Integrity Pledge (IP), a micro level social accountability process introduced by Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) to promote participatory and accountable governance at the level of service delivery by a voluntary engagement of stakeholders. As a legally non-binding social contract, the IP contributes to accountability and transparency in a process that involves a series of collective efforts which eventually lead to a public commitment by all stakeholders to promote governance quality and reduce corruption. Introduced by TIB in eighteen local level institutions of public service delivery till date, the IP has built-in process of application, and monitoring. The paper also highlights expected results of the instrument and challenges in its enforcement.
It is in this context, and against the backdrop of widespread corruption at the service delivery level as mentioned above, that Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has introduced the Integrity Pledge (IP). It is an innovation that involves voluntary engagement of the local level public representatives, officials and service providers with the service recipients and other citizens to promote transparency and accountability at the delivery of services in vital sectors such as education, health and local government.
As a legally non-binding social contract, the IP contributes to accountability and transparency in a process that involves such non-conventional tools as Citizens Report Card, Advice & Information, Open Budget, Face the Public, which eventually lead to an Integrity Pledge. Introduced by TIB in 18 local level institutions of public service delivery, the IP has built-in process of application and monitoring.
It should be added that the “Integrity Pact”, the generic version of the Integrity Pledge has been working in different variations with varying degrees of success in many other countries around the world since it was introduced by Transparency International to promote accountability primarily in public procurement. TIB is the first to introduce it in selected institutions of public service delivery engaging various stakeholders at the service delivery end. At the heart of IP is the concept of public accountability through voice, demand and participation of stakeholders.The IP, as introduced by TIB is a social accountability tool that involves a written but voluntary commitment signed by stakeholders – public representatives, officials and other service providers, informal groups of people as service recipients and citizens’ committees - where all parties make a pledge to work together and help each other to:
- Prevent and control abuse of power for private gain;
- Eliminate all forms of unauthorized payments, including bribery for services rendered;
- Ensure and promote participation of service recipients in decisions that affect the content and quality of services provided;
- Ensure transparency in public contracts and in implementing work under such contracts; and
- Promote disclosure and transparency to ensure accountability in all related actions.
The IP is built on the premise that ensuring people’s participation in planning, design, budgeting, implementation and monitoring process of service delivery can significantly improve integrity, transparency and accountability, and thereby reduce corruption. It is a micro-level social accountability tool for partnership between all stakeholders, especially service providers and service recipients from the perspective of the latter as a stakeholder rather than only beneficiary. It involves empowerment of people through raising voice, asking questions and raising demand - all leading to accountability in a participatory process. It is also a process that mobilizes the community to participate in monitoring the quality of delivery of public services.