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Practice Advice on Democratic Institutions and the Policy Process

Lobbying (OECD)

Summary Advice: The OECD advises that, while lobbying can improve policymaking by providing valuable data and insights, a sound framework for transparency in lobbying is necessary to safeguard the public interest. Governments need to introduce regulations designed to increase scrutiny for lobbying and lobbyists.

Main Points: Governments need to utilize modern approaches, models, trends and state-of-the-art solutions to develop a framework for lobbying that meets public expectations for transparency, accountability and integrity. In the absence of such a framework, there exist risks of capture by vocal interest groups and excessive influence of businesses and private interests on public policy.

OECD (2010) promulgated ten principles to assist policy makers when designing regulations.

  • Countries should provide a level playing field by granting all stakeholders fair and equitable access to the development and implementation of public policies.
  • Rules and guidelines on lobbying should address the governance concerns related to lobbying practices, and respect the socio-political and administrative contexts.
  • Rules and guidelines on lobbying should be consistent with wider policy and regulatory frameworks.
  • Countries should clearly define the terms "lobbying" and "lobbyist" when they consider or develop rules and guidelines on lobbying.
  • Countries should provide an adequate degree of transparency to ensure that public officials, citizens and businesses can obtain sufficient information on lobbying activities.
  • Countries should enable stakeholders-including civil society organizations, businesses, the media and the general public - to scrutinize lobbying activities.
  • Countries should foster a culture of integrity in public organisations and decision making by providing clear rules and guidelines of conduct for public officials.
  • Lobbyists should comply with standards of professionalism and transparency; they share responsibility for fostering a culture of transparency and integrity in lobbying.
  • Countries should involve key actors in implementing a coherent spectrum of strategies and practices to achieve compliance.
  • Countries should review the functioning of their rules and guidelines related to lobbying on a periodic basis and make necessary adjustments in light of experience.

This 2010 advice was developed following an earlier OECD (2007) report on implementation of OECD Guidelines for Managing Conflict of Interest in the Public Service. That document reviewed the experience of OECD countries and noted that the following issues need to be considered:

  1. Aims: Why legislation and what is the purpose of rules?
  2. Subject: What is lobbying and what activities are excluded?
  3. Scope: Who is a lobbyist and who is the lobbied?
  4. Standards of behavior: What standards could reflect public expectations?
  5. Implementation: How to increase transparency and administer implementation?
  6. Compliance: How to combine incentives, sanctions and enforcement to increase compliance?
  7. Awareness: A proactive approach needs to be developed to raise awareness and understanding of the potential risks of lobbying practices to the integrity of public decision making.

Commentary: OECD advice on the topic of lobbying are an excellent illustration of how perspectives on a public management issue evolve over time. In the 1970s most countries believed that, given the fundamental democratic rights of citizens to make representations to their governments, special regulation of lobbying or lobbyists was not necessary and that existing laws, such as criminal code provisions covering influence peddling, were sufficient. But by the late 1980s, countries such as Canada introduced laws to register "third party" and "institutional" lobbyists while still not trying to regulate the activity of lobbying. Twenty years later, many countries, including Canada, had extended this regulatory regime by passing legislation to regulate lobbying behaviour.

Source: OECD (2012) “10 Principles for Transparency and Integrity in Lobbying" at: http://www.oecd.org/gov/ethics/Lobbying%20Brochure%202012.pdf (accessed 3 January, 2013). OECD (2007) “OECD Guidelines for Managing Conflict of Interest in the Public Service: Report on Implementation", at: http://www.oecd.org/corruption/fightingcorruptioninthepublicsector/39691164.pdf (accessed 3 January 2013).

Page Created By: Khilola B. Zakhidova on 3 January 2013. Updated by Ian Clark on 7 January 2013. The content presented on this page, except for the commentary by the project team, is drawn directly from the source(s) cited above, and consists of direct quotations or close paraphrases. This material does not necessarily reflect the official view of the publishing organization.

 

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