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Distortion by Audit: Evidence from Public Procurement

Author

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  • Maria Paula Gerardino
  • Stephan Litschig
  • Dina Pomeranz

Abstract

Public sector audits are a key element of state capacity. However, we find that they can create unintended distortions. Regression discontinuity analysis from Chile shows that audits lowered the use of competitive auctions for public procurement, reduced supplier competition, and increased the likelihood of incumbent, small, and local firms winning contracts. We also find suggestive evidence of a price increase. Looking inside the black box of the audit process reveals that relative to comparable direct contracts, auctions underwent more than twice as many checks and led to twice as many detected infractions. These findings show that standard audit protocols can mechanically discourage the use of more regulated, complex and transparent procedures that involve more auditable steps.

Suggested Citation

  • Maria Paula Gerardino & Stephan Litschig & Dina Pomeranz, 2017. "Distortion by Audit: Evidence from Public Procurement," NBER Working Papers 23978, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23978
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Stephan Litschig & Yves Zamboni, 2011. "Audit risk and rent extraction: Evidence from a randomized evaluation in Brazil," Economics Working Papers 1270, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jun 2013.
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    3. Katja Maria Kaufmann & Matthias Messner & Alex Solis, 2013. "Returns to Elite Higher Education in the Marriage Market: Evidence from Chile," Working Papers 489, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
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    11. Esther Duflo & Michael Greenstone & Rohini Pande & Nicholas Ryan, 2018. "The Value of Regulatory Discretion: Estimates From Environmental Inspections in India," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 86(6), pages 2123-2160, November.
    12. Henrik Jacobsen Kleven & Martin B. Knudsen & Claus Thustrup Kreiner & Søren Pedersen & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "Unwilling or Unable to Cheat? Evidence From a Tax Audit Experiment in Denmark," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(3), pages 651-692, May.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Pomeranz, Dina D. & Vila-Belda, José, 2019. "Taking State-Capacity Research to the Field: Insights from Collaborations with Tax Authorities," CEPR Discussion Papers 13688, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Jian Chu & Raymond Fisman & Songtao Tan & Yongxiang Wang, 2020. "Hometown favoritism and the quality of government monitoring: Evidence from rotation of Chinese auditor," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-343, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    3. Oriana Bandiera & Michael Carlos Best & Adnan Qadir Khan & Andrea Prat, 2020. "The Allocation of Authority in Organizations: A Field Experiment with Bureaucrats," NBER Working Papers 26733, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Jian Chu & Raymond Fisman & Songtao Tan & Yongxiang Wang, 2020. "Hometown Ties and the Quality of Government Monitoring: Evidence from Rotation of Chinese Auditors," NBER Working Papers 27032, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Martina Kirchberger, 2018. "The role of the construction sector," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2018-146, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • H57 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Procurement
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy

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