Mariela Goett Samamé*
Master’s Candidate in Public Policy at the University of Maryland
A comparison of the public affidavit forms in the Peruvian context and the United States context reveals that both countries’ forms emphasize different aspects of anti-corruption measures. Whereas the Peruvian financial disclosure forms require detailed lists of public functionaries’ assets, the United States attempts to discern possible “conflicts of interest” that may affect a civil servant’s impartiality.
The Comptroller General of the Republic in Peru and the Office of Government Ethics in the U.S. are the agencies responsible for ensuring that public functionaries comply with anti-corruption laws. Both agencies provide detailed instructions on how to fill out the financial disclosure forms, and provide assistance via internet and phone to public functionaries if they are unclear on the rules and regulations regarding the forms.
Peruvian law provides a strong legal framework against corruption. Indeed, the public affidavit forms examine public functionaries’ assets in more depth than its American counterpart. Peruvian law requires public functionaries to report assets for a larger range of people, including domestic partners. In addition, there is an extensive list of assets that should be included in the financial disclosure report, such as jewelry, antiques, and art. The asset value must be reported. In requiring such a detailed description of public functionaries’ assets, the Peruvian government seeks to unmask corruption as it occurs. In contrast, the U.S. form requires public functionaries to report only those assets that exceed $1,000 in value. The form is restricted to the public functionary, his or her spouse, and their dependents, and warns against providing too much information. In fact, the instructions for filling out U.S. financial disclosure forms predict that completing the form will only take one hour.
However, the U.S. financial disclosure forms demonstrate a concern for “conflict of interest” in public functionaries. They seek to reveal potential factors that may affect public functionaries’ impartiality, and thus to prevent future corruption from occurring. Such factors may include gifts and reimbursements, debts, and agreements or arrangements. Peruvian financial disclosure forms, in contrast, request only that the public functionary provide information about any outstanding debts.
The most notable difference between the Peruvian and American financial disclosure forms is the kind of information available to the public. While the private version of Peruvian financial disclosure forms is quite extensive, the public form only reveals the public functionary’s monthly income and the value of total assets. In practice, getting public affidavits yields a variety of results. In the experience of the Peruvian NGO Suma Ciudadana asking information to central and local government, there are certain entities that provide public affidavit forms in its entirety, while others only give the information provided in the official newspaper, and yet others refuse to share information. In the U.S. financial disclosure forms, there are minor differences between the public and private forms. Moreover, it is extremely easy to access forms for U.S. public functionaries—one needs only to request it online. In spite of the ease of access, Global Integrity reports that the public disclosure forms make it difficult to see if public functionaries face any conflict of interest.
*Mariela does an internship at Suma Ciudadana