E-governance, Accountability, and Leakage in Public Programs: Experimental Evidence from a Financial Management Reform in India
- American Economic Journal: Applied Economics (Forthcoming)
Can e-governance reforms improve government policy? By making information available on a real-time basis, information technologies may reduce the theft of public funds. We analyze a large
field experiment and the nationwide scale-up of a reform to India's workfare program. Advance payments were replaced by "just-
in-time" payments, triggered by e-invoicing, making it easier to
detect misreporting. Leakages went down: program expenditures
dropped by 24%, while employment slightly increased; there were
fewer fake households in the official database; program officials'
personal wealth fell by 10%. However, payment delays increased.
The nationwide scale-up resulted in a persistent 19% reduction in
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