• Service: Advisory
  • Type: KPMG information
  • Date: 12/19/2013

Citizens Fighting Corruption: Results and Lessons of an Innovative Pilot Program in India 

This paper synthesises the results in the first 18 months (2009-10) of the pilot Citizens Against Corruption (CAC) programme that is helping reduce corruption in India’s social safety net schemes using innovative approaches. The programme is sponsored by the Public Affairs Centre (PAC, and the Partnership for Transparency Fund (PTF, with funding support by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) under its Governance and Transparency Fund. The context for the pilot is that efforts by government ministries and domestic accountability institutions (e.g. Ombudsmen, Central Vigilance Commission, Comptroller and Accountant General of India) have shown limited success in controlling corruption in these schemes. Everyone seems to agree that the status quo is unacceptable. New and innovative approaches are needed. We believe, and the premise of the pilot CAC programme is, that governance and control of corruption in public service delivery schemes can be improved when the state-led oversight mechanisms are combined with citizen-led social accountability initiatives and civil society constructively engages the state.
The CAC pilot programme provided grants to grassroots civil society organisations (CSOs) for projects that are addressing corruption in three major Government of India social safety net programmes: the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), the Public Distribution System (PDS), and the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). These schemes touch the daily lives of more than 300 million mostly poor households in India with an annual budget outlay of more than 1.5 lakh crores Indian Rupees (more than $30 billion). The CAC pilot programme covered a tiny fraction of these schemes. It currently covers over 1000 villages and is benefitting over 88,000 households with incomes below the poverty line. Most of the CAC project areas (see map) are much below the national average in terms of human, social and economic development indicators, being in tribal and hilly areas and urban slums that have greater socio-economic disparities and less effective local institutions. As a result, the task of promoting public action and strengthening citizen influence on local public institutions for better governance are more challenging compared to many other parts of India.