Compliance and integrity project

The introduction of criminal liability of legal persons in 2010 and the inclusion of public companies of a commercial nature in this regime in general character in 2015 is a major challenge. This new legal framework encourages these companies to have organizational and management models or compliance programs for the prevention of the commission of crimes and the consequences that, for the legal person, could be derived from them.

Institutions that generate trust can only be those that act in a manner that is coherent and consistent with the purposes and values ​​that justified their creation. From the conviction that this institutional integrity can not only be achieved with compliance measures, but also others must be adopted based on the values ​​of service and public ethics, in order to give priority to public interests over private ones in the public sector, the Anti-Fraud Office, together with the Autonomous University of Barcelona, ​​the University of Castilla-La Mancha and the University of Vigo, have signed a collaboration agreement to carry out a study to promote a culture of compliance and integrity in various types of public sector entities (public companies, public business entities, consortia) of the scope of action of the Anti-Fraud Office.

This study is carried out jointly with professors and researchers from these universities who are experts in this field as well as with the participation of technical staff from the Prevention Directorate of the Anti-Fraud Office. In addition, independent experts in this field from the Open University of Catalonia and the University of Modena (ITA) have joined, as the project includes a study of international comparative experiences.

The study, which began in February 2020, should be used to work up and develop standards of regulatory compliance and integrity applicable to the types of public bodies that are part of the study.

The compliance models in the public sector must be even more demanding than in the private sector and must go beyond the existence or non-existence of criminal liability. The adoption of a compliance program must serve to create a corporate culture of ethics and integrity, as well as, of course, compliance with the principles that apply to them as public sector bodies depending on the legal regime of each of them.

This project consists of several phases and requires the participation of some of these public entities. In an initial phase, it has been selected entities, according to territorial criteria, size and dependence of various public administrations, to which a questionnaire was addressed to detect risks and vulnerabilities. The 23 public entities that responded to the questionnaire, of more than 70 to which it was sent, participate in the study. The in-depth interview phase of these entities took place during the first months of 2021 and ended in September 2021.

Phases of the compliance and integrity project

At a later stage, it is planned that, after analyzing the information obtained, standards of regulatory compliance and integrity will be developed, referring to the type of entities participating in the study. The dissemination of the results of the study, complemented by training and awareness-raising sessions, must reach all potential public bodies.

This is a far-reaching and ambitious project linked to innovation and research in compliance and integrity. The goal is for all of us to be able to develop common guidelines that allow us to become benchmarks of good practice nationally and internationally.

Oficina Antifrau de Catalunya Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha Universidad de Vigo