Improving public sector integrity and culture is one of the key Goals for the Public Administration Sector Plan 2014-2018. It is in this connection that a partnership materialized between the Public Administration Sector through the Public Service Commission, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the United Nations Development Program, and the United Nations – Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption Project. The agencies came together to facilitate a workshop on integrity for senior Government officials. The workshop was held at Hotel Millenia for 2 days and was facilitated by advisors under the UNPRAC project, John Hyde and Luisa Senibulu.
The participants included representatives from across the public sector. Presenters at the workshop included the Attorney General, Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff, the Ombudsman, Maiava Iulai Toma, the President of SUNGO, Mrs. Roina Vavatau, the Editor for the Samoa Observer, Mataafa Keni Lesa, and the Manager for the Legal Division at the Central Bank of Samoa, Mr. Gafatasi Patu.
The Public Service Commission is tasked with the review and consolidation of integrity standards to be applied across the public sector under the PASP.
The aim is to strengthen this key principle to improve decision making and behavior in Government. The workshop looked at providing guidance on the implementation of this activity, as well as confirming priority areas the Government could reform to achieve an ethical public service.
While there was a strong consensus for Samoa to sign on to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), the participants agreed that the level of public awareness for existing laws that deal with integrity issues needed to be improved first and foremost. This was an inexpensive preventative measure the participants thought could benefit the Government.
The participants also thought that the community and private sector could play a bigger role in holding Government accountable. This was echoed by some of the presenters who noted that the absence or lack of integrity will diminish the trust and confidence the people have in their Government. The presenters called on the public to play their part in reporting the inactions of Government authorities, particularly where the expectations of the citizens are not met.
The Public Administration Sector will be working closely with the two UN agencies to take this forward in a holistic way, alongside the non-Government stakeholders.