Our Mission

 The Centre for Effective Governance of Indian States (CEGIS) aims to improve lives by helping state governments deliver better development outcomes.

What is effective governance? And why does it matter?

From poor learning outcomes to malnutrition, many of India’s biggest development challenges stem from weak state capacity. Whether it is ineffective government schools and clinics, people not receiving their welfare entitlements, understaffed and overworked police forces, or our backlog of over 30 million court cases, weak state capacity hinders the quality of public expenditure, constrains growth and hurts the poor. 


CEGIS believes that building the effectiveness of the state and improving the quality of public expenditure is the most cost-effective way of improving development outcomes at scale. Governments are responsible for designing and implementing policies, delivering services and regulating markets. And research has shown that even small improvements in state capacity can generate outsized effects on development. 


We believe that well-functioning governments share at least three features: (i) outcome measurement to monitor progress against specific goals; (ii) policies and practices that effectively hire, train and manage personnel to meet goals; and (iii) resource allocation based on evidence and cost-effectiveness. At CEGIS, we support Indian state governments to build these foundations so that they can deliver development outcomes more effectively.  

Why Indian states?

Across health, education, agriculture, nutrition and other sectors, Indian state governments have the mandate, resources and personnel to deliver public services and create the conditions for economic growth. Given this scope and scale (the average Indian state has a population of nearly 50 million), improving Indian state government functioning has the potential to help millions, making it one of the most powerful ways to increase Indian and global prosperity.  Finally, state governments are ideally placed to lead India on policy reforms: a tried and tested reform in one state is more likely to be replicated by other states. Supporting state-led governance and policy reforms can be transformative for the country. 

 

At CEGIS, we believe that three fundamental principles should underpin effective governance. And we work with state governments to put these principles into practice across sectors


Outcome measurement
Across sectors, state governments largely focus on input-based programme implementation instead of improving outcomes. This is partly because there simply is a lack of accurate, regular and representative data on outcomes or beneficiary experience of government-provided benefits and services. CEGIS helps state governments in not just collecting this type of data, but also improving the quality of their administrative data, and incorporating insights from this data into government goal-setting, performance monitoring and general functioning. 


Personnel management
High-performing organisations give autonomy to frontline staff and managers on how to do their job—but hold them accountable to outcomes. Yet most governments in India do the opposite: micro-managing officials on process, with no accountability for outcomes. CEGIS aims to transform the organisational culture of state governments by using data from high-quality outcome measurement for goal setting and accountability of managers and staff based on improving outcomes. 


Public finance

Across India, the traditional solution to ailing public services and programmes has been greater spending. Yet research has shown that simply spending more on sectors like education and health does not necessarily improve learning or health outcomes. CEGIS works with state governments to both improve their quality of public expenditure and mobilise revenues. We help governments raise revenues without hurting economic activity, while allocating funds in a way that rewards departments for performance, efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Sectors
These principles can and should be applied across a broad range of government departments and sectors—but we believe they will be especially powerful when applied to these sectors: 


Education 
Better education is the foundation of development. Yet, across India, despite significant expenditure, states have struggled to improve learning outcomes of children. At CEGIS, we work with state governments to improve learning outcomes through outcome measurement, personnel management and strategic budgeting. In practice, this could mean helping a state education department invest in a measurement tool that tracks children’s learning outcomes across the state and then use this data to guide personnel management and public expenditure. 


Nutrition 

Like education, nutrition is foundational for development. And like with education, Indian states fare poorly in delivering basic nutrition to its children. CEGIS hopes to address this by working with state governments to orient systems, processes, personnel and budgets towards improving nutrition outcomes. For example, this could mean introducing a  robust data collection system to track nutrition outcomes, incentivise frontline workers (Anganwadi workers) to report accurate data, and establish processes to ensure that nutrition outcomes are the focus of all department activities.


Local governance 

The quality of local governance is an important determinant for service delivery. While Constitutional Amendments and Finance Commissions have formalised and expanded the role of local governments in service delivery, evaluating the quality of local service delivery is a challenge across states. CEGIS supports states in improving the performance and accountability of local governments by helping establish cost-effective and robust systems to define, evaluate and incentivize performance. For instance, in an ongoing project in Telangana, we are designing and implementing holistic performance assessment systems for Junior Panchayat Secretaries to help deliver better outcomes in villages across the state.

 

Our Approach

 
 

At CEGIS, all our work is guided by a core set of values: 
 

Outcomes-based excellence 
We are outcomes-driven and the outcomes that matter the most are the ones that improve lives. If we’re working with an education department, we want to improve learning levels; if we’re working with an agriculture department, we want to improve farmers’ livelihoods. Consequently, for us excellence is neither a nebulous concept nor is it defined as simply publishing a report; instead, excellence is measured by our contributions to improving outcomes. We believe high-performing organisations measure outcomes and use these outcomes to set goals, manage teams and allocate resources efficiently. This is our advice to governments, and this is what we practise. Our credibility hinges on our ability to operate as a high-performing organisation consistently. 


Trust and collaboration
Everyone at CEGIS is accountable for outcomes, but we are all entrusted with the autonomy to achieve these outcomes. We hope this trust manifests itself through an open, collaborative and respectful working environment. CEGIS staff can share diverse views and candid feedback because we trust each other’s intentions. This trust and collaboration extend to other organisations working in the sector—and especially our main partners: state governments. While we believe the CEGIS approach is unique, our ultimate goals are not. We do not compete with others' work but instead seek to collaborate and amplify high-quality ideas to further India’s development. 


Humility and self-awareness
We are working on the biggest, most intractable problems in India. And in tackling these problems, there is no task that is beneath us or too big for us. For many of these problems, we will have ideas for potential solutions; for others, we simply may not know enough. We know what we can do but, more importantly, we know what we cannot do. In all our work, we strive to be humble, and learn from and work with those who do know. 


Action over analysis

Many of the problems we face have serious consequences. And at CEGIS, we tackle them with the seriousness and urgency they deserve. When faced with a problem, we debate and deliberate, but we are not paralysed by pontification, nor do we settle for simply defining an issue or identifying a solution. We work with governments to help implement solutions that work for them. At the same time, we do not act for the sake of acting. Everything we do must be underpinned by data and rigorous reasoning — and always with the intention to improve people's lives. 
 

Our Values