Conflicts of interest

Promoting transparency to safeguard ethical procurement and reinforce risk management.

Handling conflicts of interest is difficult. Some relationships can be identified easily; others can be almost untraceable. Family connections, ‘revolving doors’ or cultural and religious ties abound, and almost anything can become a point of connection and favour.

It is therefore vital that robust declarations of interest are built into processes, ideally at pre-employment screening and at the onset of any procurement, recruitment or grant/donor exercises, and repeated annually. Nil declarations should be recorded and checked for accuracy and honesty, at a proportionate level based on risk assessment.

Insufficient management of conflicts of interest is a wide-open door for corruption. The more transparent relationships and connections are, the easier it is to ensure ethical procurement and recruitment. This will also protect reputations, with evidence that conflicts have been addressed appropriately where they arise.

Examples and further resources

Addressing vulnerability in procurement

The UK NHS Counter Fraud Authority has produced a series of eight fraud prevention quick guides focusing on specific areas of fraud and corruption risk vulnerability in finance and procurement. The purpose of the guides is to reduce vulnerability to procurement fraud and corruption by helping organisations to embed control measures and implement preventative action. 

Open source collaboration

ProZorro is a public procurement platform based in Ukraine that has developed a unique model of a robust collaboration and trust for business, government and civil society. This model can be adopted as an efficient open procurement system that emphasises collaboration where all participants win. It is based on three key principles:

  1. A hybrid open source system where all transactions take place in the central public database and any number of certified private marketplaces can work with the end users.

  2. Transparency: all tender announcements are available online without any restrictions immediately after being published. Following the completion of a tender procedure all data is disclosed online.

  3. A golden triangle partnership founded on a unique form of collaboration between businesses, the state and civil society, with each actor performing a unique set of functions.

Annually, about UAH 600bn (approximately €20bn) of goods and services are transacted with the help of tenders. ProZorro is estimated to contribute around 10% of overall public spending savings due to increased competition and better transparency.