The federal government in light of certain recent events in Mexico is trying to reduce conflicts of interest and corruption in connection with government contracts, licenses, permits and concessions.
The Ministry of the Public Function (Secretaría de la Función Pública) (SFP) issued on Aug. 20, 2015, the General Guidelines for government officials that participate in government contracts and issuance of licenses, permits, authorizations and concessions and those who supervise public works (the Specific Government Officials).
Notwithstanding that the coordinated regulatory agencies on energy matters, such as the Energy Regulatory Commission (Comisión Reguladora de Energía) and the National Hydrocarbons Commission (Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos), already have strict codes of conduct, companies such as CFE and PEMEX that have codes of ethics and codes of conduct that are different from those in the new General Guidelines, will have to modify their procedures to comply with the new strict Guidelines.
The following are some of the relevant rules that will apply when Specific Government Officials interact with private parties:
- The federal agencies and dependent entities must inform private parties before the commencement of the relevant administrative process or prior to the first contact that telephone conversations will be recorded and that meetings, visits, and public events will be videotaped.
- Contacts between Specific Government Officials and private parties must be primarily in writing.
- Specific Government Officials must maintain a registry of telephone conversations and meetings indicating the date, time, purpose, place, telephone number, etc.
- For meetings to take place, there must be a previously scheduled appointment and the Specific Government Official must inform his or her immediate superior. At any such meeting, there must be at least two government officials of the same area in attendance.
- The Specific Government Official must provide notice to the Internal Affairs Office (Órgano Interno de Control) (OIC) of the corresponding agency at least two business days prior to any such meeting taking place.
- Minutes of each meeting must be prepared and signed by all participants indicating, at a minimum, the time, date, full names and titles, and matters discussed at the meeting. A copy of the minutes must be included in the file for such matter and a copy sent to the OIC within two business days.
- There are additional specific rules governing site visits by the Specific Government Officials to facilities operated by private parties and at public events.
- Specific Government Officials are prohibited from disclosing any information to private parties prior to the issuance of the corresponding resolution in the case of a process of evaluation or information analysis.
- To avoid possible conflicts of interest, private parties must disclose their relationships (whether business, personal or family) with federal government officials ranging from mid to high level, from Assistant Managers and General Directors of Ministries to the President of Mexico.
The new guidelines will become effective on Sept. 20, 2015.
As noted, direct contact with federal government officials will be more restricted and subject to additional requirements.
Additionally, it is important to consider the scope of these new guidelines with respect to foreign affiliates of PEMEX and CFE, potential conflicts between different regulations and the codes of ethics, and codes of conduct of the different agencies and entities of the energy sector in Mexico.