We are about to conclude the implementation of the first Integrity Pact in Portugal, a project developed in collaboration with the Directorate General of Cultural Heritage (DGPC) and that we trust will inaugurate the growth of participation and involvement of citizens and civil society organizations in public procurement processes.
Therefore, this week we showcase the first of five episodes documenting the IP project in our country, also accessible on the Integrity Pact website.
Civic monitoring of public spending and transparency regarding the decisions behind the works and acquisitions made by public managers increase levels of trust and prevent corruption and fraud.
Since 2016, the Integrity Pact has embodied this strategy of greater involvement and greater proximity between the contracting authority (DGPC), the companies responsible for the works at the Monastery of Alcobaça and the Alcobaça community, which now has information accessible at all times about the two interventions object of the IP in the national monument classified by UNESCO.
In an initiative unparalleled in our country, the TI Portugal Expert Committee – led by Prof. Miguel Lucas Pires, from the University of Aveiro – has been following the contracting procedures of the DGPC since the needs assessment stage until the conclusion of the works, producing monitoring reports and presenting improvement suggestions to prevent the risks of misuse of the European Union funds that supported the execution of the works.
“It has been a very fruitful work at all levels, because it stimulated the interaction between public stakeholders, the private sector and civil society, and strengthened the trust on the good use of money, but also because it greatly supported the association’s mission in this very critical area”, explains Karina Carvalho, Executive Director of TI Portugal.
“Today we have a greater knowledge about the reality of public procurement in Portugal and in Europe, the corruption risks associated with it, and the challenges faced by all entities and companies involved in this process. This is undoubtedly a precious resource to support the future monitoring of the Recovery and Resilience Plan, whose execution must be based on more transparent and more effective public contracting,” he continues.
When we are already receiving millions from Europe, through the Recovery and Resilience Plan, tools such as the Integrity Pact are essential, because huge public investments are planned, in strategic works for the future of the country and that should have already included Integrity Pacts or other similar tools, as stated in the National Anti-Corruption Strategy. Because, as we already know, without public scrutiny, fraud, corruption, and embezzlement become much easier.
But we cannot and should not be alone in this work. It is within the reach of each one of us to be more demanding about transparency and availability of information about the use of public funds. Everyone has the right to want to know whether local or national leaders are spending well what is, after all, the money of all of us.
What we ask of you is simple: keep up with these processes, be it with questions on social networks, by sending emails, by calling, in person, by attending information meetings… Ask questions, want to know, without being afraid to ask the hard questions. Because asking doesn’t offend.