Corruption, Transparency, and Governance

Efficient, resilient, and accountable governance systems are essential to successfully manage natural resources, provide public services, foster trade, attract private investment, and manage aid relationships. Corruption and secrecy are often at odds with such goals. Illicit financial flows, for example, undermine development and governance while secrecy in extractive industries can squander a nation’s wealth and weaken the social contract.

CGD’s work in this area focuses on contact transparency, tax evasion and avoidance, efforts to combat money laundering and terrorism financing, and the negative effects they can have on remittance flows and international security.


Corruption Free Zone sign

Corruption in foreign aid takes many forms and is generally viewed as an obstacle to social and economic progress in developing countries. Less clear is how donor agencies and governments should address it. CGD’s experts examine the implications of existing anti-corruption efforts and highlight how development results can help increase transparency and strengthen accountability.

Publishing government contracts can bring many benefits. CGD’s Publish What You Buy work provides a practical outline for reaping those benefits while addressing legitimate concerns about costs, collusion, privacy, commercial secrecy, and national security.

Banks under pressure from anti–money laundering and counterterrorism efforts are exiting entire sectors and regions in a process known as “de-risking.” That has consequences for the world’s poor as they are left without banking services. CGD’s work provides recommendations for protecting against illicit activity without hindering the ability of people in poor countries to transfer money and conduct business.

Oil to Cash explores one option to help countries with new oil revenue avoid the so-called resource curse: just give the money directly to citizens. A universal, transparent, and regular cash transfer would provide a concrete benefit to regular people and create incentives for citizens to hold their government accountable.

man getting iris scan

A growing number of developing countries are using biometric technologies to create national identification programs or for more specific needs including cash transfers, voter registration, and disaster relief.  CGD’s work is helping shape best practices in applications such elections, financial inclusion, and discouraging child trafficking.

Digital Payments in India

Rapid advances in digital technology, particularly in digital payments and identification systems, can be harnessed to transform the way states implement poverty-reduction programs and to help achieve the SDGs. CGD’s work helps clarify linkages among digital payment systems, identification, and the achievement of the SDGs.