Introduction Good evening and welcome at the Flemish government administration. My name is Kristien Verbraeken and I work for the Flemish government administration, here in this builing at the Public Governance Department and I am the Integrity Officer of the Flemish government administration since October 2010. In other organisations my function may be named compliance officer but compliance is narrower than integrity and our organisation has a very broad definition of integrity. Our definition of integrity covers the whole range from correct and proper interaction and relations with people (colleagues, citizens, suppliers and business partners…) to correct and proper use of means (not only means such as office supplies, company cars, funds but also business information, work time …) So integrity at the Flemish government administration covers a very wide field of different aspects of values and ethics. How did we arrive at such a broad concept of integrity and how is it reflected in our integrity policy? I will try to answers these questions by giving you an overview of the start of our policy, its development and the plans and challenges for the near future. Wat is integriteit (bij de Vlaamse overheid? (het ruime begrip schetsen) Wat is de Vlaamse overheid of wat is het toepassingsgebied van het integriteitsbeleid (aantal entiteiten, aantal personeelsleden (bijna 41.000 personeelsleden – hoeveel entiteiten?, afhankelijk van wat je als vertrekbasis neemt, onduidelijkheid over het precieze toepassingsgebeid) Genesis The start of our integrity policy was in part caused by a fraud scandal in Antwerp in 2003. A number of public officials such as council members had used/abused the credits cards which were meant for professional expenses, for a number of personal, sometimes very personal or rather excessive purchases. This caused quite a stir and led to several council members stepping down. The scandal also had a big impact on the public opinion and resulted in a change in political climate: governments had to be more transparent and account for what they spend the tax payers’ money on, governments have to earn the trust of the citizens. Transparency, accountability are key words in what became the policy of ‘good governance’ or ‘government governance’. In this changed political environment the Flemish government decided in 2005 to start working on an official integrity policy as one of the main pillars of good governance and to appoint an integrity officer to manage the process toward an integrated and co-ordinated integrity policy. This brings me to the 1st phase of the development of our organisations’ integrity policy: 20052010 The first five years were mainly dedicated to building structures and developping instruments to construct 3 pillars of the integrity policy: prevention, detection and reaction. In 2006 the first Integrity officer was appointed and IAVA, the internal auditing division was founded In the same year a new version of the code of conduct was introduced and the circular on high risk functions or as we call it ‘vulnerable functions’ and regulations for former employees who start working for private companies, and are therefore excluded from government procurement two years after leaving the public service. Between 2004 and 2006 The Flemish government was the first government in Belgium to have a whistleblower protection act, which still is named as a good practice on a European scale. To implement the whistleblower protection act the cabinet office and IAVA drew up protocols with the office of the ombudsperson. Following these major initiatives a number of instruments were developped by different colleagues who all contribute to the integrity policy (overzicht matrix) and correspond to one or several of the 3 pillars of our policy. e.g dilemma trainings, manual for the identification of ‘vulnarable functions’, guidelines for the implementation of an integrity policy for the seperate departments and divisions, the training of trusted intermediaries, a strategy for crisis communication in case of integrity calamities. As you can see from this matrix there are al lot of entities and colleagues involved with the building of the integrity policy and bringing it into practice. This resulted in not only a very broad work area – because of our broad definition of integrity – but also in a multitude of initiatives and instruments that were not geared to oneanother, there was no integration or co-ordination to speak of. In 2009 the Integrity officer changed jobs and there was almost a year of a stand still, in the midst of the making of a new code of conduct. This obviously led to some confusion on what course the code of conduct and the integrity policy would take. But looking back on this periode I believe that this period of stand still also opened the eyes of some entitities that integrity policy is something that has to be worked on. This became even more apparent because of the screening that IAVA did: IAVA screened all entities on their level of maturity and scored them on 11 criteria: one of which the level of maturity of their integrity policy and its implementation. This confronted many entities with the need to invest in their integrity policy. It was about this time I started working as Integrity Officer: October 2010. The first year I tried to make up for the year of stand still and gave priority to the new and third version of the code of conduct and making it known to our employees with a communications campaign. In the past the code of conduct had been implemented simply by the publication of a circular but no other communication efforts had been made to make it known to the employees. So it created quite a buzz when we launched the new code of conduct with posters in all the buildings of the Flemish government administration and started to flyer fake film tickets to draw attention the regulations on how to deal with gifts and invitations as a civil servant, as one of the regulations that are included in the new code of conduct. Together with the campaign the integrity website was completely renewed with many cases, tips and of course the instruments and links to the services of the partners. This campaign also triggered many entitities to start working on their integrity policy and made the integrity website one of the most visited sites of the Flemish government administration. Where do we stand today? The seconde phase 2010-2011: we are on a tipping point for the integrity policy to evolve from this multitude of structures, partners an instruments to a more coherent policy with more co-ordination and fine tuning between partners and their initiatives. Key element in this change is communication: to bring these partners together but also to inform entitites and employees about integrity policy and the services we offer communication plays a vital role. The 3rd version of the code of conduct has been drawn up together with representatives of the 13 departments of the Flemish government administration. This involvement of the 13 departments obviously contributed to the support it received from the different entities. This collaboration also led to having an integrity point of contact in almost all entities of the Flemish government administration. The new code of conduct is explicitedly based on the values of the Flemish government administration which are well known by the employees for these are the values they are also appraised/assessed upon as part of the yearly appraisal. This way integrity becomes a part of the appraisal criteria of all employees. Next to the introduction of a new code of conduct, the virtual Integrity office was founded in 2011. In this ‘virtual’ office all the partners of the Flemish government administration are brought together to work on a mutual integrity policy and where all the relevant domains (integrity, welfare and saftey at work, social services, IAVA , diversity and equal opportunities and training and support) are linked to achieve more integration and co-ordination. Why is called virtual? Because it is not an actual office but it is this collaboration of different experts and domains of expertise who join forces but who also stay active on their own domain of expertise. The road ahead The 3rd phase 2012-2014 has just started and focuses on the multidisciplinary approach of the integrity policy. Three elements are key in this multidisciplinary approach: the virtual office of integrity, the ‘unique’ centre of complaints and the integrity network group. The virtual office of integrity consists of three groups: a centre group that deals with cases that have both important integrity aspects and welfare and safety aspects. The second group consists of 6 members, representatives of the central partners of the Flemish government administration who from their own perspective and goals work on the integrity policy. This group will determine parameters to measure the results of the integrity policy and will make policy proposals to improve the policy. It will also give advice to entitities with regards to the implementation of the integrity policy and work on mutual initiatives e.g communication initiatives. The third group gathers representatives of colleagues who work on the implementation of the policy in the different departments e.g. the complaints managers, the trusted intermediaries, the integrity points of contact and colleagues who have a specific field of expertise that offers an important value to the integrity policy e.g the crisis manager, the reputation manager, the manager coach, representatievs of the legislation devision… This third group acts as a sounding board for the policy proposals of the sencond group and will be able to give important feedback on the practicality of the proposals to make them actually work in practice. The unique centre of complaints is an improvement of the current centre, named Spreekbuis. Employees can call a free number if they have questions about or complaints on welfare and safety and integrity at work. Today this service is available to approximately 15.000 eployees, who work in entities that are a member of the central division for welfare and safety. We want this service to be available to as many employees as possible to make it a true ‘unique’ meaning, uniform centre of complaints. With regards to integrity complaints the centre will also be expanded with a point of contact for citizens and private firms who have complaints about integrity at the Flemish government administration. This unique centre of complaints will gather the information, cases and data for the virtual integrity office to work with and will play a vital role in improving the whistleblower protection act. By using the unique complaits centre as thé channel to register complaints, we can give better protection to whistleblowers as the identity of the wistleblower is kept a secret. Today whistleblowers often voice their complaints in their own entity which makes them vulnerable to repercussions. The third element for the multidisciplinary approach is the integrity network group. The network group gathers all integrity contact persons of the entities of the Flemish government administration to share knowledge and information. They keep the integrity officer informed on what is important for their entity, what issues and topics they are dealing with, which is essential input for the overall policy. The Integrity officer can share first hand information about the policy and give advice on policy implementation via the network. The network will also organise one yearly event on integrity which keeps integrity on the agenda. Although we have only recently started working together on this multidisciplinary approach we have already discoverd that an extra pillar needs to be added to our policy, namely the aftercare or follow- up pillar. When there has been a serious breach of integrity, the entity involved really needs support to get back on the right track: all trust between employees, between employees and management is gone and employees are not motivated anymore to work for their organisation. With different experts the entity can be helped to rebuild its mutual trust, its activities and reputation. Other initiatives in 2012-2014 include the renewal of the ICT code of conduct, work group integrity risk analysis, integrity training for managers and benchmarking with other governments. Challenges On the other hand the multidisciplinary approach also confronts us with a number of issues and challenges: - Delineation of work field: integrity is so broad that almost everything has a link with integrity – workload has to be kept manageable - Clarity in scope (range of application): which entities have to comply with the integrity policy? Because of the organisational structure some entities are very autonomous and have power of self regulation also in personnel matters, such as integrity. This difference in scope does not beneficial for transparency and uniformity. - Range of application of the different integrity partners: the different partners have all different ranges of application which proves a challenge to ensure a uniform service to the entities - Professional secrecy versus obligation of discretion: some integrity partners are bound by professional secrecy while other partners are not, to share knowledge and information between partners we have to tread carefully not to make any professional errors while striving for an optimal service to the employees and organisation. - 4th pillar: aftercare still has to be completely built - Communication: is an important element for success of our policy and to show our stakeholders that our organisation values integrity very highly. But it is a constant balance exercise for one can never boast a perfect integrity policy because one can never rule out breaches. This brings me to the conclusion of my talk on our integrity policy: it is a neverending story. Why? Working on an integrity policy is a continuous process that evolves parallel with the evolution of the organisation and society. To keep pace with this evolution co-operation and communication are essential to gain support, involvement, awareness and to make it part of the identity and DNA of the organisations and its reputation. Integrity is not a nice to have policy theme but an absolute neccesity, not only for private companies but most certainly for governments who have to account for how they spend the tax payers’ money. It is a non stop task that has to make leaps in periods when it does not have to deal with serious integrity breaches to improve its policy and its implementation to try to make to risk of breaches a small as possible without ever forgetting that a complete risk free organisation cannot be achieved. Hence it is a neverending story. Thank you for listening to my story.