The initiative is the establishment of an office for the entire public sector. The mission statement has four components: 1) knowledge sharing, 2) networking function, 3) instrument development and 4) reporting. The intention is for organizations to shape their own integrity policy; BIOS encourages and facilitates this (learning) process. The products and services are offered free of charge or at cost price. Knowledge sharing implies carrying out studies (or having them carried out by third parties) and making knowledge available. The networking function involves bringing organizations together so that they can learn from one another; BIOS plays a connecting role in this process. Instrument development focuses on new products, thus providing organizations with methods to formulate their policy. Finally, the reporting function makes it possible to combine reports which reach us in various different ways and to pass them on to the parties concerned (ministries, umbrella organizations) who can then follow them up.
The products offered by BIOS include various manuals (about conducting integrity studies), guidelines (HRM and integrity, conflicts of interest, incident communication etc.), risk analyses, overviews of relevant legislation and regulations, case law, an overview of scientific research, tools for encouraging the discussion of integrity, guidelines for directors and managers and a computer test for measuring the ethical climate within the organization. BIOS also organizes conferences, expert meetings and knowledge meetings. Finally, BIOS offers courses for new and advanced integrity officials and for integrity advisors. Once a year, BIOS also organizes an Integrity Day which focuses on the new developments within the sector.
The products are based on the Integrity Infrastructure developed by BIOS. This includes the various components which must be taken into account in order to develop a sustainable integrity policy: commitment on the part of the top management, mission and vision, structures and processes, personnel and organization, incidents and evaluation.
Many organizations have benefited from the BIOS activities and products, and BIOS is now being approached by increasing numbers of organizations. It is difficult to assess the true effect of BIOS’ work, as it mainly involves intangible subjects. BIOS also tries to focus on intangible problems, so that attention can be paid to prevention as well as repression. It is important to establish the cause of a problem before it can be resolved. Finding the correct balance between hard and soft measures, or between prevention and repression, is crucial. In addition, it is important for the integrity policy to be guaranteed, for the right people to be involved and for sufficient resources to be available.
Over the past years, BIOS has established that the most important aspect of the integrity policy is awareness. BIOS has observed that the topic requires constant attention, so that people don't ‘just sit back’ under the impression that ‘it's all sorted out now’. BIOS is always looking for new ways to achieve this.
As regards concrete figures, research by the Netherlands Court of Audit reveals that growing numbers of organizations are implementing an integrity policy and that organizations are increasingly raising their awareness of this aspect. However, it has also become clear that organizations can sometimes tend to lapse a little and that, on occasion, nothing has yet been organized in a number of crucial areas. This shows that there is still enough work for BIOS. The results of the research carried out by Transparency International (The Corruption Perceptions Index) show that the Netherlands is one of the least corrupt countries in the world.