HSE University Anti-Corruption Portal
Costa Rica Adopts a National Anti-Corruption Strategy to Counter Corruption

Costa Rica has released a National Integrity and Corruption Prevention Strategy 2021 to 2030 (Estrategia Nacional de Integridad y Prevención de la Corrupción 2021–2030). 

The Strategy was developed by a dedicated Working Group and is the first document of this kind in the national history.

The document divides the main anti-corruption objectives into five key areas that can be also adapted to the changing external circumstances, if needed. 

1.  State regulation 

The goal of the first line of action consists in the creation of a system of State anti-corruption regulations, including the establishment of anti-corruption standards, oversight mechanisms for their implementation and liability measures for their infringement.

To this end, the Strategy sets the following objectives: 

  1. Examine the best practices in the fight against corruption at the international level; the findings of this exercise will underpin the proposals to amend the legislation that will be formulated and submitted by the Working Group to the competent authorities;
  2. Reform the legal framework that establishes the system of anti-corruption prohibitions, restrictions and obligations and build relevant institutional architecture also by defining the authorities empowered to supervise compliance with anti-corruption standards, their functions and control tools, mechanisms for monitoring and assessment of compliance with legal requirements; clarify the means of interaction among public bodies at all levels; and engage other stakeholders (business community, civil society); 
  3. Develop national anti-corruption policy that would set the guiding principles and mechanisms for the prevention of and the fight against corruption in the country.

2.  Human resources management

The second line of action of the Strategy provides for compliance with the standards of conduct and job requirements upon recruitment into the civil service and throughout the subsequent career.

To this end, the document proposes to: 

  1. Establish a National Ethics and Values System (Sistema Nacional de Ética y Valores) and implement a Model of Ethical Management (Modelo de Gestión Ética) in all public bodies that would provide for the creation of mechanisms for detecting unethical conduct, development of codes of conduct and relevant guidance materials, provision of training for personnel, periodic monitoring and assessment of whether these instruments are used effectively also through the National Ethics and Values Commission (Comisión Nacional de Ética y Valores);
  2. Introduce uniform standards and improve the mechanisms for recruitment into the civil service to detect dishonest and unsuitable candidates;
  3. Ensure the provision of anti-corruption education to personnel after appointment and in the future on a regular basis, in particular, by informing them about the established anti-corruption standards and sanctions for their infringement, and conduct awareness-raising activities targeted at other persons (citizens, entities) about these standards;
  4. Create a unified system of administrative and disciplinary liability measures applicable in the public bodies and other public entities, and appoint divisions (employees) responsible for the enforcement of sanctions. 

3. Participation of society and public control

Another goal of the Strategy is to enhance the role of civil society, in particular, by exercising public control over the activities of public bodies.

This line of action has the following objectives:

  1. Assess the existing mechanisms of interaction between authorities and civil society, identify opportunities for their improvement also through education and awareness-raising: in particular, the Strategy envisages the development of a course for citizens on the mechanisms of interaction with the State and the exercise of public control, implementation of other measures to raise their awareness about the possibilities to contribute to the fight against corruption, the launch of a training programme for mentors that will provide citizens with advice on the implementation of the Strategy, the existing reporting and public control mechanisms, and the development of a course for civil servants explaining the role of civil society in ensuring transparency and countering corruption;
  2. Develop curricula, provide training, conduct information campaigns aimed at fostering a culture of non-tolerance of corruption among the youth in the framework for the domestic educational system at all levels, as well as among the employees of organisations in the most corruption-prone sectors of the economy;
  3. Improve the mechanisms for the protection of persons reporting corruption offences, in particular, by adopting legal acts establishing relevant protection measures, creating necessary conditions for filing reports, improving mechanisms for confidential reporting to competent authorities; define measures to encourage investigative journalism; and duly raise awareness of citizens about the existing reporting channels and measures for the protection of whistleblowers.

4.  Interaction between the public and private sectors

This line of action of the Strategy provides for the measures for mitigating corruption risks associated with the interaction between the public and private sectors, primarily by means of detecting the areas of increased risks and preventing conflicts of interest.

To this end, the document provides for the achievement of the following objectives:

  1. Define the most probable risks of corruption offences in public procurement, draft a General Guidance for the Detection of Risks of Potential Acts of Corruption (Marco General de Identificación de Riesgos de Posibles Actos de Corrupción) and develop mechanisms for public control over public contracting;
  2. Ensure the enforcement of provisions on conflict-of-interest management in all public bodies, taking into account specific corruption risks;
  3. Improve legal instruments for the prevention of money laundering, bribery, trading in influence, other corruption crimes, and the control over lobbying activities and the “revolving door”;
  4. Introduce the obligation to adopt measures to prevent corruption in public bodies and private sector entities, provide support to the implementation of such measures through training and awareness-raising activities, and establish a specialised authority responsible for the monitoring and assessment of compliance programmes and provision of advice to bodies and entities. 

5. Transparency and accountability 

The goal of the last line of action of the Strategy is to ensure access to public databases, enhance transparency and improve accountability of public bodies, as well as to facilitate the procedure for providing information and public services to the citizens.

At present, Costa Rica does not have a legal act regulating the matters of how to ensure transparency and access to information; therefore, the main objective of this line of action is to adopt the relevant bill (Ley sobre Transparencia y Acceso a la Información Pública), and subsequently provide civil servants with training on how to prepare and provide information to interested persons, inform citizens about the possibilities to search for and use this information also with the aim to exercise public control, and publish priority sets of open data that can be used to prevent and combat corruption.

In parallel, it is planned to adopt measures to facilitate the procedure for getting public services, primarily by creating a digital “single window”, standardising data and ensuring interoperability of the databases of different bodies and entities, which will also allow analysing and consolidating data in the future to make decisions and manage corruption risks. 

Conflict of interest
Corruption whistleblowers
Education and enlightenment
Corruption in public procurement
Civil society
Standards of conduct

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