Professional ethics: countering corruption

Guiding light

14 December 2018

Co-founders of the Global Infrastructure Anti-Corruption Centre Catherine and Neill Stansbury outline the tools and guidance it offers

Corruption in the construction sector was previously tolerated as necessary or unavoidable, but is now regarded as unacceptable. This change in attitude has resulted in calls both at national and international level for effective action to be taken to prevent it. As a result, a policy of zero tolerance for corruption is increasingly being adopted by companies, governments, project owners and funders. The concern for these stakeholders is no longer whether they should seek to eliminate corruption in their organisations, projects or business dealings, but how to do so. Consequently, there is a need for practical anti-corruption tools and guidance.

Promotion of prevention

The Global Infrastructure Anti-Corruption Centre (GIACC) was founded in May 2008 in order to help meet this need. It is an independent, not-for-profit organisation based in the UK but operating internationally, which works in close collaboration with all types of stakeholder, in particular with construction professionals. GIACC has anti-corruption alliances with the World Federation of Engineering Organizations, the World Council of Civil Engineers, and 3 regional and 17 national professional engineering associations, and has affiliates in Germany, Italy, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

GIACC’s objective is to promote the implementation of anti-corruption measures as an integral part of government, corporate and project management. GIACC’s policy is to promote change. It does not cast blame on any particular stakeholders for the existence of corruption, neither does it investigate or report on allegations of corruption.

GIACC played a leading role in the development of the standard ISO 37001: 2016 Anti-bribery Management Systems, and its predecessor BS 10500: 2011 Anti-bribery Management System. ISO 37001 specifies the implementation by an organisation of reasonable and proportionate policies, procedures and controls that are designed to prevent bribery taking place by, on behalf of, or against the organisation, and to detect and deal appropriately with any bribery that does take place. It takes account of internationally recognised good anti-bribery practice, and is applicable to small, medium and large organisations in the public and private sectors. It is capable of 3rd-party certification in the same way as other management standards such as ISO 9001 quality management.

The GIACC Resource Centre provides free access to information, guidance and tools to help stakeholders understand and prevent corruption. It offers:

Project standards

One of the anti-corruption tools developed by GIACC is PACS, which is designed to be implemented on major construction projects. There are 12 PACS standards, each of which deals with a separate anti-corruption measure. A government or project owner can benchmark its project management practices against PACS, and improve its practices as necessary.

The standards are as follows.

  • PS 1: Independent assessment: an independent assessor should be appointed whose duty is, for the duration of the project, to monitor and assess the project for corruption and make appropriate reports.
  • PS 2: Transparency: the project owner should disclose project information to the public on a website.
  • PS 3: Procurement: the project owner should implement fair and transparent procurement procedures, which do not provide an improper benefit or advantage to any individual or organisation.
  • PS 4: Pre-contract disclosure: at tender stage, the project owner and each tenderer for a major contract should provide each other with relevant information, which could reveal a risk of corruption.
  • PS 5/6: Project anti-corruption commitments: the project owner, funders and each major project participant should provide anti-corruption contractual commitments.
  • PS 7: Government anti-corruption commitments: relevant government departments should take steps to prevent and deal with corruption in the issuing of permits, licences and approvals.
  • PS 8: Raising awareness: anti-corruption training should be provided to relevant project staff.
  • PS 9: Compliance: major project participants should appoint a compliance manager who will take all reasonable steps to ensure anti-corruption compliance by the company and its staff.
  • PS 10: Audit: financial and technical audits of the project should be carried out and published.
  • PS 11: Reporting: systems should be established by which corruption on the project can be reported by the public, project staff, and independent assessor.
  • PS 12: Enforcement: enforcement for breach of anti-corruption commitments should include civil enforcement (e.g. disqualification from tender, termination of contracts, damages and dismissal from employment) and criminal enforcement (e.g. fines and imprisonment).

Catherine and Neill Stansbury are co-founders and directors of the Global Infrastructure Anti-Corruption Centre (GIACC)

Further information