Communication is critical to the success of Integrity Pacts. Bidders and the public need to understand what it is, why it is in place and how to use it. Proactively raising awareness of the intervention among the wider public increases its strength and value.
Monitors are typically responsible for communication. The effort spans the entire project, with major points including:
- The fact that the Integrity Pact is being adopted and what this means for the process;
- Relevant materials regarding the tender and bids;
- Monitoring reports;
- Information on concerns raised and how they were resolved;
- Lessons learned.
Early communication with parties and the public
For potential bidders, early awareness-raising is critical so that companies are aware of the commitments and can amend their internal compliance programmes if needed. Bidders also need to understand how to use the reporting channels.
Public communication is also essential. Effective public outreach can empower citizens, who may also submit concerns and thereby help to improve the process. In the longer term, this build trust between the public, contracting authorities and private sector.
Transparency International has recommended that monitors convene public hearings or town hall meetings and facilitate discussion with the community on project impacts. They also recommend a proactive media presence and civil society involvement.
Channels and considerations
Some monitors have set up a web page for all non-confidential information about a public procurement project. Examples include the Integrity Pacts web page of Transparency International Bulgaria and this monitoring website covering Integrity Pacts in Italy under the Safeguarding EU Funds project.
In some instances, the public contracting agency has also established a web page on the public procurement tender and contract implementation. This sends a strong message about its commitment to the transparency and integrity of the project.
Communication must be tailored to the main target audiences (bidders/potential bidders and citizens) and how they consume information. Platforms to consider include local media, trade magazines and social media. Information should be clear, simple and accessible, and available in the language(s) used by the stakeholders.
Some tenders in sensitive industries such as defence might require higher levels of confidentiality. Clear processes for what, how, when and with whom to communicate are even more essential in these cases.