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Ethical Administrative Practice and Political Leadership of Integrity Take Root in Tainan

  In a move to honor mayor William Lai’s vision of “Ethical Governance and Leadership of Integrity,” the Tainan City Government began promoting a variety of anti-corruption campaigns since 2011. To ensure that these clean governance policies bear fruit, the Tainan City Government launched many highlight campaigns, including a first-in-Taiwan, animated 3-D clip to heighten “discretionary governance, jurisprudence, and public administration awareness; ”the establishment of a volunteer corps dedicated to clean public governance (“volunteer corps for accountable governmental conduct”), and a three-pronged grass-roots campaign for promoting morality in public policy stewardship (grass-roots clinics devoted to clean public governance campaigns; Project: Procurement Accountability Practice; specialized anti-corruption case reviews), and a case registry system for regulatory ethics. Also, to monitor the results of these clean politics practices, mayor Lai is insistent on chairing every public policy governance briefing. Furthermore, by having the input of independently retained pundits to consult the city government’s ethical practices, Tainan’s municipal governance services and capabilities are kept on the right track. These practices attest to mayor Lai’s resolve to keep Tainan’s municipal service revolutionarily-effective and accountable to the people.
        In 2011, the Tainan City Government partnered with Tainan District Prosecutors Office, Transparency International Taiwan, the city’s Civil Service Ethics Office, Bureau of Education, consulting group on human rights and legislative ethics, and Xanthus Animation studio to create a cartoon character, featured in a 3-D animation clip dedicated to open government practices and conscientious stewardship, and grass-roots awareness campaigns for government ethics education. This series of animated clips on accountable governance, teaching material and props is strongly characterized by its anti-corruption, anti-bribery, and anti-drug-abuse messages. The Tainan City Government has also developed an “immersion education for seeding clean governance practice awareness” and incorporated it into character development courses as part of the city’s elementary education. 2,832 grass-roots campus campaigns had been held by the end of November, 2016, and attended by 55,502 youngsters.
        The Tainan City Government was the first local administration to set up an independent “volunteer corps for accountable governmental conduct” following the establishment of the central-level, Agency Against Corruption. In addition to attesting to mayor Lai’s resolve to honor ethical administrative practices and political leadership of integrity, the establishment of the volunteer corps also serves to broaden the depths and breadths of the Executive Yuan’s ethical governmental practices and action-plans. Following the merger of Tainan County and Tainan City, the Tainan City Government became the first local administration in Taiwan to organize a volunteer corps of concerned citizens dedicated to governmental accountability; the city government has put the assistances of the volunteers to good use with promoting ethical governmental stewardship and other morality policymaking directions, so that mayor Lai’s vision of ethical governance can be seeded throughout Tainan.
     That being said, the Tainan City Government has kicked off a grass-roots campaign for seeding ethical governance by connecting with a government accountability policy campaign, launched by the Tainan District Prosecutors Office and supported by a trans-departmental cooperation mechanism. Lectures and seminars were held specifically for rank-and-file staff members at government agencies (in particular, civil servants tasked with reviews, inspections, crackdowns, and approval authority) and proprietors with vested interests in public works projects, to addresses issues such as bribery extraction, and their relationship with civil servants concerning the businesses in the industries they regulate. Prosecutors and businesses established an open communication channel to instill faith in the proprietors that their rights would be protected. 49 such seminars were attended by 3,981 to strengthen a neutral risk monitoring mechanism and improve rank-and-file staff members’ adherence to legality, fairness and justness in official conduct.
        To ensure a positive climate for transparent, accountable procurement procedures, the Tainan City Government again partnered with Tainan District Prosecutors Office for procurement accountability practices, and hosted an open discussion attended by qualified contractors and outsourcers of the city’s public works projects, so that they could have a face-to-face with the procurers, address issues of questionability during the procurement process. Other than helping contractors tackle the issues, the City Government was enabled by the input of the contractors to refine the procurement SOP and better-regulate contractual fulfillment terms, thus creating a constructive partnership between procurers and contractors. Mayor Lai made sure to attend the meeting, and stressed that the goal of “Project: Procurement Accountability Practice” was to ensure that the city’s public works projects are awarded to top-quality contractors; the quality of the projects would be enhanced, expenses saved, and incidents averted accordingly by virtue of a constructive bidding process. 10 workshops were held, attended by 344 contractors since project launch in 2014. 52 projects were discussed during the workshops to help contractors identify challenges encountered, allowing the city government to intervene and trouble-shoot to create a constructive climate for public procurement services.
    To prevent the abuse of authority that often tarnishes the reputation of the public sector, the Tainan City Government launched a “three-pronged grass-roots campaign for promoting morality in public policy stewardship - specialized anti-corruption case reviews,” with first-level agencies rotating to host themed seminars. The ethics office of every agency is tasked with formulating precautionary measures against possible wrongdoings as it considers the professional nature of the organization, studies cases of abuse that have occurred, or are likely to occur, and makes risk assessments accordingly. Chiefs of the agencies, supervisors of various business units, experts and pundits were invited to brainstorm in the seminars to identify doable preventative measures for every type of abuse, and searches for other constructive, specific steps to curb wrongdoing. 11 such workshops were held between 2016 and the end of March, 2017. 89 case studies of abuse were identified accordingly. Research efforts of these workshops were collated and compiled for the publication of “Morality in Public Policy Stewardship – A Compendium of Anti-Corruption Measures.” The types, nature of abuse and coping measures of every agency were made public online on the City Government’s “Citizen Watchdogs – Corruption-Free Governance” page as reference for every government unit committed to combating wrongdoing. On October 3, 2016, the Tainan City Government hosted a seminar on “Open Government and Ethical Governance,” graced by representatives and pundits from the Agency Against Corruption of the Ministry of Justice, the National Cheng Kung University, and Transparency International Taiwan. During the seminar, “Morality in Public Policy Stewardship – A Compendium of Anti-Corruption Measures” was presented to the Agency, NCKU, and TIT to help with the promotion and marketing of the book, and deepen corruption prevention effectiveness. 
        Additionally, in a move to offering a monitoring and direct supervisory mechanism for concerned citizens, enhancing governance transparency, and installing an appropriate channel of exposure for incidents or events related to governance moral values and ethics throughout agencies and schools of the Tainan City Government, a bulletin would be made public every month, that documents news-worthy stories from the previous month to ensure greater accountability and transparency through a case registry, so that illegal lobbying and influence-pedaling could be minimized. Since the launch of the bulletin in 2015, 1,201 cases have been documented in the registry (414 cases involved gifting; 282, illegal lobbying, and 504 social engagements of questionable nature). Other than faithfully keeping track of ethics-related practices, registry data is made available every month and categorically on the City Government’s official website, and the official website of Civil Service Ethics Office, encouraging public monitoring and supervision to stamp out questionable gifting, influence-peddling and dubious social engagement practices.
    The Tainan City Government has truly delivered in its ethical governance commitment since the merger: it has established many pioneering government stewardship programs that put it ahead of other local administrations, a feat that attested to mayor Lai’s dedication to political leadership of integrity. Many of the ethical governance programs can withstand the most rigorous public scrutiny, as suggested by the government’s high approval ratings. By virtue of setting the bar high, the Tainan City Government vows to continue with its “bottom-up innovation, top-down deep-rooting” as the foci of its ethical governance measures. It would hold fast to mayor Lai’s vision of “governance accountability, citizen-centeredness, the greatest public good, and open government” and promote a variety of ethical governance practices, giving citizens a consistently dependable, high-performance and ethical administration that they deserve.