The Integrity Pact in Alcobaça Monastery

 

In December 2018, was signed the first Integrity Pact that take place in Portugal. The agreement was made between Transparência e Integridade – the Portuguese chapter of Transparency International -, as a supervisory entity, and the Directorate-General for Cultural Heritage, as contracting entity. The focus of this integrity pact are two works of conservation and restoration that will be realized in the Monastery of Alcobaça, an UNESCO world heritage site since 1989.

Founded in 1153 by the first King of Portugal, D. Afonso I, the Monastery of Santa Maria de Alcobaça – the last foundation of the Order of Cister during the life of St. Bernard of Clairvaux – was built between the 12th and 14th centuries and underwent significant architectural extensions in the following centuries (of which remain the old Abbey Palace and Inn, the Cardinal’s Cloister and the Rachadouro Cloister, the New Sacristy, the Reliquary Chapel and the Desterro Chapel), especially since the formation of the Autonomous Congregation of Portugal (1567), when Alcobaça becomes the head of the Portuguese Cistercian monasteries.

Member of the European Charter of Cistercian Abbeys and Sites (Cultural Route of the Council of Europe), the Alcobaça Monastery is one of the five Cistercian monuments inscribed on the World Heritage List, constituting one of the largest and best preserved architectural ensembles bequeathed by the Order of Cistercians. Its extraordinary church, whose plant replicates that of the disappeared Church of the Abbey of Claraval – its mother house -, was the third largest to be built by the Order and is today the second largest. Visiting it is an incomparable aesthetic experience as it is one of the most beautiful and magnificent creations of Cistercian architecture in Europe.

Source: Guia Rede do Património Mundial de Portugal. Comissão Nacional da UNESCO, 2019.

What is an Integrity Pact?

 

Each year, governments spend huge sums of money on public procurement – funding roads, bridges, schools, housing, water and power supply, other community improvements… But with these vast expenditures, opportunities for corruption are rife.

Integrity Pacts were developed as a tool for preventing corruption in public contracting. An Integrity Pact is both a signed document and approach to public contracting which commits a contracting authority and bidders to comply with best practice and maximum transparency. A third actor, usually a civil society organisation (often one of our chapters), monitors the process and commitments made. Monitors commit to maximum transparency and all monitoring reports and results are made available to the public on an ongoing basis.

Integrity Pacts have been around since the 1990s, and have been applied in more than 15 countries and 300 separate situations. They help save taxpayer money, ensure that infrastructure projects and other public works are delivered efficiently, and close off avenues for illicit gain. An update to the Integrity Pact concept in 2016 has seen it draw on major advances in the areas of technology and civic participation.

The Integrity Pact is co-created by TI national chapters, or other civil society partners, and government officials responsible for a particular procurement process. Its clauses are drawn from both international open contracting principles as well as the local legal and social context. In this way the tool is constantly evolving based on lessons learned and best practice around the world as well as up-to-date analysis regarding the country and sector’s corruption risk profile. In this way, the Integrity Pact avoids being a one-size fits all approach but rather a living tool that adapts to local opportunities and challenges.

INTEGRITY PACTS – CIVIL CONTROL MECHANISM FOR SAFEGUARDING EU FUNDS

In March 2015, Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu and Transparency International Deputy Managing Director Miklos Marschall launched the pilot project ‘Integrity Pacts – Civil Control Mechanism for Safeguarding EU Funds’.

It aims to explore and promote the use of Integrity Pacts (IP) for safeguarding EU funds against fraud and corruption, and as a tool to increase transparency and accountability, enhance trust in authorities and government contracting, contribute to a good reputation of contracting authorities, bring cost savings and improve competition through better procurement. The second phase of this joint project began on 1 January 2016 and will run for four years. Through this project the Commission will support piloting of IPs in projects co-financed by EU Structural and Cohesion Funds in EU Member States. The experience from piloting Integrity Pacts will be shared and disseminated at the EU level.

Transparency

It makes the public procurement process more open and accessible, from the evaluation of needs to the tendering and execution of the contract.

Monitoring

It provides a continuous observation activity of the whole process, both from the part of the organization of the civil society and of the citizens.

Participation

It promotes the involvement of citizens and stakeholders in the different phases of the hiring process, thus actively contributing to good public spending.

 

Simple and flexible

It is a simple, flexible and adaptable instrument that allows the implementation of good contracting standards without the need for legal reforms and can be applied to a wide variety of public contracts.

Promotes trust in public institutions

It enables governments and institutions to capture and mobilize public support for their projects and avoid high reputational costs related to corruption occurrences or perceptions on sensitive projects.

At the same time, it fosters confidence in public decision-making beyond individual impact on the contract in question, thus creating a more hospitable climate for investment.

Ensures project quality and reduces costs

With the Integrity Pacts, governments and institutions reduce the high costs and distortive effects created by corruption and fraud and encourage openness, competition and the quality of competitors to supply goods and services to the State.

Helps to meet expectations

Actions to prevent fraud and corruption at national level are now demanded by citizens and the European Union. For example, EU cohesion policy lays down specific regulatory responsibilities for national authorities responsible for managing European funds, requiring that fraud prevention measures be put in place to identify and prevent corruption in areas at risk.

Demonstrates leadership

The contracting authorities have an opportunity to demonstrate that they are innovative and lead by example. The Integrity Pacts empower public officials determined to combat corruption and ensure the quality of their work on complex projects, while enabling civil society to contribute to the transparency and integrity of public procurement processes.

Ensures improvement of contracting procedures in future projects

The Integrity Pacts often identify systemic anomalies that, if corrected, result in a considerable improvement in future hiring procedures and encourage major institutional changes.