Integrity Chamber Conducts Integrity Quick Scan of the Ministry of VSA
The Integrity Chamber submitted its Quick Scan of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Volksgezondheid, Sociale Ontwikkeling en Arbeid, hereafter:VSA).
The Quick Scan was conducted to strengthen the integrity infrastructure of the Ministry by determining the most significant bottlenecks, challenges, and areas for improvement. The integrity infrastructure consists of all integrity-related laws, policies, and procedures, including norms and values of the Ministry.
The Integrity Chamber interviewed several departments/executing agencies and their staff. Among the findings of the Quick Scan, it was identified that some of the regulatory framework of the Ministry is outdated and does not correspond with the objectives of the Ministry. The Ministry is lacking specific integrity regulations, such as a Code of Conduct, Confidential Advisors, and regulations concerning employee-client behaviour. The Quick Scan also revealed that the Ministry faces challenges in the area of human and material resources, such as insufficient funds and lack of employee training. There is no support system for employees struggling financially, socially, or mentally.
There are challenges with the organisational culture of the Ministry. Integrity within the Ministry is not regularly discussed and is often assumed based on the professional background of the employees. Challenges also include external stakeholders attempting to influence advices or decisions and public officials expecting certain privileges from the Ministry. This can lead to employees feeling pressured to provide preferential treatment.
Recommendations to curb the most prevalent integrity risks include, adjusting the legislative framework based on the tasks and objectives of the Ministry, implementing integrity-specific regulations, and establishing a system to provide training and support for employees. Further recommendations include regularly discussing expected behaviours with employees and ensuring that Ministry decisions are taken in an accountable and transparent manner.
The Integrity Chamber hopes that the report and the recommendations can be used to lessen the occurrence of integrity risks and promote and maintain integrity within the Ministry. The complete Quick Scan report can be found here.