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E-governance, Accountability, and Leakage in Public Programs: Experimental Evidence from a Financial Management Reform in India

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  • Abhijit Banerjee
  • Esther Duflo
  • Clement Imbert
  • Santhosh Mathew
  • Rohini Pande

Abstract

In collaboration with the Government of Bihar, India, we conducted a large-scale experiment to evaluate whether transparency in fiscal transfer systems can increase accountability and reduce corruption in the implementation of a workfare program. The reforms introduced electronic fund-flow, cut out administrative tiers, and switched the basis of transfer amounts from forecasts to documented expenditures. Treatment reduced leakages along three measures: expenditures and hours claimed dropped while an independent household survey found no impact on actual employment and wages received; a matching exercise reveals a reduction in fake households on payrolls; and local program officials’ self-reported median personal assets fell.

Suggested Citation

  • Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo & Clement Imbert & Santhosh Mathew & Rohini Pande, 2016. "E-governance, Accountability, and Leakage in Public Programs: Experimental Evidence from a Financial Management Reform in India," NBER Working Papers 22803, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22803
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    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • O2 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy

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