20 Feb Whistle blower protection and open government data workshop by PROTAX and WOODIE projects
Disclosing illegal corporate practices is an important element in the fight against corruption, tax crime and other forms of malfeasance that go undetected despite efforts to secure compliance to standards of good business practice. Providing for transparency of financial flows, public procurement and expenditure can help to prevent the rise of illegal behaviour within an organization or a public authority.
At the same time, there are legitimate limits to such disclosures, protecting the privacy of individuals and corporations and securing the professional handling of internal processes and decisions.
PROTAX consortium has organised a joint workshop with WOODIE project on whistleblower protection and open government data in Vienna on the 6th of March 2020
The workshop offered the opportunity to discuss the complex problematic of whistle blowing on the basis of ongoing work in both projects and to exchange ideas about national and European solutions and legal frameworks. Members of both projects presented their findings and experts from different areas (financial services, policy makers, researchers) engaged in a lively discussion about the role of whistle blowers in the fight against tax crime and malfeasant practices in public procurement processes. The emerging consensus among participants put an emphasis on the role of human factors. While legal regulations and soft law may facilitate practices of whistle blowing, all participants agreed on the need to better protect those individuals who take the risk of blowing the whistle on presumably illegal practices. Providing for more transparency of administrative processes and low thresholds for access to open (government) data may help to reduce opportunities for corruption and mismanagement of public funds and the relevant European and national regulations point in the right direction. Nonetheless, as case studies presented in the workshop clearly demonstrated, these legal regulations have to be supported by adequate institutional and organizational measures to become effective. Effective whistle blowing requires a corporate culture that allows for such practices while at the same time balancing legitimate requirements for corporate secrecy.
The discussion clearly confirmed the conceptual approach taken in both projects and the evidence provided from the practical experience of stakeholders provided valuable input for future work in WOODIE and PROTAX.