Integrity is everyone’s business, but what does integrity actually mean? Part II

Andrii Koshman

In the first part of this post I described my impressions about Matra Rule of Law Training Programme on “Integrity of Civil Servants” and provided a basic review of integrity concept through its historical evolution. Now I’d like to continue sharing the acquired knowledge by outlining Dutch actions in building integrity.

Firstly, the Netherlands is one of the front-runners when it comes to public integrity institutionalization. In order to succeed Dutch integrity policy involves a wide range of initiatives and instruments, which will ideally be a combination of ‘software’ (ethical culture, good employment practice, public trust), ‘hardware’ (rules, procedures, standards), and an ‘operating system’ (organization and coordination of integrity policies).

Secondly, integrity is widely considered as a part of good governance and a cross-cutting issue for each sector and department of literally every state agency. What does in mean in practice? The governmental bodies are expected to live by integrity rules, which implies not only setting up codes of conduct, but also paying considerable attention to recruitment and election processes, conducting surveys for identification of vulnerable positions, providing trainings on how to avoid conflict of interests, taking adequate measures to protect confidential information, making risk analysis of potential threats, monitoring and evaluation of the integrity policies’ effectiveness.

Thirdly, Dutch integrity approach greatly emphasizes the ethical aspects of public officials’ behavior. Thus, civil servants should act according to the following core values:

  • Integrity – putting the obligations of public service above your own personal interests;
  • Honesty – being truthful and open;
  • Objectivity – basing decisions on rigorous analysis of the evidence; 
  • Impartiality – acting solely according to the merits of the case and serving equally well to governments of different political persuasions.

Allowing you to sort out and digest this theoretical information, I want to showcase how above-mentioned integrity policy is implemented on the example of one state agency that I had visited during my training.

First, it has established the code of conduct and introduced the oath of civil servant, which are the foundations of the agency’s integrity policy.

Once the groundwork was laid, the agency went an extra mile to promote the idea and developed a special mobile app, which is preinstalled on the smartphones of the new employees. The app contains questions (in the form of quiz) about the agency’s rules and values. Looks very similar to the approach widely used by international companies, don’t you agree?

In addition, every employee is subscribed on intranet portal for newsletters with the relevant information about last regulatory developments, useful links, brochures on “how to avoid conflict of interests”, etc.

Agency’s officials, dedicated integrity coordinator and confidential integrity counselors create positive integrity environment inside the organization and eagerly explain issues of integrity during verbal communication.

Lastly, the agency proactively upholds integrity via such modern interactive tools as workshops, trainings, annual «weeks of integrity», movies, risk analysis sessions and dilemma games.

In my opinion, the last tool is especially effective, because while considering and choosing your personal course of action based on a real life situation with potential violation of integrity, employee discuss how they apply knowledge of integrity in order to find the best solution for their own dilemmas.

To wrap up, I would like to challenge you with the integrity dilemma game.

Imagine there is an open position at one of the departments in the state agency you work with. Your nephew is looking for the job, meets all requirements and applies for the position. However, you know that he often reports sick and that his work attitude tends to be careless.

What would you do? 


Andrii Koshman is a chief consultant of the committee in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. He is an expert in drafting amendments and supplements to the laws in the area of judiciary and status of judges, civil, administrative and commercial law. Previously he worked for almost four years in the Ukrainian court. He also completed different training programs in USA and EU countries.