The new revision of the Italian Code of Public Contracts doesn’t include the expected formal reference to ISO 37001. But is it really negative?

anti_corruption-664x272The “rumours” have been confirmed!

Unless improbable steps back happen, the Council of Ministers of April 13 did not approve the introduction of paragraph 2bis of Art. 38, paragraph 4, letter b, of the Code of Public Contracts, which would reward ISO 37001:2016 as a requirement for contracting authorities qualification (in Italy, the public contracting authorities need to be qualified by ANAC, the Italian Anti-Corruption National Agency).

I already imagine the reactions …

From the side of “defeated”, the “conspiracy theorists” will denounce that someone wanted to miss a good opportunity to introduce standardised rules in the management of the prevention of corruption and how someone wanted to avoid that certification bodies can “snoop” into procedures of public contracting.

On the other side, the “winners”, the usual “certification skeptics”, are very happy because they believe that the ISO 37001 is only an opportunity to produce unnecessary paper and represents only a business for those who offer consulting, training and certification in the field.

But can we really continue to think so???

The problem is that everyone, as usual, focuses on the exterior appearance of the ISO 37001 (certification) and not on its substance (prevention).

We in the GIACC think as follows.

To the “defeated”, we say to focus on the text of Article. 38 concerning the prevention of corruption risks:

1) (regarding the qualification requirements of contracting authorities)… the positive evaluation of ANAC on the implementation of measures able to prevent the risks of corruption and to promote the the culture of law. 

This specific requirement, differently by criterion of quality and sustainability also established by the Code of Public Contracts, for the contracting authorities qualification, is properly part of the operational mission and professional skills of ANAC.

We would be surprised if the ANAC allows the evaluation of that requirement by a third entity ………

But we are confident that the adoption of ISO 37001 by the contracting authorities, not only will not be ignored by ANAC in carrying their own duties, but ANAC will consider positively the implementation of a standard (in the specific sense of the word) as ISO 37001, that is internationally shared, as a good way to obtain the qualification requirement about the prevention of corruption by public contracting authorities.

Simply, ANAC doesn’t want that ISO 37001 gives authomatic presumption of conformity, because this could “weaken” the role of ANAC. Let the same ANAC judges whether the implemented Anti-Corruption Management System (and not just on paper) by the contracting authorities according to the requirements of ISO 37001, is “really” and “effectively” implemented.

The requirements are written clearly: ANAC has the duty to evaluate them but without being “forced” to recognise “in toto” the validity of a “piece of paper” that, we know, sometimes it is released too much “easily”...

To the “winners” we say to focus on “substance”. The ISO 37001 is an internationally shared standard that leads to achieve a corruption prevention model also for the public contracting authorities (and we know how much they would need it in certain areas): a really effective prevention model and above all, integrated with the other management systems already adopted formally and also referred in art. 38 of Code of Public Contracts, such as ISO 9001.

And this may be a stimulus to avoid thinking about the fact that the adoption of an Anti-Corruption Management System is a further dead weight on their organisational efficiency but rather a completion of efforts and investments already implemented and a way to increase the ability to protect its stakeholders.

Stop fighting a good idea just because somebody thinks only to obtain “awards”, “stars” and “pieces of paper”.

There are so many organisations and many public contracting authorities which seriously intend to protect themselves, protect their stakeholders and invest also in prevention models of corruption and ISO 37001 will be an opportunity for them.

And the fact that it constitutes a business, it is not wrong: anti-corruption, as all other areas of risk management, is already a business.

In what is it different the ISO 37001? The same people that are against it because there are already laws and international conventions are also consultants paid by the organisations and public contracting authorities.

To my knowledge, volunteers or missionaries don’t operate for the contracting authorities…

I conclude this post, calling once again to focus on what is really important:“to prevent corruption with Facts” (with a capital F) and not rushing to hoard certificates or awards, or viceversa doing unconstructive criticism.

Let the organisations and contracting authorities choose the way to follow how to “do the Facts”. Let them choose, if they wish, the implementation of ISO 37001.

And let the ANAC does his job by checking and evaluation.

Let everyone plays its full role, in order to obtain a common goal: the progressive reduction of corruption, in favour of competitivity.

It’s only the “matter of culture”…