In this paper, we examine those reforms and institutions that have, anecdotally and empirically, proven potent in combating corruption in Brazil. Specifically, there has been significant progress associated with the systems of oversight and investigation (Speck, 2011; Arantes, 2011) but very little progress associated with punishment (Avritzer, 2011; Filgueiras, 2011; Taylor, 2009). Highlighting the interrelationships among state accountability institutions in these arenas, we argue that the duplication of oversight and investigative functions among various governmental entities has strengthened their collective impact. After reviewing the literature condemning the inefficiencies conventionally associated with institutional multiplicity, we examine the theoretical and empirical advantages of functional overlaps in the context of corruption, in which public power is used to secure private benefits. We then explore the instances of institutional multiplicity in Brazil’s systems of corruption oversight (National Audit Court, Office of Comptroller General, media, civil society) and investigation (Public Ministry, Federal Police Department, Comptroller General). We contrast the successes achieved in oversight and investigation by these competing institutions with the obstacles encountered at the punishment stage of enforcement in which a single institution – the judiciary – has authority.
We conclude by arguing that our analysis of the Brazilian experience reveals the advantages in pursuing alternative institutional avenues through institutional multiplicity, in developing strategies to reduce corruption across contexts. We emphasize how functional institutional overlaps allow for compensation, collaboration and competition among various governmental entities and have bolstered anti-corruption efforts in Brazil. We argue that the country’s experience suggests that institutional multiplicity provides unique advantages in combatting a complex governance challenge like corruption.
Mota Prado, M.; Carson, L. IRIBA Working Paper 09: Brazilian Anti-Corruption Legislation and its Enforcement: Potential Lessons for Institutional Design. International Research Initiative on Brazil and Africa (IRIBA), University of Manchester, Manchester, UK (2014) 36 pp.