The decree that will enable federal proceedings to be incorporated in digital formats will be published on the internet portal www.gob.mx. The Single Window must gradually include the Federal Public Administration procedures most frequently requested by the population, provided the nature of the procedure allows. This will reduce potential scope for corruption by eliminating interaction between federal officials and individuals.”

 

SEVENTH: “The public list of suppliers sanctioned by the government will be more complete and detailed since it will indicate the cause of their sanction.”

 

EIGHTH: “Collaborative arrangements with the private sector will be expanded in terms of transparency and fighting corruption. Citizens’ active participation is essential to identifying processes and procedures vulnerable to conflicts of interest or corruption. We will work with business chambers and civil society organizations in order to sign cooperation agreements and jointly prevent illegal acts.”

 

Reaffirming his full commitment to transparency and accountability, President Peña Nieto has asked, “The SFP to investigate and determine whether there was a conflict of interest in the public works or contracts awarded by federal agencies to the firms that sold property to my wife, the Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit, and me.”

 

He declared emphatically: “The president does not grant contracts or determine purchases or works; nor does he participate in any committee for purchases, leases or services.”

 

The president also announced that in order to create full confidence and transparency, he has also asked the Civil Service Secretary, “to form a panel of renowned experts in transparency to find out about and evaluate the results of the investigation to be undertaken.”

 

He added that for the proper implementation of executive actions, “The government has also requested the advice and support of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which groups together the 34 most developed countries in the world and is therefore at the forefront of best practices for good governance.” He added that the Secretariats of Foreign Affairs and Civil Service will soon sign a technical cooperation agreement with this international organization.

 

He thanked the OECD, “For its invaluable support in consolidating the institutional architecture we are building today to achieve integrity in public service and fight corruption.”

 

The president hoped that, “During the Second Ordinary Period of Sessions that has just begun, Federal Legislators will approve the National Anti-Corruption System.” Building the country we want, he continued, “Requires permanent action in favor of openness, transparency and efficiency. That is what the participatory, proactive society Mexico fortunately has today wants.”

 

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Presidency of the Republic, Mexico, DF, Feb. 3, 2015; translation by Presidency of the Republic

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