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Open Government Data for Tackling
Corruption – A Perspective
Nidhi Rajashree, Biplav Srivastava
IBM Research – India
Semantic Cities Workshop @ AAAI, Toronto, Canada
July 2012
• Corruption
– Good or Bad
– Factors
– Case Study
• Open Data for Corruption
– Difference from economic growth focus
– Call for Action
“the misuse of public office for personal gains”
“as an act of bribery involving a public servant
and a transfer of tangible resources”
“Corruption = Monopoly + Discretion –
“An act x performed by an agent A is an act of institutional corruption if and only if:
1. x has an effect, E1, of undermining, or contributing to the undermining of, some institutional process and/or purpose of
some institution, I, and/or an effect, Ec, of contributing to the despoiling of the moral character of some role occupant
ofI, agent B, qua role occupant of I;
2. At least one of (a) or (b) is true:
a) A is a role occupant of I, and in performing x, A intended or foresaw E1 and/or Ec, or A should have
foreseen E1and/or Ec;
b) There is a role occupant of I, agent B, and B could have avoided Ec, if B had chosen to do so.[19]
Note that (2)(a) tells us that A is a corruptor and is, therefore, either (straightforwardly) morally responsible for the corrupt
action, or A is not morally responsible for A's corrupt character and the corrupt action is an expression of A's corrupt
Source: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/corruption/
Corruption Perception Index (2011)
Source: http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2011/results/
Shades of Corruption
• Bribery
– payment made in money or kind and can be initiated either by
the public servant or the beneficiary. It can be extortionary,
collusive or anticipatory
• Favoritism & Nepotism
– a mechanism of power abuse implying privatization and highly
biased distribution of state resources, no matter how these
resources have been accumulated in the first place.
• Embezzlement
– theft of government property and resources by people who are
entrusted upon to take care of it.
Factor conducive for Corruption
Lack of awareness
Lack of proper Service-Level Agreements
Lax supervision and monitoring of staff performance
Absence of appropriate grievance redressal
• Obsolete policies
Tackling Corruption
• Lack of awareness
• can be removed by clearly specifying the guidelines and information about the
• Lack of proper SLAs
• can be taken care by a time bound service can be easily tracked by the citizens
if the information is freely available hence empowering them to seek penalty
when the SLA is missed.
• Lack of accountability, supervision
• can be improved through institutional diagnostics such as periodic or social
auditing which can be facilitated by well documented information at disposal.
• Discretion
• can also be kept under check if these subjective decisions are well
documented and hence available for review.
• Grievance mechanisms and obsolete policies need to be directly
India: (Mahatma Gandhi) National Rural
Employment Guarantee Program
• Indian job guarantee scheme, enacted by legislation on August 25,
• NREGA is an Indian job guarantee scheme, enacted as law in 2005.
• Designed as a safety net to reduce migration by rural poor households
in the lean period.
– A hundred days of guaranteed unskilled manual labour provided when
demanded at minimum wage
– works focused on water conservation, land development & drought
• Finances
– Statutory minimum wage of Rs 120 (US$2.39) per day at2009 prices.
– The Central government outlay for scheme is 40,000 crore (US$7.98 billion) in FY
• Mired in complaints of corruption
• http://nrega.nic.in
NREGA Key Processes
Application for job card
Prone to
Selection of works
Approval of shelf of
Issue of job card
Informing village PRI
Demand for employment
Prone to
Work allocation
Acknowledgement of
Preparation of estimates
And approvals
ICT based
ICT based
Maintenance of muster roll
Payment of wages
Prone to
Adapted from deck: [PPT]
NREGA Implementation [Presentation to NAC]
Open Government Data
Open Gov. Data for Economic Growth is Well Known
(Initiatives Across the World)
From Google Maps
 Local or regional governmental
Local or regional private
Nationwide governmental
Nationwide private initiatives
Multilateral / Transnational
 Open Government Data policies would increase direct business activity by up to €40 billion per year
(0.3% of EU's GDP) and overall benefit could be up to €200 billion per year (1.7% of GDP)
 Open data could generate £6 billion of added value to the UK economy
Source: World Map of Open Government Data Initiatives, Google Maps, the underlying world map is released under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY 3.0 Austria) by Semantic Web
Company (www.semantic-web.at) (accessed October 3, 2011)
Open Government Data
Helps Sustain Economic
By Reducing Corruption and Increasing
 Open govt data leads to transparency
 With transparency, it is easy to establish
 Both together help tackle corruption
• Corruption : “Monopoly + Discretion –
Accountability” (Klitgaard, Robert E. Controlling
corruption. Berkeley: U. of California Press, 1988)
Call for Action
• Governments should
– come out with data sharing/ disclosure policies, and
• Example: USA - US Executive Order 13556, Controlled Unclassified Information, At
• Example: India - National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP) at
– implement them!
• Industry and standardization bodies can help
by documenting best practices,
building necessary tools
using open standards, and
reporting case studies.