Tackling Corruption from the Bottom Up: Decentralized Graft Prevention in Mauritius, 2009-2016

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Abstract 

Citizens of the Indian Ocean nation of Mauritius worried openly about corruption and petty bribery in government, just after the millennium. Surveys revealed that civil servants often took advantage of archaic and overly bureaucratic procedures, offering to reduce delay in return for cash. In 2009, Anil Kumar Ujoodha, director general of the national government’s Independent Commission Against Corruption, introduced a new prevention program. He proposed a bottom-up strategy to reduce opportunities for bribe taking, nepotism, and conflicts of interest in the public service. Rather than handing down orders, policies, and procedures for fighting corruption, Ujoodha and his top staff shifted responsibility for the revision of practices to government agencies and their employees. Commission staff guided each agency through the process of setting up an anticorruption committee, assessing institution-specific corruption risks, developing solutions, and monitoring implementation. After piloting the new approach with the police and the Civil Status Division, the commission scaled up the initiative; and by 2016, more than 70 of the island nation’s more than 200 agencies had agreed to implement more than 380 different measures to address corruption risks. Although the coordinated strategy purposely sidestepped certain major concerns such as the influence of money on elections, it succeeded in reducing the incidence of highly visible forms of graft that undermined government credibility at the grassroots level. The measures also helped the government meet its obligations under the United Nations Convention against Corruption and other international agreements.

Tristan Dreisbach drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Mauritius in December 2016. The British Academy-Department for International Development Anti-Corruption Evidence (ACE) Program funded the development of this case study. Case published February 2017. ​

Keywords 
Prevention
public sector
code of conduct
asset declarations
strategy
framework
Focus Area(s): 
Anti-Corruption
Civil Service
Strategy
Critical Tasks: 
Action plans
Assessing anti-corruption effectiveness
Building inter-agency cooperation
Compliance with international law
Corruption in the Civil Service
Goal setting
Monitoring
Organization and staffing
Prevention
Core Challenge: 
Coordination
Devolution
Institutional traps (spoilers)
Country of Reform: 
Mauritius
Type: 
Case Studies
Author: 
Tristan Dreisbach