Can E-governance Reduce Capture of Public Programmes?

Experimental evidence from a financial reform of India's employment guarantee scheme

Speaker: Prof. Rohini Pande, Harvard Kennedy School 
Discussant: Amarjeet Sinha, additional secretary, Department of Rural Development, Government of India
Date: 3 July, 3.30-5 p.m.
Venue: Conference room 2, India International Centre, New Delhi

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Traditionally, fund flow to local bodies responsible for implementing social programmes is based on intended expenditure ratified by higher levels of administration. This 3ie-supported study by Abhijit Banerjee, Clement Imbert, Esther Duflo, Rohini Pande, Santosh Mathew, reports on a field experiment which evaluated an e-governance reform of the fund-flow system for the workfare programme in the Indian state of Bihar.

The reform changed the traditional fund flow practice by instead conditioning funds disbursement for wage payments on incurred expenditure as reflected in worker detail entry on a new electronic platform. This reform reduced the number of administrative tiers associated with wage disbursement and changed the informational requirements for requesting and disbursing programme funds.

The study finds that the programme expenditure and reported employment declined by 25 per cent, but with no discernible impact on actual employment as measured by independent surveys. The findings suggest that e-governance can reduce leakages of public funds but may not by itself improve public service delivery.

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